Let’s get to the first oft-asked question: What’s with the name “Lionel”? No last name? Nope. Mononymous, like God. Get over it.
The nom de radio actually comes from Al Pacino’s character in the 1973 film classic “Scarecrow.” Why? “Ben-Hur” was taken. Lionel has been performing spoken word talk (radio, podcasting, aggressive whispering) for over 22 years (100 dog years).
Don’t even try labeling him or his ideology as such is for naught: The polymath Lionel is the quintessence of sui generis. Carol Channing scares him as does the size of Lincoln’s ears. He implores and entreats his audience to critically think and analyze, to parse topics and peel the layers of the issue onion. The barbate Lionel loathes trite shibboleths, playbook and bumper sticker labels as well as leprosy.
Lionel started as a mere radio caller whilst in law school in his home town of Tampa (cf. Tampa Bay) and was given his own show in 1988 on 970 WFLA – a weekend show (Sunday, no less). For reasons yet to be fathomed, he then jumped to middays, then afternoon drive in less than a year. The rest is . . . well, you know the line. Lionel was a prosecutor and criminal defense trial lawyer, so when a legal issue needs dissecting, who’s better to consult? Lionel hosted his own show Snap Judgment on Court TV and has appeared as a guest on virtually every news commentary show. Then again, who hasn’t?
In talk radio Lionel’s “committed” afternoon drive in Tampa on 970 WFLA-AM, morning and afternoon drive in New York on 77 WABC-AM, evenings in New York on 710 WOR-AM and mornings and middays on Air America Media. He broadcast on one of the first Internet radio shows on eYada.com and was nationally syndicated on Premier Radio and Rex Broadcasting. He provided daily commentary on NY’s CBS 880 Radio during President Clinton’s impeachment proceedings and takes credit for the Senate’s failure to convict.
Lionel performed standup comedy in the tri-state area for years and played a respectfully wicked and rhythm guitar in his bluegrass trio “Lock ‘n Load.” He produced a CD in 1996 considered by some to be the greatest recording of its kind in recorded history: You Don’t Look Like You Sound(1996, Music Masters/BMG). N.B. “Of its kind.”
He never wears sandals with socks. He’s a proud logodaedalus, sesquipedalian and accomplished manualist and often goes to bed without saying goodbye. Lionel’s wit and biting humor are nonpareil. He has often said that he’d rather be the editorial cartoon than the editorial.
He emphasizes the absurd and recondite and there’s a lot to emphasize. Politics, music, pop culture, memetics, numismatics, name it – Lionel will tackle the issue. Talk radio, spoken word and commentary in general are supposed to be fun, last time Lionel checked; that’s why he never listens to it. He’s the Harold Stassen of talk radio. For revamped, rejuvenated, retrofitted and reinvented talk radio, Lionel is where to go.
He has consistently been the Number One rated talk host during his time period in New York . Talkers Magazine, the talk radio industry journal, listed him in the HEAVIEST HUNDRED: The 100 most important radio talk show hosts of all time.
Lionel is the author of “Everyone’s Crazy Except You and Me . . . And I’m Not So Sure About You” (Hyperion).
In addition to his nightly duties (as in seven a week) providing commentary on New York’s heritage 10 PM PIX 11 News and a weekly wrap-up on PIX 11’s Morning News, Lionel provides audio and video podcasts on his website LionelMedia.com.
He hates magicians and mimes, and in his free time Lionel enjoys spelunking, frottage and making haggis for friends.
This quote from the inimitable record producer Jerry Wexler perhaps says it best.
He wears the mantle of Lenny Bruce, with Lenny’s own tropisms: The Oblique, The Irreverent, The Tangential, The Concupiscent, The Polymorphous Perverse, The Arcane, The Numinous. And yet Lionel brings to the table his own savory: A love of the mother tongue and a gonzo vocabulary that puts his logo on all his works, whether talk-show hosting, standup-comic spritzing, or hanging out – with himself a minor art form.
He’s married and lives in New York with his beloved wife.