As far as Ernest White is concerned, "This is the best job."

The moderator of WDCU's "Crosstalk" radio program for 3 1/2 years, White said he enjoys his work because, "You're not dealing with something abstract. People call in and talk about the most intimate feelings and thoughts of their lives. That's real."

The show, which can be heard from noon to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on 90.1 FM, features guests speaking on a variety of topics who field questions from listeners.

WDCU, owned and operated by the University of the District of Columbia, features jazz, gospel and community-oriented programming.

White, 39, said his show gives an outlet for many community issues that might not otherwise get on the air.

Two frequent guests are Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.) and Mayor Marion Barry, who appears monthly. According to John C. White, the mayor's press secretary, who has appeared on the show himself: "The mayor feels that Ernest's show is not only important because it provides a forum for the community, but it's also important as an outlet for the university."

John C. White said of his own experience on the show, " . . . unlike some talk show hosts, Ernest has done his homework, and his questions aren't there to skewer his guests, but to elicit information. He just seems to care about what he's doing."

Audrey B. Chapman, a family therapist in the counseling service at Howard University who has appeared on the show 10 times in the past four years, said she feels "Crosstalk" is important because "it touches a lot of important ground for the black community . . . accepting the fact we're an African culture. Talking about these things are important at a time when so many in the black community are dispirited."

And in White's opinion, it's the public that gives the show its spark, although it wasn't always that way.

For the first 2 1/2 years it was on the air, "Crosstalk" was strictly a guest-host show. Sometimes a guest would field questions from a caller during the commercial breaks, but that was all the public participation there was.

White took over in 1984, and after a few months decided to try a call-in format to liven things up, because even when a show dealt with a highly charged issue, the shows often were not as energetic as he felt they could be.

"Once we got the call-in, the heated issues were the best," White said. "The public is now a direct contributor to the {show's} subject matter."

White said callers keep him on his toes. "Whenever I'm not on it, they know it. Oftentimes they'll call me up after a show and say: 'Ernest, you didn't have all the information on that issue.' "

He added that the public can "inform and take leadership" on certain topics.

As an example, White recalled a show last fall on which two sportswriters discussed the Redskins' quarterback situation. Doug Williams had come in the Sunday before to replace Jay Schroeder, and both writers said at the top of the show that they felt that fans saw the quarterback situation as basically a question of which man had the better skills and not as a black-white issue.

"Soon as we opened the telephone lines, both of them were really surprised," White said. "Most of the callers felt it was more a question of race . . . that he {Schroeder} was given more than ample time to redeem himself because he was white."

When he started moderating "Crosstalk," White said, few men called. Things have changed.

"About 80 percent of my callers are men," White said. "The exception to that rule is when a show's topic is about romantic relationships; that's when the women call as much as the men."

White attributes the predominantly male callers to their perception that his show is "not a tea hour."

A native of Richmond and a 1970 graduate of Howard University, White began his radio career in 1981 with a 15-minute news and information show on WUST-AM called "The In Ernest Report." In May 1982, when WDCU debuted, he became part of the station's original staff.

He began by hosting a gospel music show, "Blessed Assurance." In the autumn of 1984 he took over as host of "Crosstalk," eventually adding the job of the station's community and public affairs director to his duties.

Along with the call-in format, another feature White added was broadcasting once a month before a live audience at the Shiloh Baptist Church's Family Life Center at 1500 Ninth St. NW.

White's work has not gone unnoticed. He received the 1986 Media Award from the D.C. Chamber of Commerce for highlighting community issues on his show. "My mother always told me, 'If you could just turn running your mouth into making some money . . . ' When I won that award, I told her: 'You see, now I run my mouth and they pay me.' "

White said he enjoys "the probing and sharing of information . . . With talk radio you have to be spontaneous . . . that's what makes talk radio exciting. I'm never bored."