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'Fresh Air' welcomes new co-host Tonya Mosley


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. If you're a regular listener to FRESH AIR, you've heard me introduce interviews by guest interviewer Tonya Mosley. Well, Tonya has today's interview, but she's no longer a guest interviewer. I'm happy to say she is now FRESH AIR's co-host. You'll be getting to hear more of her interviews on our show. You may be wondering what does that mean for Dave Davies, who's been doing interviews on our show for nearly 20 years and has developed a big following? Well, here's the story.

For a long time, he's been wanting to do fewer interviews and make room for other things in his life, but we just kept roping him back in. Over the past year, he's been gracious enough to actually take on more than he expected instead of less. Fortunately for us and for you, we're not allowing him to completely leave. He's going to remain part of the FRESH AIR family and keep doing interviews but fewer of them. If you're wondering what this means for me, I'll still be the host and still do about the same number of interviews I've been doing.

We're thrilled that Tonya is now an official part of the FRESH AIR family. Let me tell you a little bit about her. Let's start with her resume. As you may already know, Tonya served as a correspondent and host of Here & Now, the midday radio show co-produced by NPR and WBUR in Boston. She served as a host and the Silicon Valley bureau chief at KQED in San Francisco. Before that, she was a TV correspondent for Al Jazeera America and a TV reporter in several cities. She was awarded a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University, where she co-created a workshop for journalists on the impact of implicit bias on reporting. She won a Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for her public radio series Black In Seattle and an Emmy in 2016 for her piece "Beyond Ferguson."

I highly recommend the current season of her podcast, "Truth Be Told." It's about the use of psychedelics to help deal with trauma, specifically racial trauma. She intertwines her reporting with her own experiences of racially related trauma and the retreat she went to to take mushrooms in a therapeutic setting. The fourth episode was just posted. I've heard the first three, and they've been fascinating and enlightening.

Tonya, it's so great to have you as co-host. You're in LA, where you live with your family. And you'll be working out of NPR West, NPR's studio in LA. I will, as always, be in Philadelphia. Working out of two different coasts is something new that our producers and I will have to get used to, but you've done that before with Here & Now, which is produced out of Boston. What was that like on your end, working with people on another coast?


Well, I will first say this is an absolute pleasure. And it's amazing to hear you read my bio. But, you know, when I started with Here & Now 3 1/2 years ago, it was just a few months before the pandemic. And we were in the same position - trying to figure out how to host on separate coasts would work together. And then we were forced to do it, with me doing the show in my closet and with all of the considerations that you have to think about in hosting a show in your closet. And we were able to do it and get the job done. And now I feel like I'm an old hat at doing it. It's going to be just fine. And technology has caught up with our needs, so that's a wonderful thing.

GROSS: How different is FRESH AIR from the work you've done before?

MOSLEY: Like you, I have interviewed thousands of people throughout my career. But the difference in my work versus the work of FRESH AIR is that my experiences with people were very short - five minutes, 10 minutes. I'd be lucky if I had 30 minutes to sit down with people. And this work allows me to get deep and narrow in a way that I've always dreamed about and in a way that the listeners expect from a show like FRESH AIR and from NPR more generally. And so when I say it's a dream come true, that really is the truth. I'll finally be able to dig in.

GROSS: Oh, good. That sounds so great. What kinds of interviews are you most looking forward to doing or subjects that you most want to cover?

MOSLEY: You know, that's a difficult question for someone like me because, you know, I used to shy away from the term generalist because it sounded like maybe I had no direction. But really, I am a generalist in that I love so many different topics. And I love talking with so many different types of people, with everyone, learning about new experiences. But I think if I were to be more specific, what FRESH AIR has offered for listeners is a chance to understand the moment that we're in and make sense of ourselves and each other. And when I listen back on your old shows, what I can hear is how the moment in time when you were interviewing those people gives us a sense of where we've been and where we're going.

And for instance, I listened to an old show that you did in 1981, a very long time ago, and it was about gender-affirming surgery. And today, we are talking about this on a regular basis. And it was interesting to listen to that because I could see where the seeds of that started and where we are today. And so I look forward to being that in this moment for listeners and also offering maybe a roadmap for people in the future when they're looking back on this time in history.

GROSS: Well, Tonya, I'm so glad you're part of the show. And I'm looking forward to doing a real interview with you in the near future so that we can all get to know you better. And in the meantime, I just want to say welcome. It is great to have you as co-host. You have today's interviews. So tell us what they're about.

MOSLEY: Well, we're looking into a series of investigative reports over the last few months which has revealed that migrant children, most of them from Central America, are working in some of the most dangerous jobs in our country. And this shadow workforce, according to The New York Times, extends across industries on construction sites and slaughterhouses and in factories with migrant children making products from some of America's most well-known brands. And just last month, the Iowa Senate passed a measure allowing minors as young as 14 years old to work night shifts. And states like Missouri and Minnesota and Ohio are considering bills that would allow teenagers to work longer hours in jobs that were previously thought to be too dangerous for children of that age.

And so behind that effort to roll back protections on the state level is this conservative think tank and lobbying group based in Florida. And Washington Post business reporter Jacob Bogage has been reporting on this and will join us later to talk about his findings. But first, we're going to hear from New York Times investigative reporter Hannah Dreier. She's been reporting on child labor exploitation across the country for the past year, and she spoke with more than a hundred migrant children across 20 states working in violation of child labor laws. And I recorded these interviews yesterday.

GROSS: Well, Tonya, I just want to say again, it is a pleasure to have you as co-host of the show. And now let's hear your interview. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Combine an intelligent interviewer with a roster of guests that, according to the Chicago Tribune, would be prized by any talk-show host, and you're bound to get an interesting conversation. Fresh Air interviews, though, are in a category by themselves, distinguished by the unique approach of host and executive producer Terry Gross. "A remarkable blend of empathy and warmth, genuine curiosity and sharp intelligence," says the San Francisco Chronicle.
Tonya Mosley
Tonya Mosley is the LA-based co-host of Here & Now, a midday radio show co-produced by NPR and WBUR. She's also the host of the podcast Truth Be Told.