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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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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9:22am

Sat May 11, 2013
Simon Says

Mom's X-Ray Vision Also Sees The Best In Us

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 2:10 pm

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

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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11:52am

Sat April 20, 2013
Simon Says

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

Originally published on Sat April 20, 2013 1:57 pm

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

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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5:11am

Sat April 6, 2013
Simon Says

Roger Ebert: Elegance and Empathy

Originally published on Sun April 7, 2013 11:08 am

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

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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8:13am

Sat March 23, 2013
Commentary

Resurrected Frog Gives Us Cause To Brood

Originally published on Sat March 23, 2013 2:06 pm

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

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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8:16am

Sat March 9, 2013
Simon Says

Snowquester Fizzles, But We're Humbled Anyway

Originally published on Sat March 9, 2013 2:22 pm

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

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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8:11am

Sat March 2, 2013
Commentary

Pianist Van Cliburn, Warmed Russian Hearts During Cold War

Originally published on Sat March 2, 2013 6:35 pm

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

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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5:20am

Sat February 16, 2013
Simon Says

Is Honest Abe's Stovepipe Hat A Fake?

Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 10:06 am

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

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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5:12am

Sat February 2, 2013
Simon Says

History Sometimes Rewards Those Who Are Sidelined

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 5:26 am

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

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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5:28am

Sat January 26, 2013
Simon Says

'Ebony' Editor Began Life Black In Nazi Germany

Originally published on Sat January 26, 2013 5:36 pm

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

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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10:29am

Sat January 12, 2013
Simon Says

Cheating Might Buy Home Runs, But No Hall Of Fame

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 1:23 pm

The Baseball Hall of Fame is a tourist attraction, not a papal conclave. And the people who cast votes for the Hall are sportswriters, not the College of Cardinals.

But there was something momentous this week when the Baseball Writers Association elected no one to the Hall of Fame. Not Roger Clemens, who won a record seven Cy Young Awards. Not Barry Bonds, who hit a record 762 home runs. Not Sammy Sosa, who hit 60 or more home runs in a season three times.

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8:31am

Sat January 12, 2013
Simon Says

Baseball Hall Of Fame Snub Draws The Line

Originally published on Sat January 12, 2013 9:22 am

There was something momentous this week when the Baseball Writers Association elected no one to the Hall of Fame. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon remarks on the rebuke, rare in a sport where bad behavior is routine.

9:44am

Sat December 22, 2012
Commentary

The Mayan Apocalypse: Worthwhile, In Hindsight

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 11:40 am

Visitors at the Chichen Itza archaeological park in Yucatan state, Mexico, celebrate the end of the Mayan calendar cycle. Even a failed apocalypse has value, in reminding us that life is fragile and unpredictable.
Pedro Pardo AFP/Getty Images

Yesterday came and went, but I never finished Ulysses. I never took up skydiving. Come to think of it, I didn't even really finish cleaning up my closet before the "Mayan Apocalypse," which did not occur yesterday, Dec. 21.

I remember thinking,"Finally, I get a Friday off — but there's an apocalypse."

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6:47am

Sat December 8, 2012
Simon Says

Good Intentions, Complicated Results

Originally published on Sat December 8, 2012 3:57 pm

The photo that touched many hearts: New York City Police Officer Lawrence DePrimo gives a shoeless man a pair of boots on a frigid night last month.
Jennifer Foster NYPD via Facebook

When news organizations, including ours, told of New York Police Officer Lawrence DePrimo buying boots for a barefoot man on the streets of Times Square one cold night last month, it seemed an irresistible holiday story: A kindly cop in a hard city helps a bedraggled man walking with blistered feet over some of the richest streets in the world.

The nameless, shoeless man became the best-known street person in America — just long enough to be recognized walking along the Upper West Side, where a New York Times reporter found him.

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10:41am

Sat December 1, 2012
Simon Says

Sexiest Man Alive Gets 'The Onion' Taken Seriously

Originally published on Sat December 1, 2012 11:09 am

The satirical news source The Onion named North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un 2012's Sexiest Man Alive.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

If satire had an Olympics, The Onion might have won a gold medal this week. The satirical news source announced that its Sexiest Man Alive for 2012 is Kim Jong Un, North Korea's Supreme Leader.

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5:27am

Sat November 24, 2012
Simon Says

Jesse Jackson Jr.: Great Hopes And Disappointments

Originally published on Sat November 24, 2012 2:27 pm

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. speaks to constituents in Chicago in 2009. Jackson resigned from Congress on Wednesday, following a hospitalization and an investigation into misuse of campaign funds.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Jesse Jackson Jr. has a famous name and fabulous contacts, and had what looked like boundless prospects when he was first on the national stage at the Democratic National Convention in 1988.

John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy had appeared to talk about the legacy of their late father, the president. But a few nights later, Jackson took the podium to present his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and said, "My name is Jesse Louis Jackson Jr., and I also proudly carry a great American name."

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10:35am

Sat November 10, 2012
Simon Says

Making A Case For Closer Contact In Congress

Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 2:32 pm

From left, Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) await President Obama's State of the Union address in January 2011, when a bipartisan seating arrangement symbolically suggested a more cooperative spirit among lawmakers.
Brendan Smialowski Getty Images

Gridlock is the term many use to describe what happens when legislation gets stalled in the U.S. Congress.

But gridlock suggests that people in Congress at least run into each other. I've had enough casual, personal conversations with representatives in both parties in recent years to begin to think a more critical problem might be that politicians of opposing parties are almost strangers to each other.

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7:55am

Sat November 3, 2012
Simon Says

Emergency Workers Heroes Even Before Sandy

Originally published on Sat November 3, 2012 4:23 pm

First responders rescue flood-stranded people from a sodden neighborhood in Little Ferry, N.J., on Tuesday.
Craig Ruttle AP

On Halloween night this week, millions of children tumbled into their neighborhoods dressed as Captain America, Spiderman, Batman, Bat Girl and Wonder Woman. But that night, true superheroes were at work in uniforms, not costumes.

They were firefighters, police officers, emergency workers and ordinary citizens in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and elsewhere who gave brave and extraordinary efforts to protect and rescue their families and neighbors. They risked their lives for strangers.

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7:55am

Sat November 3, 2012
NPR Story

The Political Middle: What Ohioans Have To Say

Originally published on Sat November 3, 2012 10:48 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's already starting to rain over northern Ohio this past weekend as the outer whirls of Hurricane Sandy approached. Just a few days before the election, people in Reminderville, the village of about 3,000, were concerned about turnout.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Trick or treat.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Trick or treat.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Hey, what's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Hi.

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8:44am

Sat October 13, 2012
Simon Says

The Pirate Prince Of Sealand, Remembered

Originally published on Sat October 13, 2012 12:58 pm

British pirate radio broadcaster Paddy Roy Bates with his wife, Joan, and daughter, Penny, in 1966.
Evening Standard Getty Images

Paddy Roy Bates, the self-proclaimed prince of Sealand, was almost 80 when I met him in the summer of 2000. He was silvery and straight-backed — very much the model of a modern major, which he was in the British Army during World War II, when he survived frostbite, malaria, snakebites and a German bomb that shattered his jaw so badly a surgeon told him no woman would ever love him. So he married a former beauty queen named Joan and made her the princess of Sealand.

Let me explain.

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8:05am

Sat October 6, 2012
Simon Says

Does Voting Early Prompt Hasty Choices?

Originally published on Sat October 6, 2012 7:55 pm

Voters cast their ballots during early voting in Bowling Green, Ohio. Early voting began Oct. 2 in the battleground state, five weeks before Election Day on November 6.
J.D. Pooley Getty Images

Nov. 6 is 32 days away, but for millions of Americans, there is no longer an Election Day.

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia now have early voting, which is under way even now in eight states. Hundreds of thousands of votes have already been cast, most before this week's presidential debates or Friday's jobs report, and all ahead of the three future debates and any unforeseen October event that might test the mettle of a candidate.

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7:43am

Sat September 29, 2012
Simon Says

Jimmy Hoffa: Still Searching. Still Waiting.

Originally published on Wed October 3, 2012 4:28 pm

James Hoffa was last seen in the parking lot of a Detroit restaurant in 1975
CT AP

Police outside Detroit dug up a spot under a driveway yesterday and took some soil samples. No official findings have been announced.

An unidentified man recently told police he saw a guy bury something there in the summer of 1975 shortly after Jimmy Hoffa disappeared, and after he was supposed to have lunch with Tony Provenzano, a Teamster officer, and Tony Jack Giacalone, a Detroit mobster, at the Machus Red Fox restaurant.

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10:35am

Sat September 22, 2012
Simon Says

The Emoticon Turns 30, Seems Happy About It :-)

Originally published on Sat September 22, 2012 11:33 am

The emoticon turns 30 this week.
iStockphoto.com

The emoticon, punctuation to depict a facial expression, began 30 years ago this week. Using three keystrokes, the colon, dash and parenthesis, to suggest a smile may not be a great scientific advance, like the coronary stent or computer chip. But the emoticon has been simple, useful and enduring.

There had been previous hints of emoticons. A newspaper transcript of Abraham Lincoln drawing a laugh in 1862 follows it with a semi-colon and parentheses, but that may have simply been a printer's typo.

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5:58pm

Fri August 31, 2012
Simon Says

Without A Career, How Do We Know Who We Are?

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 3:31 pm

Are we what we do?

A lot of Americans identify themselves by their work. It's often how we introduce ourselves or describe our friends and parents: "I'm a police officer." "I'm a spot-welder." "My dad was a druggist." "My mom was a teacher." "My wife is a pilot." "My friend is a firefighter." "I sell insurance."

Our work has been a kind of identity stamp, defining us as much as our last name or place of birth. As Studs Terkel wrote in his 1974 classic, Working, "Our jobs give us daily meaning as well as daily bread."

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6:31am

Sat August 18, 2012
Simon Says

If Politicians Went On Vacation, We'd All Get A Break

Originally published on Sat August 18, 2012 9:58 am

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan holds up a Green Bay Packers jersey during a campaign stop at the Iowa State Fair.
Steve Pope Getty Images

If you toss a corn dog at a state or county fair this summer, you may bonk a politician.

Congress is in recess, but for politicians, it's not recess of the kind they have in grade school. Many pols, especially in a close election year, spend the summer shaking hands at meet-and-greets. They cock their heads to pay rapt attention during listening tours and community meetings, raise money, make speeches, hurl charges, countercharges and ask for votes.

Does that sound refreshing?

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6:21am

Sat July 28, 2012
Around the Nation

Gang Violence Smolders On Hot Chicago Streets

Originally published on Sat July 28, 2012 6:12 pm

The Chicago police gang enforcement unit makes an arrest after stopping a car with four suspected gang members in June.
Robert Ray AP

This has been a summer of blood, sweat and tears in Chicago. The city has been scorched by historic heat, and the homicide rate has soared. When the sun goes down behind the glimmering lakeshore skyline, blocks on the South and West Side of the city can ring with shots and sirens.

The streets of neighborhoods like Englewood, Grand Crossing and Garfield Park are empty, even during the day. In the middle of this summer, it is rare to see a child ride a bike or walk a dog.

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8:09am

Sat June 23, 2012
Simon Says

Behind The 'Model Minority,' An American Struggle

Originally published on Sat June 23, 2012 1:43 pm

A Pew Research Center study shows Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing immigrant group in the U.S., but that doesn't make theirs a success story.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

The Pew Research Center says Asian-Americans are now the fastest-growing ethnic and immigrant group in the United States: 18 million Americans, almost 6 percent of the population. Pew says Asian-Americans also tend to be the most educated and prosperous.

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