Best Local Answer to Terry Gross

Anyone who ever listens to NPR has heard Terry Gross' voice, if only to say the words “Fresh Air” — drawn out yet run together, like “freshaaaaiiiirrr” — as she hosts cultural figures on her daily program. But those who listen to a broadcast of our best local series of literary and intellectual interviews, “City Arts & Lectures,” may think that the woman whose smooth voice they hear introducing it is the one who runs the show. Not so: Our answer to Terry Gross isn't Linda Hunt, radio host of “City Arts,” but Sydney Goldstein, its founder and director. In the 23 years she's been running the series, Goldstein — like Gross, a diminutive, intense, profoundly smart woman — has hosted such smarties as Salman Rushdie, Louis Menand, Susan Sontag, and Alice Walker, among many others, on the Herbst Theatre's stage. Goldstein doesn't do the interviews herself, as Gross does, but the impetus for selecting the guests is hers. Attending a “City Arts” event is like getting reading recommendations straight from a trusted friend: You don't take suggestions like these lightly.

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