Air Talk is consistently entertaining and informative, not only one of the best public radio talk programs, but one of the best interview programs, period. Host Larry Mantle is fair and knowledgeable. The program doesn't just feature famous guests and the usual suspects talking heads, but guests who are actually experts in their fields even if they are not household names.
Because Mantle can easily pull a range of guests from the leading universities, institutions and businesses in the area, from UCLA to JPL to Cal Tech, Air Talk can easily move from local California stories, such as features on the housing crisis, to cutting edge interviews with leading scientists and researchers.
Most of all, I appreciate that Air Talk's political coverage is free of any pre-digested political bias and consistently seeks out the best, most engaging guests and interview topics, not merely the most notorious or popular. Whether you agree or disagree with a speaker, you will rarely come away from an interview thinking that an interview subject did not get a fair hearing.
The Friday programs, featuring a film critic roundtable and interviews with film makers, is a delight, especially film critic Charles Solomon's informed and affectionate discussions of animated film.
Along side Terry Gross' "Fresh Air," Larry Mantle's "Air Talk" is essential listening, never heavy-handed and always engaging.