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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.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Jose Antonio Vargas is an activist, journalist and filmmaker. In 2008, he was part of a Washington Post team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings.

But the kind of recognition that would make most journalists proud worried Vargas. It could lead to revealing a secret at the heart of his life — a secret that he himself didn't discover until he was 16.

Rick Pitino has an amazing record in college basketball. He coached three different teams — at Providence College, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville — to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. He's a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A River of Stars is a kind of road story.

Scarlett, a factory worker from China, and Daisy, a Taiwanese-American teenager, go on the lam. They're fleeing Perfume Bay, a secret home in Los Angeles where pregnant women from China are sent — by rich husbands, married lovers or prosperous parents — to give birth such that their babies may enjoy "the most precious gift of all": U.S. citizenship.

But Scarlett and Daisy have their own suspicions about what might happen to them after they give birth.

"Enemy of the people" is an incendiary phrase. It's been uttered by some of history's most vicious thugs — Robespierre, Goebbels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao — to vilify their opponents ... who were often murdered.

President Trump must know that history by now when he calls the press "the enemy of the people." As he must also know the anti-Semitic and racist history of the America First slogan, by which the president describes many of his policies.

Growing up as a child in Bogotá, Ingrid Rojas Contreras was almost the victim of a terrible crime. Violence reigned in Colombia under drug lord Pablo Escobar — bombings, kidnappings and assassinations were commonplace. Contreras didn't know it at the time, but her mother was receiving threatening phone calls detailing the routines of her daughters' lives: "They got off the bus at this hour. We know what the bus route is. We know what they look like."

There was a conspicuous act of bravery in the second half of this week's World Cup championship game.

The French team, which won 4-2, was bold and deft. Many of its players are immigrants, or children of immigrants, from Africa. Its victory was also seen as a triumph over bigots in France who have vilified and attacked immigrants.

The Croatian national team was dauntless. Several of its players were from families who were refugees when their country was torn by war.

Anne Tyler's latest novel is about a woman in her 60s who marries young, has two children and is widowed young, remarries — and finds her life truly changed, late in the game, by a phone call asking for help, that was probably made in error. (Though that doesn't make it a mistake.)

The new book — Tyler's 21st — is called Clock Dance. It has a saguaro cactus on the cover, but Tyler's novels almost always lead to Baltimore, which is where she was when we spoke.


Interview Highlights

On the creation of Willa, her main character

Bobby Shafran got an unexpectedly warm welcome on his first day at college in 1980.

"Immediately everyone greeted him like he'd been there for years," says filmmaker Tim Wardle. "Guys coming up to him, slapping him on the back, girls are kissing him. He's never been there before — he doesn't know what they're talking about."

Yasmin Williams only started playing the guitar after beating all the songs on expert-level on Guitar Hero II. "I figured, well, I beat that game, I can probably play a real guitar now," she says.

The new novel Confessions of the Fox is a mystery enrobed in a mystery.

Deborah Epstein has spent her professional life fighting for victims of domestic violence. But protecting such victims is also what Epstein says led her to step down from a commission meant to tackle the issue of domestic violence in the National Football League.

At the age of 64, when some retired people would look at brochures for cruises, Nell Irvin Painter — professor emeritus of American history at Princeton University — decided to go to art school.

In 1978, Ron Stallworth was working as a detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department when he came across a classified ad to find out more about the Ku Klux Klan — and answered it. Two weeks later, he got a call on the police department's undercover operations line. It was the local KKK organizer. He asked why Stallworth wanted to join the Klan.

"I said I wanted to join because I was a pure, Aryan, white man who was tired of the abuse of the white race by blacks and other minorities," Stallworth recalls.

An Israeli television series with an Arabic name that shows Israelis and Palestinians plotting against each other — and themselves — has become a fan favorite in 190 countries around the world, including Israel and many Arab states.

Fauda — Arabic for "chaos" — is now streaming its second season on Netflix in the United States. Lior Raz stars as Doron, an Israeli Defense Forces special operative who defies authority, has a messy domestic life and complicates everything by both spying on and falling for a Palestinian doctor who gets married to a Hamas commander.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

We all have songs that bring memories. Fifty years ago, Laura Nyro wrote a song that put momentous and terrifying events into words. Martin Luther King, an apostle of peace, had been shot down. There was grief, unrest and uprising in the streets.

On the day this week that Roseanne was canceled because of a racist tweet, researchers from Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health estimated Hurricane Maria caused at least 4,645 deaths in Puerto Rico.

Now that is a story.

Sad! Pathetic! Fake News!

Have those words crept — or burst! — into your vocabulary in the past couple of years?

Any president has an impact on public rhetoric. But the influence of what I'll call Trumptalk, derived from the president's frequent tweets, may be even more communicable.

Sarcastic nicknames! Punchy phrases! Staccato sentences! Exclamation points scattered like bowling pins! We all talk like that now!

Aja Gabel's new novel has music cues for each new section. One of them is for Antonin Dvorak's "American" String Quartet in F, Op. 96, No. 12, which is performed in the opening of the book.

It's a love story, the famous violinist had said, and even though Jana knew it was not, those were the words that knocked around her brain when she began to play on stage.

The Week In Politics

May 19, 2018

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now we're going to turn to Ron Elving, NPR senior editor and Washington correspondent, because, of course, there is a political dimension to all of this. Ron, thanks very much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Maybe you heard - Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle, an American, today inside the grounds of Windsor Castle outside of London.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Shakespeare wrote great tyrants. Macbeth, the Scot who plots a bloody route to the throne; Richard III, the brother of a king, and "rudely stamped," in Shakespeare's phrase, who murders his way into power and madness; Coriolanus, the Roman ruler who believes power in the hands of citizens is like permitting "crows to peck the eagles," and betrays his city; King Lear, Lady Macbeth, Henry VI, Julius Caesar — one of Shakespeare's themes is how men and women may lust for power, then use it in the worst way.

The Cannes Film Festival has opened with sizzle and glitz. But when you see photos snapped along the red carpet, you might want to think of two directors whose films have been nominated for the Palme d'Or award but are a long ways away from that glamour.

Kirill Serebrennikov, a Russian director, is under arrest in his apartment in Moscow.

Jafar Panahi is prohibited from leaving Iran to come to Cannes.

Meeting your college roommate used to be one of the anxieties of the first week of school. But these days, many freshmen meet in advance online and arrange to room together.

Now, some schools have decided to bring back largely random pairings in the interest of broadening their students' horizons. Duke University announced their change earlier this year.

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