Leonard's 23 Years at WNYC

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Leonard celebrates his 23rd anniversary here at WNYC! Two other longtime WNYC voices, Steve Post and John Schaefer, join Leonard to talk about life at the station over the years.

Weigh in: Tell us your favorite memories of the Leonard Lopate Show from over the years. Do you have a favorite interview, a memorable moment?


Leonard Lopate, Steve Post and John Schaefer

Comments [45]

Gregory Mortenson from Summmit, NJ


I've only been listening to your show since December of last year, but i have quickly become a fan. I appreciate your insights, quick wit, and enthusiasm for each subject you handle.

Congrats on 23, and may the future bring you all the best.


Mar. 05 2008 10:09 PM
gail satler from queens

Happy Anniversary Lenny! Almost every moment is memorable in its impact on me. I am always amazed at how interested I can be in things I didn't even know about. So much of what I think about, what I know is prefaced by ...I was listening to Leonard Lopate's show and...I am so happy when I can pass it on to friends and students. I have to say that your compassion and respect to guests getting up in years touches me. Studs Terkel, Nolan Lloyd. We have so much to learn, they are so happy to be asked and you make them feel special. We can all take a lesson in compassion and active listening from you! And any interview with Oliver Sacks and Sarah Jessica (what a duo)makes me smile. Please stay on for another fifty years at least and thank you. gail

Mar. 05 2008 07:06 PM
Joe Adams from Bergen County, New Jersey

Let me add my congrats to those above. I would say my most treasured memory is when the late, great John Hess told off that awful offal "John from Staten Island" who had questioned his loyalty to the U.S. John shut him up by telling him how he he stood in a long line to volunteer for the marines on December 8, 1941. Among the most enjoyable conversations were those with Christopher Hitchens, David Halberstam, Garrison Keillor and on the 50th anniversary of Crystalnacht, Fred Hoeft. Thank you for the show.

Mar. 05 2008 06:55 PM
Paula Beckenstein from Chappaqua NY

I wish you the happiest anniversary ever. You are a constant inspiration and educator for me. My daughter and son, both married, are now also devoted fans. While every show has unique qualities your interviews are always sensitive and stimulating. I love the way you focus on each author's work, especially with writers of fiction, and try to weave together the story and the life of the author; you are always perceptive in the direction you take in so doing.There have been so many books that I've read after being introduced to them on your show and reading the first chapter on line.
I loved your interview with Maggie Smith and Judy Dench, and Anderson Cooper. His book was one of the most moving non fiction books I've ever read.
I also enjoyed the things you said to me when I phoned the show and spoke about my work in a jail with inmates charged with murder.You said you were glad I stayed safe.I thank you for that.
I really hope you have at least 23 more happy and inspiring years on wnyc!

Mar. 05 2008 05:58 PM
Connie Smith from Waccabuc (Westchester County)

I so enjoy your program whenever I listen...which is most days. My favorite part of the show is always a segment with Patricia T. O'Connor. I try, also, to never miss the "Gurus".

You are truly a "Renaissance Man" endangered species, I fear. It is great to hear of your many interests and to listen to the interesting and provocative guests you bring on the show.

I really got nostalgic today when I heard the voice of Pegeen Fitzgerald! Loved the bit with Steve Post and John Schaefer, too!

Happy 23rd Anniversary and continued success. (I have become a Brooklyn fan by listeneng to you even though I was born and raised in Manhattan.)

Mar. 05 2008 02:54 PM
Bernardo from Bogotá

Congratulatiosn Leonard. It is great to me to listen almost every day via web. You have created a wonderful show and the thematicall spectrum is really amazing. Thank you and a very GOOD and long life both for your show and yourself.

Mar. 05 2008 02:30 PM
lincoln from brooklyn

congratulations. you do terrific work and we, as new york city residents, are lucky to have you. thank you so very much for raising the quality of dialogue and the level of knowledge in this city.

Mar. 05 2008 02:16 PM
charles from nyc

people are amazed at how well informed i am and that's because of you Leonard a million thanks last easter you played music for an hour i cried no talking for one hour! i really did cry the depth of my reaction surprised me i would have married you at that moment you and Brian could cut a day from your week and play music and have tighter more focused shows or even a few minutes at the end of a show instead of irrationally(thanks mr Ariely)thinking you have to chatter to fill every last minute. i miss Steve more than anything BEST charles

Mar. 05 2008 02:06 PM
Yvette from Westchester, NY

Oops, forgot to mention my favorite moments from your show Mr. Lopate. I learn so much from all your shows, but I think I really love the segments with Patricia T. O'Connor, Ruth Reichl and the Ubell brothers. My husband has an interst in the brain and conscienceness, and you have done so many shows on that topic. I always call him when you cover those areas. Thanks again.

Mar. 05 2008 01:47 PM
Yvette from Westchester, NY

I must say a quick thank you to all three of you, but especially Steve Post, who was responsible for my being a WNYC listener and member. He was so wacky in the morning and so irreverent with classical music, which can take itself too seriously, that it really made me laugh and wake up in the morning. (No easy task I assure you.) It's a shame that we lost Morning Music post-9/11, but of course we gained you - Mr. Lopate, and Brian Lehrer on the FM side. And John Schaefer's Soundcheck too. I have learned much from all of you. It's nice to hear Mr. Post back on the air, but it's not quite the same as the old days. Congratulations Mr. Lopate on your anniversary. All of you at WNYC do extraordinary work. Thank you!

Mar. 05 2008 01:43 PM
Kira from Astoria

I was only one year old when you started at WNYC. Now I am 24 and listen almost every day. I am probably on the younger end of WNYC's audience, but I still find the show to be engaging and up-to-date in kind of an ageless way... I think it appeals equally to me and people my parents' age, which is part of what makes it so great! Happy anniversary Leonard!

Mar. 05 2008 01:41 PM
eva from spiritually? Newark

The lemon clip of Pegeen that you just played was hysterical.

It sounded like a bit from a Joe Frank skit.

Can't believe it.

Thanks for playing it, but thanks more for all the great shows.

Mar. 05 2008 01:34 PM
Daniel Lane from Kearny, NJ

Tell me Leonard, do you still cup your hand behind your ear when you speak into the microphone?

Congrats Lad.......keep up the good work!

Mar. 05 2008 01:32 PM
Gary from Long Island

There are so many shows that were brilliant that I can't pick out just one. Leonard's show is the only radio show that I plan my day around and make sure I am near a radio or that I am able to listen to via the web. The few shows I miss I aways download and listen on my ipod or MP3 player.

I am happy for Leonard when he goes on vacation, but like Charlie Rose, you realize how good they are because the stand-ins always seem so lacking for the most part.

I hope for many more years for you.

Mar. 05 2008 01:31 PM
Nancy from New York

I'm listening right now, and wanted to mention that I think RADIO READER (with Dick Istel) is still on the air -- my mom listens to it in North Carolina.

Thanks for playing the Pegeen clip! I remember the time she talked about how much she loved rope.

It was such fun to hear Pegeen, Lenny & Kate chatting

Mar. 05 2008 01:29 PM
Ellen from Brooklyn

I love Leonard's show and listen every day - keep up the great work and congratulations!

Bring back Steve post every week!! Those 5 weeks were a tease, please, please, bring him back! Where else can we enjoy both his witticisms and the divine Emily Levine?

Mar. 05 2008 01:27 PM
levine josh

Sublime hearing Leonard at the top of his game -- month after month after month.

Mar. 05 2008 01:26 PM
Chicago Listener

i just want to add my voice to the chorus of ex-pat new yorkers thankful for your sustaining us via the web. a million, million thanks for all you have done and continue to do. you are a healthy dose of new york sensibility. i think i am just grateful to you for exposing me to so many books and musicians and cuisines, scientific theories, political many things that have made life, and radio, more interesting.

thank you.

Mar. 05 2008 01:24 PM
antonio from gotham slope

Your a true treasure Leonard! Congratulations on 23 years!
I remember when Leonard TRIED to interview Jerry Lewis, but JL gave Leonard such a hard time! It was so funny because Jerry was being such a parody of a star from a bygone era, Lenny handled it well!!!

Mar. 05 2008 01:04 PM
Nancy from New York

Wow! I've been listening since the days of Pegeen. I think the show was called "Senior Edition" at the time, and I felt kinda weird that I liked it so much even though I was a young person in my 20s. And now I'm in my late 40s! It would be hard to pin down my favorite moments. I need to think about that.

Thank you for enriching my life in so many ways!

Mar. 05 2008 01:04 PM
Brendan from East Village

Thank you, Leonard.

I believe you're the most versatile, well-rounded and knowledgable host on radio today. (...and perhaps ever. Who's better? That could be a whole separate topic for listeners to blog about.)

I admire your appreciation, understanding and passion for so many diverse topics. Politics, sports, music, history, visual art, pop culture, literature, cinema. High, low, old, new, smart, funny. You know it and love it all. You carry on intelligent discussions and real conversations, and it's evident that your interview subjects appreciate that. So do I.

Mar. 05 2008 01:01 PM
Michael from Queens

Congratulations to Leonard and his production staff.

In world overhelmed by facile and adamant opinionation, Leonard is undoubtedly a world-class practitioner at the top of his game -
of a very under-appreciated and misunderstood art-form, providing a great beneficial service to both a culture and its individual constituents.

I for one am truly grateful for the priviledge and opportunity to participate as a listener.

Thank you Leonard.


Mar. 05 2008 12:55 PM
eva from spiritually? Newark

Leonard Lopate is so good that he has essentially spoiled us for listening to any other radio show, with the exception of Brian Lehrer's show, which is equally great. But I like how much more intimate and timeless Leonard's show is. It's a very different feel, less nervy and more reflective.
Leonard's remarkable range of knowledge really adds to the depth of the questions that are asked. I find his tone to be very humble, and am surprised that anyone would suggest he has an arrogant tone. Face it, when your guests are all over the map, from the arts to politics to the sciences, you can't know everything 100% of the time, especially when you work at the depth Leonard does.
His voice was born for radio, it's calm, resonant and charismatic.
I've been listening to Leonard for 10 years now, Leonard seems like a part of the family, and he's what brought me in as a listener and WNYC member. BTW, I've always been intrigued by the fact that Leonard was originally a painter and his brother is a writer named Philip - it reminds me of another fraternal writer/painter pair, the writer Philip Roth and his brother who is an painter.

Mar. 05 2008 12:53 PM
Jane from Westchester

I'm always amazed that Leonard can find intelligent questions to ask several guests every day--it must take an enormous amount of preparation. I too enjoy it when guests say, "That's an important point in my book; I'm surprised no one has asked the question before," as a recent guest did. I love the shows about food--Tastes of the Lower East Side was a favorite--and ones about New York's past. But Leonard has been educating me for years in areas I'd never pursue anywhere other than public radio. Congratulations, and may you long continue!

Mar. 05 2008 12:47 PM
steven ball from mobile when listening home belmar,nj

Happy anniversary Mr. Lopate,
I look forward to "please explain' but it is Leonard's style of holding his guests to answer questions and not worm out that i truly enjoy.
keep broadcasting

Mar. 05 2008 12:37 PM
Tony Rodriguez from Queens NY

I am 41 years old now and some ten tears ago I stumbled onto your show with Patricia T. O'Conner as your guest. I listened to the show and was instantly hooked. At that time I was a maintenance worker and I have since gone back to school (Queens College) and I will soon be graduating with my degree in sociology. Thank you Leonard, you have opened my eyes to countless subjects that have reawakened my thirst for knowledge. When I graduate I will have you to thank. Thank you.

Mar. 05 2008 12:34 PM
chestina (felt pressure to change it) from Midtown

Maybe when you interviewed two figure skaters one day Brian Boitano and anotehr day, Dorothy Hamill - I began to suspect a closet skating fan which I got a huge kick out of. I thought you held your own, though. Congratulations on 23 years.

Mar. 05 2008 12:33 PM

Recalling the days of "New York and Company" when Leonard kindly and patiently co-hosted the program with Pegeen Fitgzgerald and a young woman. The late Ms. Fitzgerald tried to carry on with the cozy WOR neighborhood chat style from "Breakfast With Dorothy and Dick" (Kilgallen and Kollmar) and "The McCanns at Home."
Pegeen would ramble about her esteemed clergy friends and esoteric local chatter. The banality must have been quite painful for Leonard but he maintained his gracious self throughout. Must have been painful for you Leonard. We are blessed to have Leonard's gifted, quality programming. Leonard and WNYC hosts are a daily pleasure. (I have not owned a television in thirty years).
With thanks, wishing you health and happiness,
Bill Kane

Mar. 05 2008 12:28 PM
Peter Joseph from Greenwich Village

I emailed you once to protest a guest who, I said, "sounded like the Israeli Government's Press Office!" You emailed me back to say: "I've got a show to run. Get a life!"

Mar. 05 2008 12:24 PM
markbnj from www.markbnj/ or

Hey Leonard.

Just a quick shout.

Yes, we all love you.
Sometimes you seem arrogant, and sometimes you are just so great...

But I think my very favorite pair of NPR moments were when the 80's rock groups KISS's lead (Gene Simmons) came on Leonard (and Terry Gross too), and got totally demolished by them.

If I remember correctly, Simmons actually walked out of the interview with Leonard...

(and Terry has replayed (several times) the Simmons interview as one of her all-time worst.)

It was bad enough that he was pimping his "KISS" licensed caskets, but ow, what a jerk...

Mar. 05 2008 12:11 PM
Steven Levine from Brooklyn

Kissinger versus Lopate
The only interview I've heard where someone asked tough questions of Kissinger. You forced him to answer uncomfortable questions on East Timor, Chile and many other atrocities he was directly and indirectly involved with. You caught him off guard and unprepared. Your lack of deference was refreshing. Have you invited him to return?

Mar. 05 2008 12:09 PM
Boris from NJ

"Dustyevsky" is now part of my vocabulary. It cannot be said better!

Mar. 05 2008 12:05 PM

Congratulations, Lenny--you don't look old enough to have a 23-year-old show!
I first listened to you in the 80s, and I loved the interviews with Michael Harrington and John Hess. I became a vegetarian after listening to an interview you did with Pegeen Fitzgerald. I now live in Canada and listen on the web.

Mar. 05 2008 11:16 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

I'm delighted that we'll hear from Steve Post. I do so miss his morning program. I used to listed to Steve in the morning on FM and then switch to AM for Leonard at noon. (I worked nights so I was home during the day in those pre internet days). In those days it was hard to get AM and I'd have to move the small radio around to get reception. If the static got too bad on AM I'd switch back to FM for Performance Today (a wonderful program which NPR dropped).

My favorite programs: anything on books, threater, dance. I remember author interviews too numerous to mention. And Survival Kit ((sigh)).

I'm always delighted to hear a guest say, in response to a question from Leonard, "That's a good question. I hadn't thought of that." And it happens with surprising regularity.

Mar. 05 2008 11:03 AM
malvina wasserman from New York, New York

Dear Mr. Lopate, I am a devoted listener. I am a teacher and I catch parts of your afternoon broadcast between classes and then listen to most of the overnight rebroadcast. You have introduced me to so many books and films with your thoughtful and engaging interviews.
But my FAVORITE ALL TIME LEONARD LOPATE moment involved sports. I continue to be dazzled by your encyclopedic knowledge of cultural issues, history, literature, the arts -- it really is stunning. But your interview a couple of years ago with Dean Smith of North Carolina was the kicker! You had so much terrific information at your finger tips about college basketball! How do you do it? I was thinking -- is it just me? I consider myself well informed on many subjects, but I always learn something from you. At the end of the interview a smiling Dean Smith said "You certainly know a lot about a lot of things!"
He was right.

Congratulations on your anniversary. I look forward to the next 23 years.

Malvina Wasserman

Mar. 05 2008 05:06 AM
Glenn from Manhattan

Jane Fonda was good, but she had a similar interview on Charlie Rose and Terry Gross. So do many of Leonard's guests making the PR circuit.

My thoughts about Leonard's show are that like the NY Times, there are many half truths expressed and unqualified guests inserted as 'experts'. Will the move to the new studios and increased WNYC budget, commercialization and fundraising mean WNYC becomes more entertainment than public service?

I think Leonard likes to listen to himself talk, and for sure, his voice does sound good.

Mar. 05 2008 01:44 AM
TC from San Francisco

Happy anniversary and many thanks from the west coast. Favorites here are Patricia T. O'Connor and Please Explain. It's always a surprise.

Mar. 04 2008 11:25 PM
Trevor Jones from Long Island City

I remember once I called in to the show when Leonard was talking to the fix-it guys because I have a brick that is weirdly disintegrating in my bathroom. I still haven't followed the advise and fixed the brick, but Leonard did say to me, "You've got a bad brick!", so now my "Kevin Bacon factor" is increased significantly to loads of celebrities, intellectuals, artists and politicians!

Also, we know that Leonard apparently loves jazz, but he NEVER mentions what his theme music is! After a long arduous quest on the world wide web, I found it is various tracks by Pepper Adams, Blue Mitchell and Donald Byrd.

Here's to Leonard, who's not only been a great host at WNYC, but also at two other great New York broadcasting institutions, WBAI and WKCR!

Mar. 04 2008 09:13 PM
Lori from Lefferts Gardens


I've often thought the same thing. Seeing this in print makes me wonder if perhaps this is intentional on Mr. Lopate's part as part of a strategy to make the guest comfortable.

Leonard, my favorite part of your shows include your under-reported series and your love of puns.

Mar. 04 2008 03:41 PM
Christie Fountain from Greenwich, Conn.

I have a fond memory of the time Leonard celebrated his show's anniversary by hosting a pianist who played "Happy Birthday" in the style of any composer suggested by people calling in.

Mar. 04 2008 02:09 PM
Jacq Jones from Baltimore (previously NYC)

I moved to NYC in February of 2001. After September 11th, I was living in Williamsburg with no cable, and so no tv. I listened to WNYC and you, especially, for days at a time. If I was home, you were on. During that time we were all so desperate for reliable information, for anything that gave us an illusion of control. Your voice gave me strength and made me feel a little bit safer during a very difficult time.

To this day, even though I live in Baltimore, I listen to you online most days. Since I work in a retail store that means my customers are listening to you too (while they shop for their sex toys - grin).

thanks for being there

jacq jones

Mar. 04 2008 01:48 PM
Tasja from Madrid, Spain

I think Leonard's best moment is every evening that I can listen to him live in my home in Spain, thanks to I left NYC 10 years ago, but I get transported back everytime I listen. Thanks for helping stay in touch with my inner New Yorker.

Mar. 04 2008 01:43 PM
Max Aldoror from New York City

My favorite memory of the Leonard Lopate show isn't one particular incident but an ongoing one. Several times every show, virtually every show in all the years I've been listening, Mr. Lopate will confidently venture a point of fact with his guest, and the guest will say no, that's not right at all. For instance, today, Mr. Lopate said the rivers were running with blood in Ruanda, and Martin Fletcher said no, that was not the case. It's just very funny how Mr. Lopate continually makes the same basic journalistic gaff over and over for so many years, being so sure he's right and then getting shot down as politely as possible by his guest. I guess what makes it so funny is Mr. Lopate's smug, know-it-all demeanor. Hearing him make a fool of himself is just so amusing, and I keep tuning in for what I've taken to calling a "Lenny Leap." Anyway, that's my memory of the show. OK, thanks.

Mar. 04 2008 01:42 PM
Jennifer Muller from Portland Maine

I look forward to your show every day. I no longer live in NYC but in Portland, Maine and I still stream you even though we have wonderful public radio here as well. I am always fascinated and amazed by the scope of your show and the depths of the issues you choose to talk about. THANK YOU for being on the air, you are very much appreciated.
Jennifer Muller

Mar. 04 2008 01:38 PM
TM from Brooklyn

Leonard vs. Henry Kissinger, hands down.

Mar. 04 2008 01:11 PM

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