Scott Simon

From Ground Zero in New York to ground zero in Kabul, to police stations, subway platforms, and darkened theaters, NPR's Peabody-Award-winning correspondent Scott Simon brings a well-traveled perspective to his role as host of Weekend Edition Saturday.

Simon joined NPR in 1977 as chief of its Chicago bureau. Since then, he has reported from all 50 states, covered presidential campaigns and eight wars, and reported from Central America, Africa, India, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. In 2002, Simon took leave of his usual post at Weekend Edition Saturday to cover the war in Afghanistan for NPR. He has also reported from Central America on the continuing wars in that region; from Cuba on the nation's resistance to change; from Ethiopia on the country's famine and prolonged civil war; from the Middle East during the Gulf War; and from the siege of Sarajevo and the destruction of Kosovo.

Simon has received numerous honors for his reporting. His work was part of the Overseas Press Club and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards NPR earned for coverage of Sept. 11 and its aftermath. He was part of the NPR news teams that won prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for covering the war in Kosovo as well as the Gulf War. In 1989, he won a George Foster Peabody Award for his weekly radio essays. The award commended him for his sensitivity and literary style in coverage of events including the murder of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador and the San Francisco earthquake. Simon also accepted the Presidential End Hunger Award for his series of reports on the 1987-1988 Ethiopian civil war and drought. He received a 1986 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for his coverage of racism in a South Philadelphia neighborhood, and a 1986 Silver Cindy for a report on conditions at the Immigration and Naturalization Service's detention center in Harlingen, Texas.

Simon received a Major Armstrong Award in 1979 for his coverage of the American Nazi Party rally in Chicago, and a Unity Award in Media in 1978 for his political reporting on All Things Considered. He also won a 1982 Emmy for the public television documentary The Patterson Project, which examined the effects of President Reagan's budget cuts on the lives of 12 New Jersey residents.

Simon has been a frequent guest host of the CBS television program Nightwatch and CNBC's TalkBack Live. In addition to hosting Weekend Edition Saturday, Simon has appeared as an essayist and commentator on NBC's Weekend Today and NOW with Bill Moyers. He has hosted many public television programs, including "Voices of Vision," "Life on the Internet," "State of Mind," "American Pie," "Search for Common Ground," and specials on privacy in America and democracy in the Middle East. He also narrated the documentary film "Lincoln of Illinois" for PBS. Simon participated in the Grammy Award-nominated 50th anniversary remake of The War of the Worlds (co-starring Jason Robards), and hosted public television's coverage of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Simon has hosted the BBC series Eyewitness, which was seen in the United States on the Discovery Channel, and a BBC special on the White House press corps. Simon was also a featured co-anchor of PBS's millennium special broadcast in 2000.

Simon has written for The New York Times' Book Review and Opinion sections, the Wall Street Journal opinion page, the Los Angeles Times, and Gourmet Magazine.

The son of comedian Ernie Simon and actress Patricia Lyons, Simon grew up in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Montreal, Cleveland, and Washington, DC. He attended the University of Chicago and McGill University, and he has received a number of honorary degrees.

Simon's book Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan was published in the spring of 2000 by Hyperion, a division of Disney. It topped the Los Angeles Times nonfiction bestseller list for several weeks, and was cited as one of the best books of the year in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and several other publications. His second book, Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, kicked off the prestigious Wiley Turning Points series in September of 2002, and was the Barnes & Noble "Sports Book of the Year." Simon's first novel, Pretty Birds, about female teenaged snipers in Sarajevo, was released in May 2005 and acclaimed as "the start of a brilliant new career." His most recent novel, a political comedy called Windy City, was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the best novels of 2008.

Simon is married to Caroline Richard. They have two daughters, Elise and Lina. His hobbies include Mexican cooking, ballet, book collecting, and living and dying for the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Bulls (and now, as a token of affection for his wife, the French national soccer team).

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11:35am

Sat December 20, 2014
Simon Says

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

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 11:39 am

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

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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8:12am

Sat November 15, 2014
Simon Says

Comet Lander, Firefighters Execute Dazzling Feats Above The Earth

Originally published on Sat November 15, 2014 10:21 am

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

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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8:42am

Sat October 18, 2014
Simon Says

A Candidate With Low Poll Numbers, But High Hopes

Originally published on Sat October 18, 2014 3:46 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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7:46am

Sat October 18, 2014
Technology

Robot Bees Could Assist With Tricky Rescue Operations

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 7:37 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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10:51am

Sat October 4, 2014
Simon Says

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

Originally published on Sat October 4, 2014 1:50 pm

iStockphoto

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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10:15am

Sat October 4, 2014
Around the Nation

Atlantic City Falls From Glittering Resort To Bargain Basement

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 1:36 pm

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

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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9:52am

Sat September 27, 2014
Simon Says

Banned Books Remind Us Of The Power Of The Written Word

Originally published on Sat September 27, 2014 11:07 am

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

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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9:22am

Sat September 20, 2014
Simon Says

A Man Who Knew The Value Of The Human Voice

Originally published on Sat September 20, 2014 11:16 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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9:25am

Sat September 6, 2014
Simon Says

Cruising Attitude: Recliner Rebellion Building In The Sky

Originally published on Sat September 6, 2014 4:29 pm

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

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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8:05am

Sat August 16, 2014
Simon Says

Remembering The Highs And Lows Of Robin Williams

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 2:37 pm

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

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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10:33am

Sat July 26, 2014
Remembrances

Bel Kaufman Took Us 'Up The Down Staircase'

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 1:32 pm

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

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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9:31am

Sat June 21, 2014
Simon Says

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

Originally published on Sat June 21, 2014 2:45 pm

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

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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8:19am

Sat June 7, 2014
Simon Says

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

Originally published on Sat June 7, 2014 12:41 pm

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

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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7:54am

Sat June 7, 2014
Sports

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

Originally published on Sat June 7, 2014 12:41 pm

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.

7:46am

Sat May 31, 2014
Asia

South Korea Repaves For A 'Woman-Friendly Seoul'

Originally published on Sat May 31, 2014 11:38 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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7:52am

Sat April 5, 2014
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Sat April 5, 2014 11:18 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."

8:09am

Sat March 29, 2014
Simon Says

A Bill To Distill Simmers In Tennessee

Originally published on Sat March 29, 2014 11:27 am

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

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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7:50am

Sat March 22, 2014
Simon Says

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

Originally published on Sat March 22, 2014 11:18 am

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

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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9:58am

Sat February 22, 2014
Simon Says

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

Originally published on Sat February 22, 2014 1:06 pm

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

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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8:03am

Sat February 22, 2014
Around the Nation

Girl Scout Sells Cookies Outside Medical Marijuana Clinic

Originally published on Sat February 22, 2014 1:06 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.

10:34am

Sat February 15, 2014
Simon Says

Shirley Temple's Films Still Charm After All These Years

Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 10:47 pm

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

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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10:47am

Sat February 8, 2014
Opinion

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

Originally published on Sat February 8, 2014 2:43 pm

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

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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10:03am

Sat February 1, 2014
Simon Says

Opera Star Renee Fleming Brings Grace To The Super Bowl

Originally published on Sun February 2, 2014 12:00 am

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

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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10:10am

Sat January 11, 2014
Simon Says

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

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 12:53 pm

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

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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6:12am

Sat December 7, 2013
Simon Says

As We Memorialize Mandela, Remember Those Who Stood With Him

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 3:36 pm

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

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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5:33am

Sat September 7, 2013
Simon Says

When Weighing Intervention In Syria, Consider The Children

Originally published on Sat September 7, 2013 1:01 pm

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

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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5:27am

Sat August 24, 2013
Simon Says

Remembering Elmore Leonard, A Writer Who Hated Literature

Originally published on Sat August 24, 2013 11:39 am

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

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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5:47am

Sat July 13, 2013
Simon Says

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

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 1:22 pm

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

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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6:39am

Sat June 1, 2013
Middle East

Peaceful Protest Over Istanbul Park Turns Violent

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 7:55 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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5:29am

Sat June 1, 2013
Simon Says

High School Newspapers: An Endangered Species

Originally published on Sat June 1, 2013 2:49 pm

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

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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