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.

Jonathan Pollard is out of prison, if not totally free, after 30 years. He's on parole for another five years, during which he'll have to wear a GPS ankle bracelet, won't be able to give interviews, or leave for Israel, where he is considered a hero, and says he wants to live.

He also won't be able to use the internet without U.S. government scrutiny. Someone will point out: can any of us?

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We're following to news from France today after a night of devastating violence in Paris. Coordinated attacks killed more than 120 people in six separate attacks, leaving the city really and on edge. A Parisian man spoke with France 24 today.

Millions of people grew up in a time when we had nuclear nightmares. We worried that a few huge bombs might blow up the world, and we rehearsed how we should hide below our school desks if sirens ever sounded.

I'd hoped to persuade my daughters to dress up as Angela Merkel and Terry Gross for Halloween tonight. But they've decided to be a goddess and a princess.

Every year or so I try to look at surveys that show which Halloween costumes are most popular. The list must reveal something about whom we revere or fear, or what or whom we'd like to pretend to be for a few hours on a Halloween night.

Google reports the top name in searches for costumes this year is Harley Quinn, Batman's adversary, and, perhaps because of that, his occasional flirtation.

Barbie is about to talk back. She has talked before, with a pull-string in her back, so she could utter a phrase or two, like, "Let's have a pizza party!"

But Mattel is about to roll out Hello Barbie, who has a mic in her waist that connects to a server in a cloud. A company called Toy Talk will analyze whatever a child tells Barbie and play one of about 8,000 replies that will be recorded and updated to stay current.

Program Hello Barbie to say, "Donald Trump," "Chicago Cubs," and, "According to polls ..." and she could do my job.

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When is a panhandler a performer? And do nearly naked women perform when they pose for a photo, or are they unclad panhandlers who get tips because people want them to buy a coat?

Did you have a good summer? I spent much of mine being a critic. Perhaps you did, too.

Take a flight, you get an email: "Tell us about your flight to Cleveland." Stay at a hotel, you get another survey: "Rate your stay!"

Go to a movie, have dinner, buy a garden hose, gym shoes, or a car, get your teeth cleaned, your cat cremated, buy a movie ticket, send flowers, or have an MRI, and often you're asked to rate the experience, like a Broadway opening. Five stars? Only two?

Mornings are made by routine. The alarm that warbles at the usual hour, the smell of coffee, the sound of familiar voices.

Those of us who work the morning shift grow to appreciate the intimacy we have with those who tune in. People wake to our voices. We come into their kitchens. They hear us as they shower, shave and brush their teeth. People like to tell us, "I wake up with you," and I still laugh to hear that.

Jimmy Carter told a press conference he called on the morning of the day he would have the first radiation treatment on the cancer in his brain, "I'd like for the last guinea worm to die before I do."

Mr. Carter was frank, funny and graceful speaking this week about his health, and his faith. But his remark about the guinea worm may have puzzled a few people.

What do you give a city that has everything? Maybe not the Olympic Games.

This week the city of Boston declined to sign what's called a host city contract that would make it liable to pay for any losses incurred by the Olympics, which effectively ended its bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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There has been an outpouring of grief and sympathy since the shootings in Charleston, S.C., and calls for Americans to examine our minds and hearts.

But this week, in several spots around the country, little bags of candy have been left with harsh and hateful messages.

In Orange County, Calif., Tuscaloosa County, Ala., Rockdale County, Ga., and several other places — including, reportedly, Texas and New York state — someone, some group or groups of people, have left Ku Klux Klan fliers folded into small plastic baggies with candy.

Della Curry gave a free lunch to a hungry child that may be costly.

Curry is the kitchen manager — the lunch lady — at the Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, Colo. She set off a national debate this week when she said that last Friday, "I had a first-grader in front of me, crying, because she doesn't have enough money for lunch," Curry told Denver's KCNC TV. "Yes, I gave her a lunch."

And shortly thereafter, Curry was fired.

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How are you this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Fine. Holding up.



What kind of man or woman risks their lives for strangers?

Eric Seaman of Murrieta, Calif., was 30. He had two children, and was a U.S. Marine sergeant. His wife, Samantha Seaman, told CNN, "Last week I got an email telling me that he felt purpose and that he delivered 10,000 pounds of rice ... and I know that right before he passed away, I know that he helped somebody."

Sara Medina was 23. She enlisted in the Marines just out of high school in Aurora, Illinois, and served in South Korea, South America and Okinawa.

Big city mayors love to ride subways, after they're elected. Their iron-clad official automobiles may be comfortable, efficient, and wi-fi'd, but a politician who rides the subway now and then is better optics, as political consultants put it: a mayor standing, sweating and bouncing between stops with his or her constituents.

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

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

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

It has been wrenching these last few weeks to hear about the hostages killed by the group that calls itself the Islamic State, and learn about the extraordinary people we have lost: humanitarian workers, independent journalists, people who chose to put themselves in one of the most dangerous spots on earth in hope that they might do something needed and good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

"There's a Harvard man on the wrong side of every question," and this week that man may have been Ben Edelman, an associate professor at Harvard Business School.

Edelman, a Harvard Ph.D and lawyer, has been called the Sheriff of the Internet for pursuing companies he believes have committed online fraud.

Edelman ordered take-out from Sichuan Garden, a family-run restaurant in Brookline: sauteed prawns, stir-fried chicken, braised fish, napa cabbage with roasted chili, and shredded chicken with garlic sauce.

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.