Fresh Air host Terry Gross appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night, and talked about meeting her future husband in Philly in the 1970s, burned Bill O’Reilly, and played a game of Password with Anthony Anderson and Kesha.
Gross’ husband, Francis Davis, is the resident jazz critic for the Village Voice and a contributing editor at Atlantic Monthly. But in the ’70s, he was working at a small chain record store, the Listening Booth on the University of Pennsylvania campus in West Philly. The store, Gross told Fallon, was near WHYY-FM’s offices at 46th and Market at the time.
A mutual friend worked at the same record shop, so Gross went in to buy records and learned about Davis’ huge record collection. Eventually, she decided to have him do a regular feature on WHYY revolving around rare jazz music.
“He wrote me this script and it was so beautifully written,” Gross told Fallon. “His use of language was so great. I started falling in love with him and his writing and his taste in music all at the same time.”
But Gross was a little apprehensive about the relationship, especially considering the professional element. As Fallon noted, at the time, she had three hours of content to fill five days a week, and Davis was now her boyfriend — there was no way she could fire him if he was bad.
“I didn’t want to tell anybody at the station, either, because I thought, ‘Bad idea to have a relationship with somebody you’re working with,’ ” Gross said. “What can you do? Eventually, people knew, and it was all OK.”
However, not everything has worked out OK in radio for Gross, who went on to tell Fallon some tales of walkouts and failed interviews. Though, from what she said, Bill O’Reilly might have been the worst.
O’Reilly walked out of a 2003 interview with Gross, who noted that he accused her of “throwing every defamation in the book” at him during the session. But Gross got a little revenge on Thursday night.
“[He] made a little speech about, ‘This is NPR, I know what this is. I know what you’re doing: 30 minutes of defamation. If you think that’s fair, Terry, you should get out of this business,” Gross said. “I’m thinking, ‘One of us still has a program.’ ”
It wasn’t all love stories and burns, though. Gross got goofy, too, playing a game of Password and bullying Fallon during his monologue.