Mr. Lopate told The New York Times that he was “baffled” and “really quite shocked and upset” by the suspension, which he said came without warning at 11 a.m. Wednesday as he was preparing for the noon broadcast of his show.
“It makes no sense to me,” he said. “I am sure any honest investigation will completely clear me. That’s the only thing I’m concerned about — the damage to my reputation.”
WNYC “didn’t even give me a clue” about the nature of the allegations, Mr. Lopate said. He said he had been told to meet Wednesday morning with Dean Cappello, executive vice president and chief content officer at WNYC and New York Public Radio, who was joined by the head of human resources and a union representative.
Mr. Lopate said he had pressed for details but had been told only that “there were many” complaints, including from guests, and that a quick investigation would be conducted.
“I have never done anything inappropriate on any level — that’s not the way I conduct my job,” he said. “This may just be the current environment, but this is kind of overkill.”
Later, when asked whether he remembered any specific incidents that might have been problematic, he said he had once used the word “testicle” in a colleague’s presence while explaining that the avocado derived its name from the Aztec word for the body part — a fact that was the subject of an NPR piece in 2006. But he was incredulous that such a statement would have resulted in a complaint to superiors.
Mr. Lopate and Mr. Schwartz have been part of the fabric of New York cultural life for decades.
“The Leonard Lopate Show,” with its often leisurely interviews of politicians, authors, composers and chefs,…