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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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
8:17 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
7:14 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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Around the Nation
6:52 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."

Simon Says
7:09 am
Sat March 29, 2014

A Bill To Distill Simmers In Tennessee

What legally makes whiskey taste like Tennessee?
Piotr Wawryniuk iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat March 29, 2014 10:27 am

Would Tennessee whiskey by any other name taste as sweet?

A debate in Tennessee simmers over a legal definition of what makes Tennessee whiskey "Tennessee."

The state legislature passed a bill last year saying whiskey can be labeled "Tennessee" only if it's made in the state from a mash that's 51-percent corn, trickles through maple charcoal, and is aged in new, charred oak barrels.

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Simon Says
6:50 am
Sat March 22, 2014

A Tatar's Death Chills Those Who Suffered Under Russia Before

Crimean Tatars carry the body of Reshat Ametov during his funeral outside the town of Simferopol on Tuesday.
Vasily Fedosenko Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Sat March 22, 2014 10:18 am

Amid all the of necessary analysis of what Russia's move into Crimea means geopolitically and strategically, it might also be good to remember Reshat Ametov.

Mr. Ametov was buried this week. He was 39 years old, married and the father of three young children.

He was last seen at a demonstration on March 3 in Simferopol, where he joined other Crimean Tatars held a silent protest before the pro-Russian armed men in unmarked uniforms who surrounded the cabinet ministers building.

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Simon Says
8:58 am
Sat February 22, 2014

Ukrainian Olympic Skier's Stand Is A Sacrifice For Her Country

Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska decided not to compete in Friday's slalom race, in a show of solidarity with protesters in Kiev.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 22, 2014 12:06 pm

Sports are supposed to be separate from politics, but athletes and games can't always be kept separate from life and death.

Scores of people were killed in Ukraine this week, as the security forces of President Viktor Yanukovich opened fire on anti-government protesters in Kiev's Maidan, now called Independence Square.

While some 800 miles away, more than 40 Ukrainian athletes have been skiing, skating, working hard to win medals at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

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Around the Nation
7:03 am
Sat February 22, 2014

Girl Scout Sells Cookies Outside Medical Marijuana Clinic

Originally published on Sat February 22, 2014 12:06 pm

Girl Scout cookies are never that hard to sell, but this week, one 13-year-old San Franciscan may have outsmarted the competition altogether.

Simon Says
9:34 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Shirley Temple's Films Still Charm After All These Years

Shirley Temple started performing in films when she was just 3 years old.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 9:47 pm

Shirley Temple really could be as effervescent as a jolt of ginger ale and as cheery as a maraschino cherry in the kid's cocktail that is still ordered by her name. When Shirley Temple Black, the name she used after her marriage to Charles Black, laughed — and she liked to laugh — tears came to her eyes.

She told us how once she'd been called to jury duty, and learned the case involved erotic bondage.

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Opinion
10:20 am
Sat February 8, 2014

Forego The Faux Snow: The Games Could Use A Permanent Home

China's National Stadium, right, and National Aquatics Center, cost half a billion dollars to build and struggle to attract visitors.
Greg Baker AP

Originally published on Sat February 8, 2014 1:43 pm

The Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, are certifiably the most expensive and allegedly staggeringly corrupt.

Upwards of $50 billion has been spent to turn a place that's been best known as a Black Sea beach resort, where rich Russians could warm themselves under palm trees during long Moscow winters, into a winter sports capital with ski slopes and bobsled runs.

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Simon Says
9:03 am
Sat February 1, 2014

Opera Star Renee Fleming Brings Grace To The Super Bowl

Opera singer Renee Fleming will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" live on Sunday night.
Larry Busacca Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 11:00 pm

Who knows who'll win the Super Bowl tomorrow, but history will be made before the coin toss.

Renee Fleming will sing the national anthem at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. She is the first opera star to be asked, and it seems so utterly fitting, both for the first Super Bowl to be played within view of the towers of New York, and in the 200th anniversary year of the national anthem.

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Simon Says
9:10 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Rodman's Tour Of North Korea: Diplomacy Or Propaganda?

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman leaves a sports arena after a practice session for North Korean basketball players in Pyongyang in December 2013.
David Guttenfelder AP

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 11:53 am

There's been a publicity circus trailing Dennis Rodman to North Korea to present a big, bouncing birthday present of a basketball game to Kim Jong Un. But did you see the score of the game?

The U.S. team of former NBA players lost the first half, 47 to 39, before the sides were combined.

Well, if you play a team sponsored by a ruthless leader who recently had his own uncle iced, losing is probably the smart move.

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Simon Says
5:12 am
Sat December 7, 2013

As We Memorialize Mandela, Remember Those Who Stood With Him

Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu raise their fists in 1990, one day after Mandela was released from jail.
Walter Dhladhla AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 2:36 pm

By the time he died this week, Nelson Mandela was considered one of the few — perhaps the only — giants on the world stage.

But the man who was prisoner 466/64 on Robben Island was a giant among heroes who offered their lives for freedom as valiantly as he did. In a way, the acclaim the world now heaps so justly on Nelson Mandela commemorates them, too.

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Simon Says
7:07 am
Sat October 26, 2013

Modern Love Is More About Algorithms Than 'Witchcraft'

The Pew Internet and American Life Project survey also found 23 percent of online daters found a spouse or long-term partner that way.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat October 26, 2013 10:28 am

The Pew Research Center issued a report this week with findings that may sound unremarkable, but have implications to alter not just how we live, but what we dream, fantasize, gossip and sing about.

Online dating has become commonplace.

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Simon Says
4:33 am
Sat September 7, 2013

When Weighing Intervention In Syria, Consider The Children

Leo del Aguila (from left), Vesa Gashi, Scott Simon, Erblin Mehmetaj and Shawn Fox in 1999 in a housing complex in Pristina. Del Aguila, Simon and Fox were covering the Kosovo conflict for NPR; the children lived in the war-stricken area.
Courtesy of Erblin Mehmetaj

Originally published on Sat September 7, 2013 12:01 pm

I was in a grocery store one night this week when a sturdy young man approached with a smile.

"Do you remember me?" he asked. "Bini."

Bini — Erblin Mehmataj — was a bony-shouldered 9-year-old boy with a full, toothy grin who lived in an Albanian Muslim housing complex in Pristina, where we stayed to cover the war in Kosovo in 1999.

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Simon Says
4:27 am
Sat August 24, 2013

Remembering Elmore Leonard, A Writer Who Hated Literature

Many of Elmore Leonard's stories have been adapted for the screen, from the movie Get Shorty to the TV show, Justified.
Vince Bucci Getty Images

Originally published on Sat August 24, 2013 10:39 am

Elmore Leonard was a writer who hated — and I don't mean disliked; Elmore had a contempt for putting pretty clothes on hard, direct words, so I mean hated — literature, or at least what he believed a lot of people mean when they say liter-a-ture, as if it were a Members Only club.

Elmore Leonard wrote for a living, from the time in his 20s when he turned out ads for Detroit department stores and vacuum cleaners during the day, and wrote cowboy and crime stories for pulp magazines at night.

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Simon Says
4:47 am
Sat July 13, 2013

Retire The Phrase, 'This Wouldn't Be A Scandal In Europe'

Reporters swarm around former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer as he attempts to collect signatures for his run for New York City comptroller.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 12:22 pm

I hope we've heard the last of people saying, "This would never be a scandal in Europe." They usually mean "sex scandal," and by now I think Americans are entitled to boast that we've become as blase about politicians with their pants down — or, in the case of Anthony Weiner, pec-flexing with his shirt off — as Europeans like to think they are.

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Middle East
5:39 am
Sat June 1, 2013

Peaceful Protest Over Istanbul Park Turns Violent

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 6:55 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is Weekend Edition from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon.

(SOUNDBITE OF RIOTING)

SIMON: Turkish riot police fired tear gas and water cannons on demonstrators in downtown Istanbul during a second day of protests. The clashes were triggered by the government's plan to build a shopping mall in a downtown park. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called for an immediate end to the protest. NPR's Peter Kenyon joins us from Istanbul. Peter, thanks for being with us.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Hi, Scott.

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Simon Says
4:29 am
Sat June 1, 2013

High School Newspapers: An Endangered Species

Student newspapers may be the latest victims of social media.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 1, 2013 1:49 pm

Does your local high school have a student newspaper? And in this day when a social media message saying, "Tonight's Green Design and Technology class homework sucks!" can instantly be sent to thousands, does it need to?

The New York Times reports this week that only 1 in 8 of New York's public high schools has a student newspaper — and many of those are published just a few times a year. A few more are online, which can leave out poorer schools.

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Simon Says
7:54 am
Sat May 11, 2013

The X-ray Vision Of Mothers

Mothers somehow know when we've been bad, but when times are tough, they also have our back.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 1:10 pm

Mothers have eyes in the back of their heads. They may not show up on X-rays, but they're there.

Like a lot of youngsters, I used to get my mother to turn her head so I could search through her hair for the eyeballs she claimed to have back there, telling her, "No you don't! No you don't!" But when I'd scamper off to another part of the apartment and pick up an ashtray or fiddle with the window blinds, I'd hear my mother's voice ring out, "I can see you! I know what you're up to!"

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Simon Says
10:08 am
Sat April 20, 2013

A 'Tough, Smart, Proud Town' Meets Terror With Determination

Boston residents celebrated Friday night after law enforcement officers captured one of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat April 20, 2013 12:57 pm

People in Boston can speak for themselves. And do. Loudly, bluntly and often with humor that bites.

It's a city that speaks with both its own broad, homebrew, local accent — although no one really pahks thea cah in Havahd Yahd — and dialects from around the world. It is home to some of America's oldest founding families, and fathers, mothers and children who have just arrived from Jamaica, Ireland, Bangladesh and Ghana.

There are people in Boston who dress in pinstripes and tweeds, and tattoos and spiked hair. Sometimes, they are even the same person.

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Simon Says
4:11 am
Sat April 6, 2013

Roger Ebert: Elegance and Empathy

The iconic Chicago photographer Art Shay took portraits of presidents, prizefighters, prose poets — and in the person of Roger Ebert, at least one Pulitzer-winning critic.
Art Shay

Originally published on Sun April 7, 2013 10:08 am

Roger Ebert was a critic, not a blowtorch. He could be sharp if he thought a movie insulted the audience, but had a champ's disdain for a cheap shot.

Many critics ridiculed the film Deep Throat when it came out in 1973. Who couldn't mock its absurdities? Roger just wrote, "If you have to work this hard at sexual freedom, maybe it isn't worth the effort."

Roger Ebert was a Chicago newspaperman who typed with two fingers — it sounded like a machine gun, columnist Bob Greene remembered on Friday — who was from the age when reporters were fueled by ink and booze.

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Commentary
7:13 am
Sat March 23, 2013

Resurrected Frog Gives Us Cause To Brood

This week scientists announced they have reproduced the genome of an extinct amphibian, the gastric brooding frog.
Auscape/UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 23, 2013 1:06 pm

The gastric brooding frog may be coming back. Does that give us a lot to brood about, too?

This week scientists at the University of New South Wales' Lazarus Project announced they have reproduced the genome — that bit of biological material that carries our genetic structure — of a gastric brooding frog.

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Simon Says
7:18 am
Sat March 9, 2013

Snowquester Fizzles, But We're Humbled Anyway

The failed Snowquester reminds us, during a time of national debate, that experts can still be wrong.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 9, 2013 1:22 pm

Snowquester fizzled.

Wednesday was more or less canceled this week in official Washington, D.C. An enormous winter storm bore down on the region, threatening ice, a foot of snow in the city (more in the suburbs), and wind and misery throughout the region.

Most of the federal government was closed. I know, I know. How could they tell? Local governments and schools, too. Flights were canceled, planes diverted, and throngs descended on grocery stores, picking the shelves clean of bread, milk and toilet tissue.

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Commentary
7:11 am
Sat March 2, 2013

Pianist Van Cliburn, Warmed Russian Hearts During Cold War

Van Cliburn accepts flowers from the audience in the Moscow Conservatory in April 1958, after a performance during the first International Tchaikovsky Competition, which he won.
Courtesy Van Cliburn Foundation AP

Originally published on Sat March 2, 2013 5:35 pm

Van Cliburn thawed out the Cold War.

He went to Moscow in 1958 for the first International Tchaikovsky Competition. When he sat down to play, Russians saw a tall, 23-year-old Texan, rail thin and tousle-haired, with great, gangly fingers that grew evocative and eloquent when he played the music of the true Russian masters — Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and Borodin.

Cliburn died Wednesday at his home in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 78.

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Simon Says
4:20 am
Sat February 16, 2013

Is Honest Abe's Stovepipe Hat A Fake?

Abraham Lincoln's iconic stovepipe hat is on display at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 9:06 am

Abraham Lincoln's black stovepipe hat is an icon. It seemed to enhance his height, emphasize his dignity and, I suppose, keep his head warm.

There is a stovepipe hat at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., soiled and slightly brown with age. Lincoln is said to have given it to William Waller, a farmer and political supporter in Jackson County, Ill., and kept by his family for decades.

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Simon Says
4:12 am
Sat February 2, 2013

History Sometimes Rewards Those Who Are Sidelined

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith looks on from the sidelines during the overtime period against the New York Giants on Jan. 22, 2012, in San Francisco.
G. Newman Lowrance AP

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 4:26 am

You might look for a player along the sidelines in the Super Bowl on Sunday named Alex Smith and wonder, as he might, if he'll be the next Wally Pipp or Ken Mattingly.

Pipp was the Yankee first baseman in 1925 who had a headache and was told to take two aspirin and sit out the game. A young player named Lou Gehrig took his place — and stayed at first base for 14 years, becoming one of baseball's most storied players.

Pipp wound up working in a screw factory. He was a good sport who told fans in later years, "I took the two most expensive aspirin in history."

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Simon Says
4:28 am
Sat January 26, 2013

'Ebony' Editor Began Life Black In Nazi Germany

Hans Massaquoi told his story in Destined to Witness: Growing up Black in Nazi Germany. The former managing editor of Ebony magazine died on his 87th birthday last Saturday.
Matthew P. D'Agostino AP

Originally published on Sat January 26, 2013 4:36 pm

The proudest moment of Hans Massaquoi's boyhood was when his babysitter sewed a swastika on his sweater. He was a 7-year-old boy in Hamburg who wanted to be part of the excitement of the times he saw. But when his mother got home, she snipped off the swastika.

He also wanted to join the Hitler Youth. "They had cool uniforms," Massaquoi wrote years later, "and they did exciting things — camping, parades, playing drums."

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