Terry Gross to be awarded National Humanities Medal in White House ceremony

(Daniel Burke/Fresh Air)

(Daniel Burke/Fresh Air)

Next week, President Barack Obama will award the 2015 National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to distinguished recipients at the White House.

WHYY’s Terry Gross, longtime host of “Fresh Air,” will be among those honored with a National Humanities Medal.

Gross was selected “for her artful probing of the human experience.”

“Her patient, persistent questioning in thousands of interviews over four decades has pushed public figures to reveal personal motivations behind extraordinary lives-revealing simple truths that affirm our common humanity,” according to the citation that will be read at the Sept. 22 ceremony.

Gross has been host of “Fresh Air” since 1975, when it was broadcast only in greater Philadelphia.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be getting this medal, and to have an opportunity to meet President Obama,” she said. “And Mel Brooks is one of the recipients, so having Mel Brooks and President Obama in the same room, that’s going to be pretty great.”

Each year, nearly 5 million people listen to the intimate conversations on “Fresh Air,” broadcast on more than 624 NPR stations across the country, as well as in Europe on the World Radio Network.

In 2015, the show was the No. 1 most downloaded podcast on iTunes.

Those joining Brooks in receiving a National Medal of the Arts include Morgan Freeman, Audra McDonald, Moises Kaufman and Philip Glass.

Other recipients of a National Humanities Medal include Wynton Marsalis, Louis Gluck, Elaine Pagels, James McBride and José Andrés.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities were established by Congress in 1965 as independent agencies of the federal government.

To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.

The National Endowment for the Humanities brings the best in humanities research, public programs, education, and preservation projects to the American people. To date, NEH has awarded $5 billion in grants to build the nation’s cultural capital — at museums, libraries, colleges and universities, archives, and historical societies — and to advance our understanding and appreciation of history, literature, philosophy, and language.

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