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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The Salt
5:16 am
Sat February 18, 2012

At Gates Bar-B-Q, The Ultimate Flavor Lies in Burnt Ends

The brisket and ribs are on the fire at Gates Bar-B-Q for ... as long as it takes.
Tom Bullock NPR

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 9:54 am

How do you know you're in Kansas City, Missouri? Follow the smoke, and listen for this:

"Hi, may I help you?"

At the famed Gates Bar-B-Q in Kansas City, "May I help you?" is a kind of mantra.

It's how people standing in front of the barbecue pits greet all who walk in the door, while ribs, brisket, turkey, and for all I know, pillow stuffing sizzle, pop, and get saturated with smoke and the signature sauce of Ollie Gates, the barbecue master.

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Simon Says
6:54 am
Sat February 11, 2012

Ralph Nader's $2,680 Airplane Aisle Seat

When Americans traveled by stagecoach, they had to worry about rocks, rattlesnakes, robbers and other varmints. But I wonder if there weren't fewer passenger complaints.

Ralph Nader is not running for president this year. But he's giving a couple of speeches in Dallas this weekend and booked an American Airlines flight a couple of weeks ago for a $750 fare.

The flight takes three hours. Mr. Nader is 6 feet, 4 inches tall. His longtime travel agent tried to select an aisle seat, which is more comfortable for Mr. Nader. Probably for whoever might be next to him, too.

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Opinion
4:55 am
Sat January 7, 2012

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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Simon Says
6:00 am
Sat December 24, 2011

How Much Is That Purple Heart In The Window?

Originally published on Sat December 24, 2011 6:38 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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Simon Says
5:36 am
Sat December 17, 2011

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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Simon Says
8:09 am
Sat December 10, 2011

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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Simon Says
5:33 am
Sat December 3, 2011

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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Simon Says
6:00 am
Sat November 26, 2011

What Black Friday Crowds Are Really Shopping For

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

Originally published on Sat November 26, 2011 3:17 pm

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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Simon Says
5:00 am
Sat November 5, 2011

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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The Impact of War
4:53 am
Sat October 8, 2011

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

Originally published on Sat October 8, 2011 10:00 am

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 Navy corpsman, a medic for the 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 and said that when he came home, he planned to visit the school where he had taught.

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