Catching Up with Lionel - TALKERS magazine

Catching Up with Lionel

| March 31, 2014

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast


LOS ANGELES — Recording artists running the gamut from Bing Crosby to Sam Cooke to Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross (among others) have wonderfully warbled to remind us that the “The Best Things in Life Are Free.”

A 1956 film that starred Gordon MacRae accentuated the point as well.

Offering a different take in the predominantly uplifting sentiment are the Beatles, who – while acknowledging the fact – nonetheless suggested those “free” things could be kept in exchange for “money” – but – that’s another story.

Smart, Funny, and Unedited

Back to the positive point: Words are free and no one in talk radio is more adroit, melodious, and astute in his splendidLionel large employment of the vocabulary than brilliantly witty Lionel, who generously remarks, “If you like my words – take them – they are not mine [anyway], they are yours. As a sesquipedalian and a logophile, I love the mother tongue. Do not marvel at the fancy words. It is part of who I am. I will never try to make people feel stupid. People love smart and funny – they crave it.”

These days, not only does Lionel get to demonstrate how deliciously lovely the language may be when utilized with panache, he also offers a veritable talk radio clinic.

On one hand, it is a fresh and innovative concept, while on the other, there is enormous simplicity to a back-to-the-basics approach. “It came about through the genius, foresight, and wherewithal of [TALKERS publisher] Michael Harrison,” Lionel comments of his Saturday, 9:00 am – 10:00 am ET TalkersRadio show. “It is just a joy and Michael is the preeminent voice in talk radio. Since the beginning, he has told me what I need to do must be the best.”

Great content, rather than flash, is the secret to Lionel’s presentation in this forum. “Michael says TalkersRadio is ‘experimental,'” Lionel notes. “To me, it is talk radio at its purest – exactly the way it should be – and that is revolutionary. It is unfettered, unencumbered, unchained, unedited, and uncontrolled. It is just ‘talk.'”

talkersradio logoFor master monologist Lionel, the weekly presentation is nothing short of ideal, but he unquestionably comprehends how others might find it daunting. “When you take away structure and interruption, you are removing safety nets,” he states. “It is exciting though for me. If you ask most people what radio they listen to, they wonder what a radio is. There are people who would love to find you, so give them something. Change — get with the program. This is obviously not a blanket indictment, but I cannot listen to a lot of talk radio. I try my best to sample, but most of it just annoys me.”

Talk Radio’s Death Knell

Approximately six Lionel-hosted TalkersRadio programs have appeared thus far online. “From the beginning, I have always wanted to do talk radio — my way,” he emphasizes. “I do not necessarily mean that as an obstructionist point-of-view. I wallow in humility, but when it comes to this, I know what I am doing. I know about this better than I know of many other things. The way I like doing it is to riff, to speak, to go off, and to talk. When you do talk radio, you put your brain in-gear as you paint a picture or explain something. As long as you think it is interesting, others will think it is too — for the most part.”

As far as Lionel is concerned, talk radio hosts themselves are the center of the genre. “Ideally, I am hired to be ‘me’ and not to use others as a crutch,” he declares. “If I engage in the lost art of using callers, it is okay so long as it is ‘me,’ as opposed to what is expected. If I talk to a newsmaker, it is because I want to and that it is critical to the show.”

Without meaning to “disparage” those who do such things as banter with movie critics every Friday so listeners know what films are playing on the weekend, Lionel reveals in his own no-holds-barred style that he would, “rather drink bleach or lick a belt sander than to be submitted to this dreck. This will be the end — the death — of talk radio. Many people out there want to be entertained. They want to think, to be excited, and they want to laugh. They do not fall under any particular political spectrum – they are just angry or concerned. There is an untapped resource and talk radio had better get its act together – and fast.”

Various talk radio elements are the same as what has been heard for the past three decades, prompting Lionel to offer advice to his fellow hosts: “Forget the soapbox thing. There are fascinating things out there. People have the opportunity to be engaged. TalkersRadio has removed what gets in the way of traditional talk radio.”

Likening the venture to MTV “Unplugged,” he enthuses, “When you hear someone without all the bells and whistles, you think to yourself, ‘Damn, he — or she — is good.’ I am not a missionary; I am not running for office; and I am not trying to change the world. The bottom line is entertainment and the product is me.”

Genesis to the roughly 60-minute stream-of-consciousness emanates from four or five ideas Lionel jots down in advance.

Previously, hours of preparation would go into each of his nightly 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET “Lionel Show” programs, which entered syndication January 3, 2000 and the nighttime broadcasts were distributed to over 100 stations by Premiere and Rex Broadcasting before landing on the WOR Network in 2003. “I know what I want to say,” he confirms. “No one wants to hear someone musing so I talk about what I am thinking about constantly. Something is going through my head every day. I have always been like that. It is all lock and load [coincidentally, the name of his bluegrass band], and ready-to-go.”

Ongoing roster enhancements have been made ever since TalkersRadio debuted. In addition to Lionel, other Saturday programming is “American Family Farmer with Doug Stephan” (8:00 am – 9:00 am) and “The Hard Question with Blanquita Cullum (10:00 am – 11:00 am). Sunday’s shows are “Robbie Student’s Bite the Hand” (6:00 pm ET – 7:00 pm ET); “Radio Lifeboat with DG & Mickey Gooch” (7:00 pm – 8:00 pm); and “Healed Planet with Alan Colmes” (8:00 pm – 9:00 pm). The TalkersRadio weekday lineup consists of Michael Harrison-moderated “The TALKERS Show” (Monday – Friday, 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm) and “The Brent (Seltzer) & Meg (McDonald) Show” (Monday – Friday, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm). All times noted are Eastern (ET).   According to TALKERS general manager of broadcast operations, David Bernstein, “This experimental radio station’s main purpose is to develop great new, unusual ideas and shows by established veterans as well as newcomers in a safe, open-minded environment for the sole purpose of having them eventually move on to a terrestrial or satellite platform.  It is part of this publication’s service to the industry – a lab or a gym.  Giving a brilliant host such as Lionel the space to work out new approaches to his expression without the restraint of stationality, format or corporate politics is a truly worthwhile endeavor.”

Attention-Getting Rant

Over and above exemplary use of idioms, flowery language, and superior content, Tampa-born Lionel has mastered the technical side of communicating with a sometimes gentle, subtle intonation, artistically contrasted at other instances with vociferous force. Possessing a vocal quality that has been compared to Curly Howard (of the Three Stooges) on Benzedrine to actor Joe Pesci on helium, he landed in radio by accident.

World-class prankster Lionel enjoyed listening to west coastal Florida outlets such as WPLP, WTKN, and WFLA. “That is when talk radio was great,” he opines. “It was live, local, and had a flavor. Local talk radio was the most wonderful thing in the world.”

Easily bored, the then-Stetson University College of Law student (he holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1980) called one particular day in the early-1980s when Jack Anderson was on Mutual Broadcasting. “I just started screaming, ‘You do not know what the hell you are talking about,” he emphatically recounts. “‘I hate you.'”

That was undoubtedly quite a way to get a host’s attention, with Lionel now calmly observing, “I thought it was fun and a lot of power.”

Diabolically Dedicated

Using an alias would be prudent if Michael William Lebron (his real name) were to continue punking radio talk show hosts. The middle name of an Al Pacino character from 1973’s “Scarecrow” touched a nerve. Consequently, “Lionel” — as in Pacino-portrayed “Francis Lionel Delbuchi” — has stuck ever since. “You Don’t Look Like You Sound” is the 1996 comedy album to Lionel’s credit and the former standup comic recollects that an Indian cab driver came up with one of the funniest lines he had ever heard: “Lionel is one name – like God.

Several simple rules of being a chronic talk show caller comprised Lionel’s madness. One was to be the first to get on-air so he could set the tone for the rest of the victim’s shift. “I also never talked about what they wanted to discuss and, when at all possible, tried to insult the host’s family,” he explains. “They had three hours left and I completely derailed the show.”

Unknown if others noticed it, Lionel would frequently dial back, using an accent and arguing against what he originally said.

Whenever Lionel made a bogus listener call, he would tape it; play it back; and critique it. “I would listen and laugh about how I could commandeer a radio station,” proclaims the man who typically concluded each of his own broadcasts by saying, “The monkey’s dead, the show is over, sue ya.”

Can’t Touch This

Symbolic of a radio twist of fate, Tampa’s WFLA — the very station Lionel pestered as a listener — contacted him in October 1988 to host a Sunday talk show. “My whole shtick was I was one of them — the Cesar Chavez of callers.”

wfla logoCredit for discovering his radio host potential goes to the spouse of a WFLA executive who heard “Lionel” as a caller and suggested he be put on-air, although as Lionel concedes, “I didn’t know anything about radio.”

Something he was aware of though was that weekend shows typically were bartered, so he conjectured how much he would have to fork over to the station for the privilege of being a host. When the inevitable remuneration conversation arose, Lionel was asked what he thought was fair. “My retort was to ask them the same question,” he playfully recalls. “All they could pay was $100. I was unseasoned, untested and I was going to risk losing their license — yet they were going to pay me.”

Moments prior to the start of the 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm Sunday shift, the newfound talent was given the most cursory training, as the assistant program director showed him the on/off button and said she would return at 7:00 pm. After the show, he was told it went well and they would see him the following week.

Just three months later, WFLA elevated Lionel to middays; by August 1989, he was promoted to afternoon drive. “I got wise and made more than $100 for each show,” he proudly points out.

Apparently having no apprehension of payback from aspiring copycat crank callers, Lionel even taunted them with direct challenges. “With all due respect, you can’t get near me,” he boasts, admonishing listeners their first task would be to advance past the screener. “That is the easiest thing in the world. Just say you love me. They should then ease into it.”

Heavyweight Humorists

In the early-1990s, then-ABC Radio president Jim Arcara, whom Lionel calls his “radio godfather,” could pull in WFLA’s signal from his Florida vacation home and Arcara asked if Lionel would be interested in relocating to New York. “He wanted me to leave a criminal trial practice where I had to sit in court for hours just waiting for a case to be called,” Lionel jests. “I had to chase deadbeats for bounced checks and deal with the flotsam and jetsam of humanity – and that was just the judges.”

wabcGlamorous as he portrays it, Lionel somehow decided to leave the legal world behind in December 1993 for a golden Gotham City opportunity at WABC, where he remained for five years. Whenever he is asked how to get into radio and go to New York City after five years with no prior radio experience, he has a standard answer, “Wait – someone will call.”  

Influential to the genial talk host’s career is former “Tonight Show” host Jack Paar, and perhaps the single greatest political satirist of all time — Mort Sahl, whom Lionel got to introduce several years ago when he emceed a “Heavyweights of Comedy” show on a bill that included Robert Klein and Dick Gregory.

Also on that list is the late WQAM, Miami midday talent Neil Rogers. “The first time I heard him was really wild,” Lionel remarks. “He was to sports talk radio what be-bop was to jazz. He did what he wanted on the air, including talking about harness racing. He was so ahead of the pack, so ahead of the game, and so ahead of the curve. He belched and ate on the air, and he was profane.”

Another talent for whom Lionel has a high regard is the late Bob Grant. “You had to admire not the guts this man had but the wheelbarrow-requiring, elephantine balls he had. He did not go after little folks. He would go after politicians and incur the wrath of some very powerful people — he was fearless.”        

It is hardly a prerequisite for Lionel to like someone in order to respect his or her on-air ability. “I do not agree with just about anything Michael Savage says but he is unique and cannot be copied,” Lionel maintains.

Too Many Set in Their Ways

Local talk radio was terrific in its heyday, Lionel theorizes, owing to the fact that the subject matter was interesting; however, he reasons, “If you are really good and unique, you do not have to be local. The talk radio world is completely different from when I started. I am at the top of my game by virtue of what I have known, what I have seen, what I have lived, and how the world and people are changing. My core talent is there.”

Imagine former Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy tossing up an old-school two-hand set-shot. Compare that to present-day NBA star LeBron James of the Miami Heat attacking the glass with a monster jam.

Basketball is basically still the same game, but drawing the analogy to talk radio, Lionel — whose voice becomes especially animated on this topic — contends that some people continue doing it with the Cousy mentality. That conjures up images of the peach basket Dr. James Naismith — who invented basketball in 1891 — used. “The delivery system has changed and it is time to get down to business. My cell phone is my radio. Talk radio is never, ever going to be replaced or programmed. There is a great opportunity, but for the most part, we are doing the same things we have done for the past 30 years. When I was a kid, you had one shot at the news all day — 6:30 pm with Walter Cronkite. Morning drive was great because you were the first person with the newspaper. Now I get pinged left and right every minute. It is a different world.”

Notwithstanding that he loathes the term because it is “always used incorrectly,” Lionel is of the belief that the country never had as many “conspiracy theories” as we do today. “What happened with that Malaysian airliner is talk radio perfection because it has so many legs to it,” he explains. “Talk radio is brash and bold.”

Rule number one for him — as uncomplicated as it sounds — is that the host must say something. “Don’t ever ask what the audience thinks,” Lionel implores. “What do you think happened to that Malaysian airliner? Say it. I said that, in many respects, Fred Phelps [the head of the Westboro Baptist Church, who died two weeks ago] was a hero. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t understand the context of the First Amendment. He is like the canary in the coalmine. If he could say the crap he did, there really must be a First Amendment. Talk radio teaches you to say something. Don’t be afraid — have an opinion.”

Messenger versus the Message

Commencing in May 2007 and remaining with Air America Radio until it was shuttered in January 2010, political atheist Lionel was part of the liberal-leaning network’s on-air roster and describes his tenure there as “very, very” interesting. “I normally do not like to speak ill of people who have paid me — and we were paid handsomely. Money was never a problem while Air America was in existence but they did not know how to run a radio network. They were running a political party – a movement. They were trying to counter Rush and the right wing with a message. I would always say that it was not the message stupid – it was the messenger.”

According to Lionel, Air America Radio executives did not fully comprehend that and he insists that they “forgot” it is radio. “There are a few folks who would listen 24 hours a day to, ‘Obama is good and the Republicans are bad,’ but not that many. The left-right paradigm is a joke. I could not figure out if the extreme right was crazier than the extreme left. It was almost as if they are not grounded in political reality. In terms of learning about what to do and what not to do, I saw things there I would have never imagined.”

Possibly the most important lesson he learned from his time at Air America Radio was to make sure you work for/with people who understand radio. “I cannot say this enough: It is a business,” Lionel underscores. “The person in charge has to be listening and must know what is good. That does not mean someone who has been in radio, not a sales manager, and not someone who understands cost-per-point. It is about what you are putting on the air. Is what you are doing any good? Where is the next revolution? People want to hear a genuine personality with whom they can connect.”

Compelling Complexion-Changers

Similar to how the industry expects music stations to match existing format labels, talk hosts are typically pigeonholed; however, Lionel believes the fact that he does not appear to be compatible with any specific box is a problem with decision-makers, rather than with him.

Given that he consistently rails against labels, it is virtually impossible for even Lionel to describe his own political stance. “I am one of a kind,” he mockingly offers. “I used ‘Libertarian’ for a while, thinking that would throw people off; they are Republicans who want to smoke dope. I would legalize all drugs, gambling, and prostitution. I am against all gun control and the death penalty.”

limbaughrushAmong those with whom he worked at WABC were the aforementioned Bob Grant and Rush Limbaugh, as well as Lynn Samuels, and former New York City mayor Ed Koch. “It was the most diffuse, disparate, different, and divergent group,” he points out. “We were blockbuster and they did not come up with that thing called ‘stationality’ – at least not in regards to political ideology. It didn’t matter if someone would comport with others on the station.”

To those believing everyone who listens to Limbaugh agrees with him, Lionel succinctly whispers, “Come on – no, no, no, sternhowardno. People go to Rush primarily because he is a tremendous broadcaster. He is a talent and you may — or may not — agree with his ideology. Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh changed the complexion of radio. Before Limbaugh, AM radio was static. He transformed AM and gave talk radio gravitas. Rush is compelling — and that is the thing. Howard Stern came along and made radio cool, hip, and subversive. ”

Particularly in light of his prankster past as it pertains to phone calls, few in the business realize it is a gift as much as Lionel does and he fittingly points out that Limbaugh hardly ever takes calls. “It depends who you are and you must have the best call screener. A great call screener is like a sommelier who gives you the correct wine with your dinner.”

Stink About It

Professional wrestling had a profound effect on Lionel’s life when he was a youngster, and “Sports Entertainment” — the term World Wrestling Entertainment chairman/chief executive officer Vince McMahon coined as a substitute for pro wrestling — actually has a tie-in to the talk host’s radio career. “Callers are either ‘baby-faces’ [good guys] or heels [bad guys],” Lionel details using wrestling parlance. “They are not really [heel wrestler] ‘Abdullah the Butcher,’ they are guys named Murray, but we put ‘over’ that person on the air. The caller is the pawn.”

Virtually meaningless is to have a talk host announce that his or her phone lines are all blinking. “They should be — there are only about six of them,” Lionel jokes. “If you want to get a lot of calls, put on a psychic — your phone lines will melt.”

Isolating one specific program as the most memorable in a career that has spanned roughly a quarter of a century would seem unrealistic, yet Lionel — who podcasts on in addition to his TalkersRadio program — is able to do so. It happened one day when he was working the 9:00 am – 12:00 noon shift at WFLA. “I lowered the microphone, which made me feel like I was talking to one person and said, ‘You might not have a strong opinion about the President, abortion, or capital punishment, but you must have experienced a smell that was so horrible you will never forget it. Thinking of it right now, you can recreate it in your mind.'”

What resulted for the next three hours was, in Lionel’s opinion, “the most riveting” show he has done. “This is truly where you work the caller.”

One person offering input was a veterinarian who had to put down a horse that had a vaginal tumor. “The vet got about 20 feet away and the smell hit him,” reflects Lionel, who repeated what the doctor had uttered. “You know you are doing a great job when co-workers look in the glass. They cannot believe you are doing it — they have to see it. That is a situation when you need a caller, you need people and want to talk to them as a friend. It sounds like Sally Field [in her 1985 Best Actress Oscar acceptance speech’] but they like you, and they like the show. It is not about a subject matter — it is about me. I am the product.”

Me, Myself, & I

Program directors constantly ask their talk hosts what they will be discussing on the show and Lionel’s response is easy to forecast. “I am going to talk about memy world — my view. They will shake their head and say that I talked about myself last week. Who cares? I am talking about me again today. There are no guests: I am the guest. I get frustrated about this, but it seems so obvious to me. Some hosts need guests every five minutes who are hawking something. I know several talk hosts who are like that, but it is not for me and I do not understand it. That is not theater-of-the-mind. Many great talk show hosts are out there but they do not even know they would be good at it. This is something you are born with — you cannot teach someone to do this.”

Putting someone on-air simply to spout a message is one of the biggest mistakes Lionel says broadcasters make. “Hire them because they are funny or they are good and have this message,” he recommends. “It does not matter if someone is a communist, an anarchist, or a socialist. If he or she does a good show, people will listen. It is okay to put on programs that counter-program the Republican right provided people doing them are good. Rush and Sean Hannity are good at doing radio. Listeners do not want to be lectured to, and they are not writing down on yellow pads what you are saying.”

Despite his praise of Limbaugh and Hannity, Lionel neither is a fan of conservative talk radio nor is he enamored with that phrase. “It has been co-opted by a bunch of idiots who do not understand conservatism,” he comments. “I agree with some American conservatism tenets espoused by William F. Buckley Jr. and Barry Goldwater. I did not know what Rush meant when he said he was a conservative but he is obviously very successful.”

Numerous Limbaugh wannabes have emerged over the years with many hoping to out-Rush Rush, but as Lionel stresses, “What they did not realize was that Rush is funny. It was not necessarily his ideology — it was his personality. Talk radio, for the most part, has turned into a stenographic, cookie-cutter, Republican echo chamber.”

WPIX LogoWhereas radio is theater-of-the-mind, television loves graphics that fill up the screen. Talk radio provided Lionel with the greatest preparation for his now four-year role as a WPIX-TV, New York on-air commentator and the station’s legal analyst. “If you are any kind of performer, television offers you a chance to give expression,” the Emmy nominee notes. “I obviously have more time in radio. Three minutes in television is an eternity. You can make it funny on television by saying, ‘Guess who died — this guy’ and you find the worst possible picture of Fred Phelps. That is how you incorporate the visual into your presentation. Even television folks though can get caught in a crutch. Every single time they talk about obesity rates on television, you see a ‘B-Roll’ of fat people from the waist down. These poor people are lumbering around while people at home are saying, ‘There’s Uncle Dave.’ That is television in general and you can work with it, but it is a different challenge.”

Firmly believing in rights of all kinds, Lionel has a surefire way to make a mark on his first day in a market, and it would not be about airing his views on the economy, individual politicians, gay marriage, or war. “I would say, ‘Let me make one thing clear — if you spank your kids, you are sick because spanking is child abuse. It is not parenting – it is anger.’ Some listeners will not be able to get out of their car because they will be glued to the radio. The louder someone gets — the softer I get. Not too often, they want to hear yelling. That is theater. If this is radical, then I am more radical than I ever have been. I always say what does not destroy me maims me.”

Meaty Matters

Trial work was rewarding for Lionel but the former host of Court TV’s “Snap Judgment” does not miss that phase of his life. Pleased though that he had that perspective, he asserts that the 1995 case where O.J. Simpson was tried on two counts of murder is what put him on the map. “Everybody was beating around the bush; no one understood what was going on in the trial. I saw through it and said what expert consultants missed.”

Skilled at being a lawyer, standup comedy, and a radio talk host, Lionel maintains that radio is the most difficult of the three, while standup is the easiest. “You are up there a certain amount of time; they pay you; and you go home and get better,” he states of those positioned in front of the once omnipresent brick wall. “Being a lawyer is serious because someone’s liberty may be at stake, but if you don’t win, it might not be your fault.”

Lionel will be appearing again at the Cutting Room in New York City on May 10.  For information and tickets click here.

Little-known fact is that occasional mile-a-minute talker Lionel is a stutterer. It actually would not be hyperbolic to describe that as even being a shocking tidbit, as he camouflages it so well and demonstrates to others that he can work around it. “When I cannot get words out, it is a horrible thing,” he laments. “I have been lucky because mine is not a seriously organic problem. There is no brain damage, but I feel it. There are times I have to redirect the cadence.”

Along with his Broadway producer wife, Lynn Shaw (who is now developing a new TV series), Lionel is into the New York-centric art scene and the couple loves documentary films. As of about five years ago, the always-dapper Lionel went completely vegan and he admits some of his fellow vegans tend to be very pompous. That does not pertain only to a vegan’s views on animal cruelty, but to their individual dietary habits. “I am very interested in what I eat, and organic means a lot to me. It helps me every single day. Intellectually, we all know that what we are eating is wrong. You can reduce – if not reverse – serious health conditions just by eating regular stuff. Perhaps I was too young, but I never understood it. We are under attack now because of ‘Big-Agra,’ which was never in my life before. I do not do a health show — I hate those things.”

Personality profiles such as this one quite clearly do not customarily include recipes, but an exception is made here owing to the tremendous passion with which Lionel expresses his convictions. “There is one little thing you should do for the rest of your life,” he beseeches. “Grind three tablespoons of flaxseed and throw it into something. It is mindboggling what you have just done. You have more Omega-3 in there than you can imagine. Believe me — you cannot get that any place else. Put it in with frozen organic bananas, organic blackberries, and protein powder for the most incredibly delicious smoothie. I thought there was no way I could go without eating meat. I am not into anything spiritual but it is amazing what it does to your brain. Chicken is probably worse for you than beef because of the growth hormones. The Ted Baxter, sock puppet, echo chamber, bumper sticker, playbook media — these worthless, impuissant, feckless, invertebrate, spineless people will not show any of this on television. Never — ever — under any circumstances; Woodward and Bernstein are a thing of the past.”

Infatuating Intimate Medium

harrisonmichaelEverything professionally about Michael (“Lionel”) Lebron can easily be crystallized into one sentence: The affable man loves talk radio and he excels at it.  “When Lionel is left to his own on-air devices and not squished into an existing talk ‘format,’ ‘formula’ or cookie-cutter political ideology, he is capable of creating a level of compelling content the quality of which we haven’t heard since the days of Jean Shepherd, Michael Harrison confidently states.  “All we have done at TalkersRadio is encourage him to do whatever he wants and as a result we have benefited from the brilliant results of that strategy.  What he does for us would fit any talk format out there today if the programmers didn’t ‘try to make it fit’ what they think is the only way to make talk radio work.” 

Making the most of his current TalkersRadio arrangement, he ponders further about finding, “a powerful well-positioned perfect terrestrial talk radio platform” with the correct everything. “TalkersRadio is the way some actors speak of theater, where they can preserve and develop their ‘chops.’ Everyone should be doing it this way. I want to see it grow into something substantive, different, and on its own. In the old days, when you had a book, you went to a publisher because they owned the press. To release an album, you needed to go to a record company because they had the equipment. That has all changed.”

Being on the air is not a job for Lionel, but rather a combination of art form and therapy. “I have benefitted so much to be able to explain what I think,” the author of 2008’s Hyperion-published Everyone’s Crazy Except You and Me … And I’m Not So Sure About You, declares. “It is going to be something else when we master telepathy in radio. I am waiting for that one. Until then, radio is so easy yet it is so difficult. I feel this medium was created for me as an extension of who I am. Whether you like it or not, I guarantee no one else does what I do, and no one thoroughly enjoys it as I do. Radio has a wonderful intimacy and is still a blast for me. It is perfect and it sure beats working.”

(NOTE: Lionel can be emailed at


Contact TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian at Meet both Mike Kinosian and Lionel at Talkers New York 2014 on Friday, June 20.


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