I admit it--I'm a hardcore "Fresh Air with Terry Gross" junkie. As someone who has interviewed people for a living, I say with all confidence that Terry is the best in the business. She really knows how to get people talking. I think it's because she's really well-prepared, and that includes being prepared to follow up on the surprising responses she elicits from her guests. Being a really good listener doesn't hurt her, either.
My favorite Fresh Air interviews are numerous--the one with Borat/Sasha Baron Cohen was especially naughty--but I have to say I enjoy the ones with John Waters, the director of "Hairspray" and "Pink Flamingos." He was on today's show http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127238420.
Full disclosure--I can't stand his movies. I walked out of "Pink Flamingos" when I saw it at the Nuart Theater in West L.A. shortly after it came out. So when I heard Terry interview him about five years ago or so, I experienced some serious cognitive dissonance. I expected Waters to be just like his movies--irreverent to the point of rudeness, creepy, bizarre. That he was articulate, polite and unabashedly exactly who he is was a pleasant surprise. I think Quentin Tarantino might very well be riffing off John Waters. Neither director is afraid to show their audiences the unedited content of their imaginations. As an aspiring writer, I could stand to riff off Waters and Tarantino.