Leonard Lopate

Leonard Lopate

Lopate at the 2008 Brooklyn Book Festival
Born (1940-09-23) September 23, 1940[1]
Show The Leonard Lopate Show
Station(s) WNYC
Style Talk show host
Country United States

Leonard Lopate (born September 23, 1940) is host of the public radio talk show The Leonard Lopate Show, broadcast on WNYC.[2] He first broadcast on WKCR, the college radio station of Columbia University—where his brother Phillip was a student—then later at WBAI, before ultimately 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.[3] But when he was given a chance to host his first talk show on WBAI in 1977, he was hooked, and what began as a whim has become his life's work. Arguably, Lopate's background in art and literature (as well as in the commercial world) has been a major factor in his success.

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 evolved into his present-day show, 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", and 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.[4]

The Leonard Lopate Show

Gore Vidal with Lopate recording his show in 2009.

Lopate's talk show airs on WNYC from noon to 2 pm every weekday. Segments of the show are available as podcasts found on iTunes and on the station's website.

The show's Peabody Award-winning format typically consists of four interviews ranging from twenty to forty minutes in length and covers 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 are 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 interviews actors, playwrights and producers to talk about current NYC theatre productions.

Lopate introduced two ongoing features to the program. One is called "Please Explain", in which he talks with experts on a wide variety of topics that are not tied to book or movie releases and can be described as general interest. In 2006, some of the "Please Explain" topics he delved into included sainthood, nanotechnology, insomnia, infertility, and meditation.[5] The other feature is called "Underreported", in which Lopate delves deeply into political and social issues deemed not to have received sufficient media coverage.[6]

For the show's twentieth anniversary, in 2005, Tom Brokaw interviewed Lopate about the history of the show, Lopate's goals, and Lopate's interviewing style.[7]

The show was originally called New York & Company.

Personal life

His younger brother is the writer Phillip Lopate.[8]

Leonard Lopate lives with his girlfriend, painter and artist Melanie Baker.[9]


  1. "U.S. Public Records Index, Volume 2". Ancestry.com. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. 2010. (subscription required (help)).
  2. "WNYC - Lopate - Staff Bios". WNYC. Archived from the original on 2006-04-30. Retrieved 2006-04-07.
  3. "Leonard Lopate, Conversational Acrobat", by Warren St. John. New York Times, March 20, 2005.
  4. "Leonard Lopate - Biography", The Connecticut Forum.
  5. "Leonard Lopate - Links", Please Explain
  6. "Leonard Lopate - Links", Underreported.
  7. "Role-Reversal: Leonard Looks Back." WNYC - Leonard Lopate Show, March 11, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-04-15.
  8. Lopate, Phillip. "My Brother, My Life (with apologies to Pasternak)". Smith Magazine. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  9. "The Brooklyn Fridge" at the Wayback Machine (archived April 1, 2010), Edible Brooklyn, Spring 2010 (archived 2010)
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