OMG! It’s Terry Gross

I Spot a Local Celebrity

Roz Warren
Jan 8 · 3 min read
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Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

I became a “Fresh Air” addict many years ago, when I was living in Maine.

At that time, the Bangor NPR station aired the Philadelphia-based show just once a week. I was hooked the first time I tuned in. Every other woman radio host I’d ever heard was a warm, engaging, people-pleaser.

But Terry? She had this sharp, matter-of-fact “I’m the smartest person in the room and I don’t care who knows it” vibe that made me an instant fan.

Growing up, I worshipped Emma Peel on “The Avengers” for her kick-ass competence. Now I had a new media hero! As far as I was concerned, “Fresh Air” was an hour of perfect radio, and I dropped everything to tune in each week.

I even phoned in a pledge during the next fund drive — probably the only one they’d ever received from Bangor, Maine.

I didn’t move to Philly to get my “Fresh Air” fix daily rather than weekly. I moved here to live near my sister. But it was way cool to think that, living in Philly, I might one day catch a glimpse of Terry in person.

My new Philly friends told me about crossing paths with Terry on the street, in stores, and at cultural events. For such a huge cultural presence, they said, the radio star was surprisingly petite. “She seems so unassuming! So ordinary!” they said. “She could be your next-door neighbor.”

I even met several local writers who’d gone on “Fresh Air.” They said it was intense. “It felt like Terry was sucking my brain out through my eyeballs!” one said. “But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

My sister once found herself in line behind Terry at the airport. When Terry stepped up to the counter and said, to the ticket agent, “I’m Terry Gross,” my sister had to stop herself from exclaiming: “…and this is Fresh Air!”

I finally had my own “OMG it’s Terry Gross!” moment when I spotted her browsing at a local bookstore. I managed to refrain from shrieking “I love you, Terry Gross!” and rushing over to tell her all about what “Fresh Air” means to me.

I knew how unlikely it was she’d enjoy that.

But she’s a Philadelphia treasure! More precious (to me, anyway) than the Liberty Bell, the Phillies and a big gooey cheese steak combined. I had to do something! So I expressed my appreciation the way I knew she’d want me to — I silently vowed to double my pledge during the next fund drive. It’s the very least I can do.

Have you ever spotted a celebrity? Did you approach them? If not, what did you do to mark the occasion?

( Writing Coach and Medium Sherpa Roz Warren writes for everyone from the Funny Times to the New York Times, has been in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul collections, and is the author of Our Bodies, Our Shelves: Library Humor . Drop her a line at roSwarren@gmail.com.)

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