Scarlett Johansson, Tina Fey, Yevgeny Yevtushenko and 34 Nobel Prize Winners (including Barack Obama) are just a smattering of the many renowned and eclectic array of guests Leonard Lopate has interviewed in his career as a radio host at WNYC.
Last Sunday, Lopate, who recently celebrated his 26th year with WNYC, was a guest speaker at an event sponsored by –the 59 acre premier senior living community currently being developed by IDG Corp.
The event was open to prospective home buyers, who, in addition to engaging in an interactive session with Lopate, were given optional tours of the property and sample luxury townhouses and apartments.
“Most people here are from Westchester, several are from the city, and others are from Connecticut,” said Shelley Lotter, assistant vice of market, of the guest list. “Attendees are future residents, people that know they are going to be living here and people that are exploring the possibility of living here."
Lopate is example of the type of programming the residence will offer.
“We offer a robust set of events and activities for individuals...actually Robert Klein was here recently,” expanded Lotter.
Prior to the onset of the scheduled discussion, Lopate told Patch his reason for speaking at The Club.
“I’ve done other speeches, it’s a wonderful experience,” he said. “People are my listeners, and they’re enthusiastic listeners. They are the people I broadcast to and I like to hear what they have to say as well.”
Lopate, a self-described “generalist,” preferred not to identify a favorite guest or topic: “The fun of doing the show is that I can talk about anything as long as it is of interest to listeners. If it’s boring, then I have failed.”
But there are topics Lopate tends to shy away from.
Lopate gave an example–“I don’t want to get into issues regarding the Middle East…I don’t want to be pro-this or pro-that…but if it can be done in a way that is fair, balanced, and informational then I will do it. I don’t like to stir a hornet’s nest; I’m not a judge or jury.”
Prior to Lopate’s entrance into the venue’s air conditioned tent, audience members were clearly eager for the arrival of the guest speaker.
“I had been to several presentations here [The Club]. The reason I really came was to hear Leonard Lopate. I’ve listened to him on NPR,” revealed Anne Friedman of Eastchester.
Lewis Beckenstein, an invitee from Chappaqua, was asked what prompted him to attend.
“My wife,” he laughingly quipped.
Wife Paula quickly interjected, “Leonard Lopate! I always listen to him and now I came to see him speak.”
After quick introductions by the IDG group, Lopate got down to business–obviously delighting his listeners with his career history–including a stint as an artist–and tales from his many years in the business. Lopate was self-deprecating enough to criticize his college radio performance, describing his introduction of music titles–back in the day–as repetitive and flatly monotone.
Lopate estimates he has interviewed thousands of people over the years and was willing to share several of the most unpleasant guest experiences.
Referring to comedian Jerry Lewis Lopate said, “I don’t know what his problem was.”
Apparently Lewis was disagreeable enough that, for Lopate, it shed new light on the breakup with Dean Martin.
After her divorce from Steven Spielberg, actress Amy Irving evidently arrived at a show with a bit of an attitude.
When Leonard Lopate commented to Irving, “Didn’t you get a very generous divorce settlement from Spielberg?” Irving replied with, “I’m leaving.”
Throughout the event, Lopate lightheartedly related many radio experiences to the obvious delight of the audience. Topics ranged from bagel makers to Barack Obama. Interestingly, Lopate's show received the most press when Christopher Walken was the guest host.
Judging by the laughter and numerous questions posed to Lopate, invitees certainly seemed to revel in Lopate’s performance.
“He was great, very cool. He is super charming, that’s for sure,” commented Rayna Zeidenberg of White Plains.
And by the way, how does Lopate feel about those Saturday Night Live parodies of NPR?
“It’s cheap, but what the heck!”