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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6:55am

Sat January 7, 2012
Opinion

Iowa, New Hampshire: Small States With Big Roles

Iowa and New Hampshire are not demographic snapshots of America. They are smaller, less diverse and more rural than California, New York or Illinois, which have a lot more votes.

But Iowa and New Hampshire win a lot of attention early in an election year. As an old political columnist, now departed, once told me over the din of clinking cups in an Iowa diner, "If the first presidential caucuses were in Hawaii, congress would give federal subsidies to make gasoline out of pineapples."

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8:00am

Sat December 24, 2011
Simon Says

How Much Is That Purple Heart In The Window?

Originally published on Sat December 24, 2011 8:38 am

There's a Purple Heart in the window of the A-Z Outlet pawnshop in Holland, Mich., right between a silver necklace and an inexpensive watch.

Bryan VandenBosch says a young man walked into his shop just before Thanksgiving to pawn a medal that the U.S. government awards to soldiers who have been "wounded or killed in any action" while serving.

He says that he doesn't know why the young man needed or wanted to pawn his medal.

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7:36am

Sat December 17, 2011
Simon Says

Christopher Hitchens And The Delight Of Defying Labels

It may be telling that Christopher Hitchens should die in this season. I don't mean the holiday season but a contentious season in Congress and on the campaign trail, with politicians jabbing fingers and accusing each other of inconsistency.

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10:09am

Sat December 10, 2011
Simon Says

Laura Nyro's Lasting, Eclectic Musical Legacy

Laura Nyro performs at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Most of the names announced for induction to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame this week are familiar: Guns N' Roses, Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The name Laura Nyro may need some explaining.

She was the daughter of a New York jazz trumpeter, who took her along to his gigs. She sold her first song, And When I Die, to Peter, Paul and Mary for $5,000 when she was just a teenager; left New York's School of Music and Art; and became a star at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival at the age of 20.

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7:33am

Sat December 3, 2011
Simon Says

What's In a (Baby) Name?

So many end-of-the year lists detail something trivial. But sometimes those lists can help us appreciate something obvious.

BabyCenter.com has just released their list of the most popular names for American babies in 2011.

The most popular girl's names: Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia, and Ava, which sound like they could be lifted, letter by letter, from 1960s movie marquees. The most popular boy's names: Aiden, Jackson, Mason, Liam and Jacob, which could be the name of a Boston or Chicago law firm.

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8:00am

Sat November 26, 2011
Remembrances

Tom Wicker Dies, Top Reporter Covered JFK Assassination

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

As a young reporter, Tom Wicker covered a beaver dam for the Sandhill, North Carolina Citizen. He went on to travel the world as a White House reporter and columnist for the New York Times and was in Dallas on November 22nd, 48 years ago this week when John F. Kennedy was shot. It was in a world before cell phones and text messages.

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8:00am

Sat November 26, 2011
Simon Says

What Black Friday Crowds Are Really Shopping For

Originally published on Sat November 26, 2011 5:17 pm

A holiday shopper at the Toys R Us in New York's Times Square.
Andrew Burton AP

It's hard not to look at some of the pictures of people surging into stores as they opened at the stroke of midnight for Black Friday sales and see some kind of crass, mindless mob.

The crowds in Cairo's Tahir Square clamor for democracy and free speech. Crowds in American shopping malls seem to clamor for Blu-rays, Xboxes and Wii consoles.

There were even a few reported instances of violence Friday among unruly shoppers, hell-bent for bargains.

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8:00am

Sat November 5, 2011
Simon Says

America's Stake In A United Europe

President Obama salutes service members from both sides of the Atlantic as he walks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy during the G-20 summit in Cannes, France, last week.
Markus Schreiber AFP/Getty Images

It is always tempting for Americans to look at problems in Europe and ask, "What does that have to do with me?"

Well, U.S. banks hold almost $17 billion in Greek debt and billions more bought through European banks. Billions of dollars that Americans have saved for retirement, college — or the rainy days that may be — are now invested in Greece.

But we also might remind ourselves why the euro and the European Union were created.

The problems of Europe led to two world wars in the 20th century, and America got involved in each.

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8:00am

Sat October 22, 2011
Simon Says

It's A Girl! The New iPhone Speaks

Siri's answer to the meaning of life is actually kind of impressive.

Oli Scarff Getty Images

Why is Siri female?

Siri is the name of a new talking virtual assistant feature on the latest iPhone that can tell you when you have an appointment, where to find a Thai restaurant and what the pollen count will be.

I have friends who have the phone and love to ask Siri, "What's the meaning of life?" She has an answer, which is impressive. Maybe it takes a circuit board to recognize the special quality of life. But frankly, her answer sounds a little robotic.

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7:53am

Sat October 8, 2011
The Impact of War

Now Serving In Uniform, Teacher Seeks To Inspire

Darryl St. George was a high school teacher on Long Island before becoming a Navy corpsman. In June, he was serving in southern Afghanistan. He's back in the U.S. for the time being and has visited his former school.

David Gilkey NPR

Darryl St. George has served his country both in and out of uniform. He left his high school teaching job on Long Island in 2010 to become a U.S. Navy corpsman, a medic for the U.S. Marines.

"I loved teaching. It was a great job, but I felt like something was missing. I kind of — I felt compelled to serve," he told NPR's Tom Bowman in July.

At the time, he was at a dusty combat outpost in southern Afghanistan. St. George had one month left in his deployment to Afghanistan, and said that when he came home, he planned to visit the school where he had taught.

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9:14am

Sat August 6, 2011
Simon Says

Raw Jobs Numbers Mask The Pain Of Joblessness

People might be shaken to wake to the news today of the nation's downgraded credit rating. But yesterday's unemployment report reflects a much more personal impact for many Americans. Not having a job in the United States can feel like getting punched in your stomach every morning. It can literally ache and take your breath away.

There are lots of people who may disappear in the monthly unemployment numbers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies 8.4 million Americans as "involuntary part-time workers."

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8:24am

Sat July 16, 2011
Simon Says

Minnesota Survives A Cold Near-Beer Experience

Originally published on Sat July 16, 2011 1:03 pm

The Ugly Mug restaurant and bar in Minneapolis displays a few of its MillerCoors products.
Jim Mone AP

Cold beer is on tap in Minnesota this weekend. But it was almost the casualty of the two-week shutdown of the state government that may have come to an end.

MillerCoors, which holds "brand label registrations" for 39 beers, including Miller, Coors, Blue Moon Pale and Hamm's — almost 40 percent of the beer sold in Minnesota — sent in its renewal notice on June 15.

But the state Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Agency said that MillerCoors overpaid its registration fees and refused to stamp the paperwork.

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8:00am

Sat July 16, 2011
Commentary

Green Card Lottery Snafu Has Some Seeing Red

More than 22,000 people were disappointed and probably angry Friday. They were people who thought they had won spots to enter the United States in last May's U.S. State Department lottery. Instead, the U.S. government announced a computer glitch made the lottery invalid. Host Scott Simon reflects on the situation.

8:32am

Sat July 2, 2011
Simon Says

Out Of The Mouths Of Hosts, Oft Times, Come Flubs

I have sympathy for anyone who says something stupid into a microphone — any politician, pundit or nervous best man who makes an inane wedding toast.

Been there. Done that.

Mark Halperin, Time magazine's senior political analyst and a frequent commenter on MSNBC, was suspended by the cable network this week for using a locker-room profanity to critique President Obama's latest press conference. The hosts of the Morning Joe program assured Mr. Halperin that a seven-second delay switch would delete any coarse assessment that he wanted to make.

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8:05am

Sat June 25, 2011
Simon Says

A Chinese Dissident Is Freed, But He's Still Not Free

Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and human rights activist, was released from prison late Wednesday night, and told western reporters, "In legal terms, I'm — how do you say? — on bail. So I cannot give any interviews. But I'm fine."

The state news agency says Mr. Ai was released after 80 days "because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes," which the state says is tax evasion, though he was held by the internal security bureau.

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8:42am

Sat June 18, 2011
Simon Says

Vegan Pad Thai Serves As Red Meat In A Food Fight

The biggest story in the Big Apple by the end of this week may not have been Weinergate, but The Diva vs. Doc smackdown.

A judge in Manhattan Criminal Court acquitted Marcella Caprario, an opera singer, of assaulting Dr. Catherine London, a family practitioner, over a vegan tofu pad-Thai frozen dinner in the aisle of a Trader Joe's market on the Upper West Side.

According to testimony, last Jan. 9 Ms. Caprario's husband, Bill Hobbs, leaned forward to reach for the vegan entrée in the freezer section. He found his route interrupted by Dr. London's 13-year-old son, Noah.

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8:57am

Sat June 11, 2011
Simon Says

In Memory Of MaSisulu, The Rock Of South Africa

Albertina Sisulu is being buried in Soweto, South Africa today. She was 92 when she died, and liked to recall that when she and a few other women organized a protest in 1956 of the passbooks that were bedrock of South Africa's apartheid laws, they chanted, "When you tamper with women, you strike a rock."

Albertina Sisulu was born in rural Transkei. Her father cracked rocks in South Africa's dangerous, pitiless mines, and died when she was 11. Her mother was sick and mournful. Albertina had to look after her mother and three siblings.

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8:45am

Sat June 4, 2011
Simon Says

Thomas Jefferson And The Cha Cha Slide

There's a meet-up planned at the Jefferson Memorial today. People are invited to bring their own music, listen to it on earbuds, and dance.

I'm not sure the meet-up began as a protest. It's become one now.

In May, an appeals court ruled that the U-S Park Police were right to arrest a woman named Mary Brooke Oberwetter for going to the Jefferson Memorial with a group of friends shortly before midnight on April 12, 2008, and silently dancing to salute Thomas Jefferson's 265th birthday.

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8:21am

Sat May 28, 2011
Simon Says

The Case Against Mladic: Chocolates And Mass Graves

When Ratko Mladic appeared in court in Belgrade yesterday, he was a frail-looking man of 69 with a bad right arm. His family says he's had a stroke. He mumbled.

But during the siege of Sarajevo in the mid-1990's, Mladic was a strutting general who famously commanded his Bosnian Serb gunners and snipers to "Burn their brains! Shell them until they're mad! Make blood run in the streets!"

They did.

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8:00am

Sat May 28, 2011
NPR Story

Thank You, Liane, You Kept Our Sundays Warm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, host:

The word warm usually precedes Liane Hansen's name the way sultry precedes Gina Lollabrigida. Liane's been the voice of Sunday morning - thoughtful, interesting, and, yes, warm - for the past 22 years. She steps down after her last show tomorrow. Even as we keep her as a friend, we'll miss our weekly Sunday morning get-togethers over news, music, good talk and that damn puzzle.

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8:17am

Sat May 21, 2011
Simon Says

Pomp And Circumstance And Tried But True Clichés

It's graduation season. Politicians, philanthropists, philosophers and movie stars fan out for the next few weeks to give commencement speeches: Bill Clinton was at NYU on Wednesday, Stephen Colbert goes to Northwestern in three weeks, Tom Hanks visits Yale tomorrow. I wonder if Mr. Hanks can resist saying, "Life is like a box of chocolates . . ."

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7:52am

Sat May 14, 2011
Simon Says

Inspiration In 140 Characters, Long Before Twitter

Newt Gingrich announced that he is running for president this week in a tweet: a short message on Twitter, where all messages can't be longer than 140 characters. Mr. Gingrich included a link to a YouTube video.

Tweets and other social media platforms have become their own media. Jokes and gossip, to be sure, built a lot of Twitter followings. But reporters and politicians now use it because tweets can reach millions of people almost as quickly, and more directly, than even radio or TV can.

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8:10am

Sat May 7, 2011
Simon Says

Osama bin Laden Joins His Own Legacy Of Death

When I covered the siege of Sarajevo, I heard stories about a slim, tall renegade Saudi prince who reportedly went there a couple of time bearing sacks of money.

"Our Muslim brothers are being killed, our women raped, our children massacred, all under the eye of the United Nations," the prince was said to have declared. "The West sends Blue Helmets and dried beans. We bring you guns and men."

It wasn't until later in the 1990's that I learned he was Osama bin Laden.

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8:05am

Sat April 23, 2011
Simon Says

Photographers' Focus Was On Other Side Of Lens

I think people in war zones sometimes speak more freely to photographers than they do to reporters. Microphones and notepads can make people conscious of what they're saying. But photographers can talk to them as people, not names in their stories. Photographers ask things like, "Do you have children? Do you like Katy Perry?" instead of, "What political faction do you belong to?"

A couple of great photographers died in a rocket attack of government forces on Misrata, Libya, this week.

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8:06am

Sat April 16, 2011
Simon Says

Stand Up And Be Counted. And Counted. And Counted.

I've voted nine times already today and I'm exhausted.

I've voted for my favorite news story of the day. I've voted for my favorite western movies—once for Shane, once for Blazing Saddles. Yeah, the campfire scene.

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8:37am

Sat April 9, 2011
Simon Says

No Lesson Learned For Witness To Brother's Murder

When Derrick Lemon was 8 years old in 1994, he saw two boys throw his 5-year-old brother, Eric Morse, out of a window of the Chicago housing project in which they lived.

Derrick tried to stop them. But the boys bit and scratched him. He ran down 14 flights of stairs to try to catch his little brother. But Eric died.

The boys, who were 10 and 11, also stabbed and beat Eric and became the youngest people in U.S. history to be jailed for murder.

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8:17am

Sat March 26, 2011
Simon Says

Elizabeth Taylor: Front-Page News To The Last

When Richard Burton first took up with his co-star in Cleopatra, he claimed to be astonished at how famous she was. "She knocks Khrushchev off the bloody front page!"

When Elizabeth Taylor — or, as many remembrances, including this one, I suppose, couldn't resist putting it, Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky — died this week at the age of 79, she shared the front page with an earthquake, a nuclear crisis, and rising revolutions.

Elizabeth Taylor never lost top billing.

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