Let’s first get to the oft-asked question: What’s with the name “Lionel”? Lionel what? 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? Simple. Ben-Hur was taken.
A native New Yorker born elsewhere, Lionel has been performing spoken word (radio, podcasting, stand-up comedy, aggressive whispering) for over 25 years (113 dog years).
Don’t even try labeling him, his politics or his ideology as such is for naught: The polymath Lionel is the quintessence of sui generis. He has a black belt in Realpolitik and answers to political atheist. While just out of college he was a District Aide to Florida U.S. Senator Richard (Dick) Stone and then worked on his statewide campaign. As Lionel is wont to say: “Stone was the only Senator with his Dick in parentheses.” (You had to be there.)
Carol Channing scares Lionel 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. He insists that his audience be fearless in asking any questions about anything.
The stylishly barbate Lionel loathes trite shibboleths, playbook and bumper sticker labels as well as restless leg syndrome.
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 talk radio 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 all in less than a year. The rest is . . . well, you know the line.
Lionel was a Florida “MASH unit” prosecutor in every division of the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office and then he jumped ship, found Jesus and shifted to 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 the heritage 77 WABC-AM, evenings in New York on yet another historic station 710 WOR-AM and then mornings and middays on Air America Media.
He broadcast on perhaps the first Internet radio station ever on eYada.com and was nationally syndicated on Premier Radio and Rex Broadcasting. He provided daily commentary on New York’s WCBS 880 Radio during President Clinton’s impeachment proceedings and takes credit for the Senate’s failure to convict.
Lionel’s performed standup comedy throughout the tri-state area for years and plays a respectably wicked rhythm and flatpicking guitar in his bluegrass trio “Lock ‘n Load.” The immaculate twang of bluegrass meets spoken word.
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 advocates the criminalization of men wearing sandals with socks as well as backpacks on subways. He’s a proud logodaedalus, sesquipedalian and accomplished manualist (channeling his performance artist hero, the great Le Pétomane) and he often goes to bed without saying goodbye.
He emphasizes the absurd and recondite and there’s a lot to emphasize. He has often said that he’d rather be the editorial cartoon than the editorial.
Politics, music, popular culture deconstruction and decoding, 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 entertainment. 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 and day part 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 was honored by his inclusion in the Talkers inaugural 2013 Frontier Fifty described as “A selection of outstanding Talk Media Webcasters” for his pioneering efforts in spoken word podcasting.
Lionel is the author of “Everyone’s Crazy Except You and Me . . . And I’m Not So Sure About You” (Hyperion).
Lionel’s been a legal analyst, commentator and an excruciatingly early morning anchor on New York’s PIX 11 News and is a regular featured guest on TV, radio and shortwave shows of all types. And as they say on QVC, but wait, there’s more. The twice Emmy® nominated Lionel also provides a relentless stream of audio and video podcasts on his website LionelMedia.com.
There isn’t a day that goes buy where Lionel isn't stopped on the street and not reminded by a faithful viewer and L-Train fan of his signature valedictory: Comment as you see fit! And do they ever.
And when it comes to the lecture circuit and public speaking, Demosthenes himself would weep at Lionel’s command of the mother tongue and his hypnotic death grip on an audience.
Lionel detests magicians and mimes, and in his free time Lionel enjoys spelunking, horology and making haggis for friends. But that’s a joke because he’s a vegan. Hardcore. Plant-based, Sparky.
Newsweek called Lionel “[a]n intellectual known for his irreverent political and social humor.” (April 23, 2007)
This quote from the legendary 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.