Scott Simon

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

Simon's weekly show, Weekend Edition Saturday, has been called by the Washington Post, "the most literate, witty, moving, and just plain interesting news show on any dial," and by Brett Martin of Time-Out New York "the most eclectic, intelligent two hours of broadcasting on the airwaves." He has won every major award in broadcasting, including the Peabody, the Emmy, the Columbia-DuPont, the Ohio State Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Sidney Hillman Award. Simon received the Presidential End Hunger Award for his coverage of the Ethiopian civil war and famine, and a special citation from the Peabody Awards for his weekly essays, which were cited as "consistently thoughtful, graceful, and challenging." He has also received the Barry M. Goldwater Award from the Human Rights Fund. Recently, he was awarded the Studs Terkel Award.

Simon has hosted many television specials, including the PBS's "State of Mind," "Voices of Vision," and "Need to Know." "The Paterson Project" won a national Emmy, as did his two-hour special from the Rio earth summit meeting. He co-anchored PBS's "Millennium 2000" coverage in concert with the BBC, and has co-hosted the televised Columbia-DuPont Awards. He also became familiar to viewers in Great Britain as host of the continuing BBC series, "Eyewitness," and a special on the White House press corps. He has appeared as a guest and commentator on all major networks, including BBC, NBC, CNN, and ESPN.

Simon has contributed articles to The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Sunday Times of London, The Guardian, and Gourmet among other publications, and won a James Beard Award for his story, "Conflict Cuisine" in Gourmet. He has received numerous honorary degrees.

Sports Illustrated called his book Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan "extraordinary...uniformly superb...a memoir of such breadth and reach that it compares favorably with Fredrick Exley's A Fan's Notes." It was at the top of several non-fiction bestseller lists. His book, and Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, was Barnes and Nobles' Sports Book of the Year. His novel, Pretty Birds, the story of two teenage girls in Sarajevo during the siege, received rave reviews, Scott Turow calling it, "the most auspicious fiction debut by a journalist of note since Tom Wolfe's. . . always gripping, always tender, and often painfully funny. It is a marvel of technical finesse, close observation, and a perfectly pitched heart." Windy City, Simon's second novel, is a political comedy set in the Chicago City Council. Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other, an essay about the joys of adoption, was published in August 2010.

Simon's tweets to his 1.25 million Twitter followers from his mother's bedside in the summer of 2013 gathered major media attention around the world. He is completing a book on their last week together that will appear in time for Mother's Day 2015.

Simon is a native of Chicago and the son of comedian Ernie Simon and Patricia Lyons Simon. His hobbies are books, theater, ballet, British comedy, Mexican cooking and "bleeding for the Chicago Cubs." He appeared as Mother Ginger in the Ballet Austin production of The Nutcracker.

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Race
6:59 am
Sat April 25, 2015

Protesters Plan To 'Shut Down' Baltimore Saturday

Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 11:36 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Simon Says
4:56 am
Sat March 28, 2015

At Last, A Fitting Farewell For Richard III

White roses adorn the statue of Richard III outside Leicester Cathedral before the reinterment ceremony of King Richard III.
WPA Pool Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 28, 2015 9:56 am

Richard III was buried this week, two years after his abandoned bones were certified to be under a modern-day car park, and 530 years after he was the last English king to die in battle on English soil.

If you look past all the dukedoms and earldoms, the dust-up between the Houses of York and Lancaster called the War of the Roses doesn't sound dramatically different from a mob movie: thwacks, whacks, hanky-panky and blood.

Shakespeare just put that with more elegance.

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Simon Says
7:19 am
Sat February 21, 2015

The Heavy Moral Weight Of Carnegie Mellon's 800 Botched Acceptances

Originally published on Sat February 21, 2015 8:20 am

A lot of people saw their hopes and dreams fulfilled this week — for just a few hours.

Carnegie Mellon University emailed about 800 people who had applied to graduate school to say, 'Congratulations, you're in.' They were — to quote the message of acceptance — "one of the select few" to be accepted into Carnegie Mellon's prestigious Master of Science in Computer Science program.

A young woman in India who was accepted wrote on Facebook that she quit her job, bolstered by this act of faith in her future. Her boyfriend proposed marriage.

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Simon Says
10:19 am
Sat February 7, 2015

Oscar Romero, The Murdered Archbishop Who Inspires The Pope

People look at a portrait of Oscar Romero at the cathedral of San Salvador, where as archbishop he resisted a brutal regime. He was murdered and the Vatican has declared him a martyr.
STR AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis and the Vatican have recognized Oscar Romero as a martyr. This may move the name of the late archbishop of San Salvador a little further in the process that could one day make him a saint.

But being deemed a martyr is also holy. It means the church believes his life can inspire people; Pope Francis has said Romero inspires him.

Romero was considered a kindly, orthodox conservative parish priest when Pope Paul appointed him archbishop in 1977. He did not question El Salvador's ruling regime.

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Remembrances
6:37 am
Sat January 31, 2015

Rod McKuen, The Cheeseburger To Poetry's Haute Cuisine

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 12:14 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Simon Says
6:37 am
Sat January 31, 2015

It May Take A British Actor To Make An American Story Sing

British actor Idris Elba played Stringer Bell, second-in-command to Baltimore drug kingpin Avon Barksdale, in HBO's The Wire.
Alberto E. Rodriguez Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 12:20 pm

Martin Luther King Jr. is British. Coretta Scott King, too. So is Lyndon Baines Johnson, Superman, Batman, the last Abraham Lincoln, the ramrod U.S. Marine, and the chisel-chested CIA operative in Homeland, and many of the B'almer cops and hoods on The Wire. So are Philip on The Americans, Eli on The Good Wife, and both of those stealthily adulterous Americans on The Affair.

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Simon Says
8:03 am
Sat January 24, 2015

Let's Play Two! Remembering Chicago Cub Ernie Banks

Chicago Cub Ernie Banks, right, told NPR's Scott Simon, left, in 2014 that he had a lot of fun winning games, but the main thing in his life was "making friends."
Peter Breslow NPR

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 11:00 am

Every Saturday just before our show begins I get on the public address system here to announce to our crew, "It's a beautiful day for a radio show. Let's do two today!"

It's an admiring imitation of Ernie Banks, the Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame baseball player who died last night at the age of 83. Ernie used to say, especially in the long years of hot summers — including this last one, when the Cubs were stuck in last place — "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame. Let's play two today!"

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Media
7:44 am
Sat January 24, 2015

From A Frequent Flier To SkyMall, Thanks For The Memory Foams

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 11:08 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Animals
6:41 am
Sat January 17, 2015

Are Stripes A Zebra's Cooling System?

Originally published on Sat January 17, 2015 10:57 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Simon Says
6:50 am
Sat January 10, 2015

Satire May Be Uncomfortable, But Humor Makes Us Human

A man holds a pencil in the air during a minute of silence in Paris on Thursday for the cartoonists and other victims of gunmen on the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
Matthieu Alexandre AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 10:31 am

Satire is a tricky business. The punch lines quickly get stale. The same people who laugh at one joke can get offended by the next.

But this week, with the targeted killings of the cartoon satirists of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, we were reminded how dangerous people with no sense of humor can be.

The Onion ran a headline: "It is Sadly Unclear Whether This Article Will Put Lives At Risk."

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Simon Says
9:56 am
Sat December 20, 2014

Despite Its Beauty, Cuba Isn't Quite Ready For Tourists

In 1959, Fidel Castro imposed a law forbidding the import of foreign cars, so many Cubans drive and maintain older models.
Kate Skogen JetKat Photo

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 10:39 am

I've always had a good time in Cuba. The people are friendly and funny, the rum is smooth, the music intoxicating and the beaches wide, white and soft.

But you're accompanied everywhere by government minders. They call them responsables. Any Cuban you interview knows your microphone might as well run straight to their government.

If you want to talk to someone with a different view, you have to slip out of your hotel in the middle of the night without your minder — though dissidents say other security people follow you.

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Simon Says
4:48 am
Sat November 22, 2014

Remembering 'Comic Meteor' Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols was born Michael Igor Peschkowsky. He could barely speak English when he arrived in the U.S. at age 7.
Stephen Lovekin Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 22, 2014 2:24 pm

There are just a few words in the last four minutes of Mike Nichols' 1967 film, The Graduate.

"Elaine! Ben! It's too late! Not for me..."

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Simon Says
7:12 am
Sat November 15, 2014

Comet Lander, Firefighters Execute Dazzling Feats Above The Earth

Onlookers take cell phone pictures of stranded window washers hanging from scaffolding on the side of One World Trade Center.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 15, 2014 9:21 am

Everyone has days in which we wonder if much of anything works. Websites crash. Screens blink, go blank, or taunt: I'm sorry. Try later. We have an unusually high volume of calls. Download to update. Click here if you've forgotten your password.

But for a couple of hours on an afternoon this week, people got glimpses of excellence.

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Simon Says
7:42 am
Sat October 18, 2014

A Candidate With Low Poll Numbers, But High Hopes

Originally published on Sat October 18, 2014 2:46 pm

Dr. Doug Butzier died on duty this week. He was 59 and crashed in his own small plane flying home to Dubuque, Iowa.

Doug Butzier was a former paramedic who put himself through medical school and became chief of the emergency room and medical staff at Mercy Medical Center and the Dubuque Fire Department. An EMS supervisor named Wayne Dow told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, "We adored him ... He appreciated what we did, and he never forgot where he came from."

Dr. Butzier leaves behind his wife, two sons, and three step-children.

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Technology
6:46 am
Sat October 18, 2014

Robot Bees Could Assist With Tricky Rescue Operations

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 6:37 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

When you think about robots, if you do, you might think of famous images from science fiction, some kind of tin can built to vaguely resemble a human being.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: EPISODE 1 - THE PHANTOM MENACE")

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Simon Says
10:00 am
Sat October 4, 2014

A Stranger On A Train, A Phone Call, A Man's Life Transformed

iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat October 4, 2014 12:50 pm

Every now and then you can see a short story come to life right in front of you.

We were on a train this week while a man in a seat nearby spoke in a voice loud enough to carry above the whoosh of the rails to a man whose name we have changed to Phil, to tell him that the company had deliberated and decided they had to make "a transition" in his department.

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Around the Nation
9:16 am
Sat October 4, 2014

Atlantic City Falls From Glittering Resort To Bargain Basement

The Revel was one of four Atlantic City casinos to shut down this year.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 12:36 pm

The U.S. may have added jobs to its payroll last month, but the losses are still huge in Atlantic City, N.J., where four casinos have closed this year. A fifth teeters, and more than 7,000 people — dealers, greeters, cooks and maids — have been laid off.

The job losses could mean a future of boarded windows and abandoned buildings.

In the 1970s, Atlantic City had lost the glitter of its golden years — the 1940s and '50s, when it was a favored summer spot with a broad beach, the Boardwalk, pastel resort hotels and the home of the Miss America Pageant.

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Simon Says
8:52 am
Sat September 27, 2014

Banned Books Remind Us Of The Power Of The Written Word

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank regularly makes banned book lists, but not because it details the terror of hiding from Nazi occupiers.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Sat September 27, 2014 10:07 am

Here's an idea for weekend fun: Pick up a banned book.

Look for "the good parts" — the sections of Ulysses, The Grapes of Wrath, The Color Purple, Catch-22, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Lolita, the Harry Potter series, Animal Farm, A Farewell to Arms or In the Night Kitchen that have scenes and language that once made people gasp, blush or shudder. The parts that made them say, "We can't let people read this!"

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Simon Says
8:22 am
Sat September 20, 2014

A Man Who Knew The Value Of The Human Voice

Originally published on Sat September 20, 2014 10:16 am

A man known around here as "The Host Whisperer" has died.

David Candow was 74. He was a slightly tubby man from Newfoundland with a sly smile and a soft voice. I wanted nothing to do with him.

David was a consultant, brought in to work with NPR hosts and reporters on writing and delivery. People who make their living on the air often distrust consultants. We figure they've been brought in by executives who have usually never recorded more than a voicemail message, and want all hosts to sound the same.

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Simon Says
8:25 am
Sat September 6, 2014

Cruising Attitude: Recliner Rebellion Building In The Sky

On packed flights, space is at a premium and tempers sometimes flare.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat September 6, 2014 3:29 pm

There might be a recliner rebellion going on.

At least three flights have been grounded in little more than a week after passengers had disputes over reclining their seats, or not being able to. On most airlines these days, passengers are packed so close that — insert your favorite Joan Rivers joke here.

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Simon Says
7:08 am
Sat August 30, 2014

Syrian Artists Denied Visas, And A Voice In The U.S.

Syria: The Trojan Women inserts current events into an ancient Greek tragedy, performed here in Amman, Jordan, in 2013.
Lynn Alleva Lilley Lynn Alleva Lilley

Originally published on Sat August 30, 2014 11:31 pm

The Trojan Women, by Euripides, is a Greek tragedy written 2,500 years ago that war keeps timely.

It's about a group of women who struggle to survive in Troy after the town has been sacked. When one of the women cries out, "Our country, our conquered country, perishes ... O land that reared my children!" it's hard not to hear those words echo today, through Syria, in Iraq and in Ukraine.

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Simon Says
7:05 am
Sat August 16, 2014

Remembering The Highs And Lows Of Robin Williams

Actor Robin Williams, when he was Mork, in April 1978.
AP

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 1:37 pm

Why can't some of the people who seem to bring the most joy into this world find it for themselves?

The death of Robin Williams, by his own hand, in his own home, possibly after he learned he was in the early stages of Parkinson's, caused a lot of people to ask that question this week.

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Remembrances
9:33 am
Sat July 26, 2014

Bel Kaufman Took Us 'Up The Down Staircase'

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 12:32 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Simon Says
8:34 am
Sat June 21, 2014

Buried By Picasso, The Man Beneath 'The Blue Room' Tells A Story

Picasso's The Blue Room, painted in 1901, hung in the Phillips Collection for decades.
AP

Originally published on Sat June 21, 2014 1:45 pm

What's behind the man who is below The Blue Room?

This week, conservators at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., revealed that underneath Pablo Picasso's noted 1901 painting The Blue Room is another painting of a mustachioed man in a jacket and bow tie, resting his face on his hand.

Experts have long suspected something more must be below, as there were brushstrokes that didn't match the composition of the nude, bluish woman. Now, advanced infrared technology has revealed the man with the mustache, who also wears three rings on his fingers.

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Simon Says
7:19 am
Sat June 7, 2014

On The 70th Anniversary Of D-Day, A Look At What Could Have Been

On June 6, 1944, U.S. assault troops landed on Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy. What might be different today if they had been turned back?
Keystone/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 7, 2014 11:41 am

The men and women who brought down Adolph Hitler's war machine cannot defeat mortality. As the dwindling number of veterans who served during D-Day are saluted on the 70th anniversary, we might consider how different our lives might have been if those soldiers and sailors had been turned back from the beaches.

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Sports
6:54 am
Sat June 7, 2014

N.J. Nets, Devils Owner Gave Millions To Local Causes

Originally published on Sat June 7, 2014 11:41 am

We remember Lewis Katz, who once said, "Life is meant to have as much fun as you can conjure up." Katz made a fortune as a sports team owner and gave millions of it away.

Asia
6:46 am
Sat May 31, 2014

South Korea Repaves For A 'Woman-Friendly Seoul'

Originally published on Sat May 31, 2014 10:38 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Seoul, South Korea's making some changes to its urban landscape. The mayor's office says the women-friendly Seoul campaign will make the city more comfortable for women. They say a lot of urban design focused on men when they were the sole workers in a family and that's changed. So, they're installing pink painted parking spots reserved for women that are a bit wider and longer than the average spot and closer to elevators.

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Simon Says
4:39 am
Sat May 17, 2014

A School Lunch Denied Prompts Powerful Action In A World Of Words

Originally published on Sat May 17, 2014 10:29 am

If someone is outraged these days, they often blog about it, or post a tweet in righteous indignation. Parents urge children to use their words, and in the news business, we certainly believe in the power of words and information.

But you may wonder these days if some people confuse posting with taking action. Pretty or pungent rhetoric can grasp a few seconds of attention, then — just evaporate.

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Europe
6:59 am
Sat May 10, 2014

The Catchy Songs Of Eurovision Transcend Europe's Divided Politics

Originally published on Sat May 10, 2014 10:44 am

Eurovision: Love it, hate it, or have no idea what we're talking about? With tensions high in Ukraine, Russian performers are facing the music at the kitschy singing contest.

Around the Nation
6:42 am
Sat April 5, 2014

'Muse Of Painting' Came To Churchill's Rescue — And Bush's

Originally published on Sat April 5, 2014 10:18 am

Portraits of world leaders painted by former President George W. Bush go on exhibit in Dallas on Saturday. He took up the hobby after he read Winston Churchill's essay, "Painting as Pastime."

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