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Lopate in 2008
|Born||September 23, 1940|
Brooklyn, New York
|Show||Leonard Lopate at Large|
|Show||The Leonard Lopate Show|
|Style||Talk show host|
Leonard Lopate (born September 23, 1940) is an American radio personality. He is the host of the radio talk show Leonard Lopate at Large, broadcast on WBAI, and the former host of the public radio talk show The Leonard Lopate Show, broadcast on WNYC. He first broadcast on WKCR, the college radio station of Columbia University, and then later on WBAI, before moving to WNYC.
Lopate came to radio relatively late in life. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Williamsburg, he attended Brooklyn College and later Hunter College, where he trained as a painter (he studied with Ad Reinhardt and Mark Rothko), and worked in advertising for fifteen years. He was given the chance to host his first talk show on WBAI in 1977 and what began as a whim has become his life's work.
Lopate's longest-running program on WBAI was Round Midnight, a weekly late-night show, which featured interviews and free-form discussion on a variety of topics with listeners who called in to the station. The show ran through the mid-1980s, ending when Lopate moved to WNYC-FM to host a midday talk show with radio veteran Pegeen Fitzgerald, which subsequently evolved into The Leonard Lopate Show.
Lopate also appears regularly at the 92nd Street Y, where he interviews celebrities and moderates his ongoing panel series "Comparing Notes". He has appeared in a similar capacity at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Queens College, Brooklyn College, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Alliance Française, and The New School. He has also created a series of discussions on literature for the writers' organization, PEN International.
The show's Peabody Award-winning format typically consisted of four interviews ranging from twenty to forty minutes in length and covered a broad range of topics including current events, history, literature, the arts, including jazz and gospel music, food and wine (he has won three James Beard Awards), and science. Guests were often interviewed to accompany a book release. Lopate has interviewed politicians, poets, painters, novelists, filmmakers, actors, dancers, and more than a few Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners. He frequently interviewed actors, playwrights and producers to talk about their current NYC theatre productions.
Lopate introduced two ongoing features to the program. One was called "Please Explain", in which he talked with experts on a wide variety of topics that were not tied to book or movie releases and could be described as general interest. In 2006, some of the "Please Explain" topics he delved into included sainthood, nanotechnology, insomnia, infertility, and meditation. The other feature was called "Underreported", in which Lopate delved deeply into political and social issues deemed not to have received sufficient media coverage.
The show was previously called New York & Company.
On December 21, 2017, WNYC fired both Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz, stating that investigations found that each individual had violated WNYC's standards "for providing an inclusive, appropriate, and respectful work environment"; they had been placed on leave 15 days earlier pending investigations. One producer complained that, as she was preparing for a segment about a cookbook, Lopate informed her that the name "avocado" comes from the Aztec word for "testicle." In fact, NPR had devoted a webpage to the origin of the word. Another producer said that in 2009, when she wore a new dress, Lopate said, "I didn't know you were so 'bosomy'." Some female producers defended him, saying that the firing was "unfair", while others said that the show was produced in a highly-charged atmosphere in which Lopate had abusive outbursts. In February 2017, a producer discussed with human resources at WNYC multiple comments Lopate had made to her that she considered sexually provocative. While she didn't consider any single comment to be "fireable", she said the comments made her feel uncomfortable. The February incident led to an investigation that "resulted in one-on-one anti-harassment training for him and a warning to Lopate that he was creating an uncomfortable work environment." In March 2017, "a second producer filed a complaint against Lopate... describing comments she felt were inappropriate."
Lopate's former show was replaced by Midday on WNYC, It had a rotating array of hosts and followed a format similar to that of The Leonard Lopate Show. WNYC abandoned that show for All of It with host Alison Stewart on September 17, 2018.
On May 24, 2018, Lopate came back to the radio waves as the host of the Leonard Lopate at Large show. The program is broadcast on WBAI 99.5 FM (New York), and on WBAI.org, from Mondays through Fridays from 1:00 to 2:00 PM. It is also broadcast on the Robin Hood Radio network (AM 1020 WHDD-FM 91.9, WBSL-FM 91.7, WLHV-FM 88.1, and soon on 97.5 FM) Saturday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:00 PM and Tuesday afternoons from 12:00 to 1:00 PM. Lopate typically interviews one guest per show, with only one brief break. Guests have included Clyde Haberman, Edmund White, Twyla Tharp, Ann Beattie and various current authors, filmmakers, and artists. Topics have included in-depth discussions of such varied issues as climate change, reporting from Afghanistan, Trump and the Russian mafia, songwriting, and various aspects of food and cooking. Podcasts of previous shows are available on the WBAI.org website. The show originally aired on Robin Hood Radio and podcasts of those shows and recent shows are available on iTunes.