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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Simon Says
4:33 am
Sat September 7, 2013

When Weighing Intervention In Syria, Consider The Children

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

Originally published on Sat September 7, 2013 12:01 pm

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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Simon Says
11:04 am
Sat August 31, 2013

If Life Traveled From Mars To Earth On A Rock, Who Are We?

What if we're all from Mars?
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat August 31, 2013 10:59 am

We might be Martians.

This week Steven Benner, president of the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, told the annual Goldschmidt Conference in Florence, Italy, that "the evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock."

Ker-plunk!

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Simon Says
4:27 am
Sat August 24, 2013

Remembering Elmore Leonard, A Writer Who Hated Literature

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

Originally published on Sat August 24, 2013 10:39 am

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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Simon Says
8:17 pm
Sat August 17, 2013

Might Bad Handwriting Lead To 'Lend Me Your Beers'?

If the 325 lines from Thomas Kyd's play The Spanish Tragedy become accepted as William Shakespeare's work, it will be the first time new work has been added to Shakespeare's canon since Edward III was acknowledged as his in the 1990s.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 6:35 am

William Shakespeare was a singular genius who sometimes made that hard to see — or at least read.

The New York Times reports this week that modern computer analysis has persuaded scholars that 325 lines in the 1602 edition of Thomas Kyd's play The Spanish Tragedy were truly authored by Shakespeare.

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Simon Says
9:08 am
Thu August 8, 2013

'Three Jewish Husbands, But No Guilt': My Mother's Wisdom

Courtesy of the Simon family

Originally published on Sat August 3, 2013 12:46 pm

Thank you for all of the kind notes and messages, from truly millions of people.

When I flew to my mother's hospital room here in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, I did not expect it to become — and prayed it wouldn't be — the place where she would die. I didn't set out to keep a deathbed vigil in short bursts, and am only now beginning to appreciate how the glimpse of her spirit in those tweets touched something raw and beautiful in so many.

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Simon Says
4:47 am
Sat July 13, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 12:22 pm

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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Simon Says
9:47 am
Mon July 1, 2013

'Annoying Music' Host Leaves 'Magnificent Obsession' Behind

Jim Nayder, host of the The Annoying Music Show and Magnificent Obession, died this week. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon, left, remembers his good friend.
Courtesy Scott Simon

Originally published on Sun June 30, 2013 3:46 pm

Longtime Chicago radioman Jim Nayder brought ear-aching music from his Annoying Music Show to Weekend Edition for many years. He died on Friday at the age of 59. Host Scott Simon has this remembrance of his friend.

Jim Nayder was a sweet soul and a cockeyed wit in a world with too little of both. He said annoying music wasn't bad, so much as good songs recorded by big stars who should have known better.

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Simon Says
11:01 pm
Sat June 22, 2013

Bidding Farewell To Tony Soprano

James Gandolfini played Tony Soprano in the hit TV series The Sopranos. Gandolfini died of cardiac arrest in Italy this week at age 51.
Barry Wetcher HBO

Originally published on Sat June 22, 2013 7:44 pm

Anthony Soprano, a waste-management consultant from Essex County, N.J., died this week.

Tony Soprano was — according to reports that aired for six years on HBO — head of the DiMeo crime family, which allegedly ran illicit drugs, untaxed alcohol, illegal sports betting and other criminal enterprises from the back of an adult entertainment venue called the Bada Bing club on Route 17 in Lodi.

Mr. Soprano denied his involvement in organized crime. He said it was a "vicious stereotype" that slurs waste-removal professionals who promote a green, healthy environment.

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Simon Says
9:33 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Did ATMs Represent The Dawn Of The Digital Era?

Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon says he now realizes ATM machines represented the dawn of the digital age.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 3:40 pm

Sometimes history stares you in the face, and you look in the wrong direction.

As a young reporter in the late 1970s, I did stories about some of the first automatic teller machines as they came into use. Most of my stories bore in on the concerns that seemed most urgent back then: Will people trust getting money from a machine, not a person? What if you ask the machine for $50 and it spits out $20?

Today, those worries sound as antique as wondering if the Iron Horse would put a lot of blacksmiths out of business — which I guess the automobile did.

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Simon Says
11:07 am
Tue June 11, 2013

The Speech Eisenhower Never Gave On The Normandy Invasion

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower addresses American paratroopers in England on the evening of June 5, 1944, as they prepare for the Battle of Normandy.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Sun June 9, 2013 4:39 am

Sometimes history gets revealed in small, nearly forgotten scraps.

The Allied invasion of Normandy took place this week in 1944. On the evening of June 5, the largest armada in history began to churn through heavy swells in the English Channel, and pink-cheeked young paratroops prepared to board airplanes that would fly through heavy gales to drop them in darkness on Occupied France.

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