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
11:18 am
Sat October 12, 2013

Judge: 'You're Still Deceased As Far As The Law Is Concerned'

An Ohio judge ruled that Donald Miller is legally dead — despite the fact that he is very much alive.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 6:05 am

Now and then there's a news story to remind us that few things are as simple as they may seem.

Donald Eugene Miller Jr. remained dead this week, even though he was feeling well enough to stand up in the Hancock County, Ohio, probate court and ask Judge Allan Davis to recognize what sounds pretty obvious: He's alive.

Mr. Miller, who is 61, disappeared from his home in Arcadia, Ohio, in 1986.

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Simon Says
5:28 pm
Sat October 5, 2013

Congress, Consider 'Courage' As Shutdown Wears On

The government shutdown began Tuesday, after lawmakers failed to pass a spending bill.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 5, 2013 9:11 am

The shutdown of the U.S. government occurs in the weeks leading to the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and it might be an inviting time to look at a book he published in 1956 while in the U.S. Senate: Profiles in Courage.

Kennedy profiled eight politicians of all stripes who crossed party lines or defied the sentiments of their constituents to do what they felt was right — at a cost to their careers. To cite a few chapters:

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Simon Says
5:01 pm
Sat September 21, 2013

Hemingway's Rejected Early Work Is Fit To Print After All

Ernest Hemingway, shown here in 1939.
AP

Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 9:34 am

Harper's Magazine is publishing a story in its October issue by a promising young author named Ernest Hemingway.

"My Life in the Bull Ring with Donald Ogden Stewart," a five-page story about a socialite who comes face to horns with a bull, was written by Hem when he was just 25. It was rejected in 1924 by Vanity Fair magazine, whose editor, Frank Crowninshield, wrote, "With our regret ... we cannot use it, clever and amusing as it undoubtedly is," which is a phrase that's about as undoubtedly dry as a martini at the old Algonquin.

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Simon Says
3:33 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 11:01 am

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
3:27 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 9:39 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
12:07 pm
Sat August 3, 2013

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

Courtesy of the Simon family

Originally published on Sat August 3, 2013 11:46 am

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
3:47 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 11:22 am

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
6:57 am
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 6:44 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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Middle East
4:39 am
Sat June 1, 2013

Peaceful Protest Over Istanbul Park Turns Violent

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 5:55 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is Weekend Edition from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon.

(SOUNDBITE OF RIOTING)

SIMON: Turkish riot police fired tear gas and water cannons on demonstrators in downtown Istanbul during a second day of protests. The clashes were triggered by the government's plan to build a shopping mall in a downtown park. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called for an immediate end to the protest. NPR's Peter Kenyon joins us from Istanbul. Peter, thanks for being with us.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Hi, Scott.

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Simon Says
3:29 am
Sat June 1, 2013

High School Newspapers: An Endangered Species

Student newspapers may be the latest victims of social media.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 1, 2013 12:49 pm

Does your local high school have a student newspaper? And in this day when a social media message saying, "Tonight's Green Design and Technology class homework sucks!" can instantly be sent to thousands, does it need to?

The New York Times reports this week that only 1 in 8 of New York's public high schools has a student newspaper — and many of those are published just a few times a year. A few more are online, which can leave out poorer schools.

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Simon Says
6:54 am
Sat May 11, 2013

The X-ray Vision Of Mothers

Mothers somehow know when we've been bad, but when times are tough, they also have our back.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 12:10 pm

Mothers have eyes in the back of their heads. They may not show up on X-rays, but they're there.

Like a lot of youngsters, I used to get my mother to turn her head so I could search through her hair for the eyeballs she claimed to have back there, telling her, "No you don't! No you don't!" But when I'd scamper off to another part of the apartment and pick up an ashtray or fiddle with the window blinds, I'd hear my mother's voice ring out, "I can see you! I know what you're up to!"

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Simon Says
9:08 am
Sat April 20, 2013

A 'Tough, Smart, Proud Town' Meets Terror With Determination

Boston residents celebrated Friday night after law enforcement officers captured one of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat April 20, 2013 11:57 am

People in Boston can speak for themselves. And do. Loudly, bluntly and often with humor that bites.

It's a city that speaks with both its own broad, homebrew, local accent — although no one really pahks thea cah in Havahd Yahd — and dialects from around the world. It is home to some of America's oldest founding families, and fathers, mothers and children who have just arrived from Jamaica, Ireland, Bangladesh and Ghana.

There are people in Boston who dress in pinstripes and tweeds, and tattoos and spiked hair. Sometimes, they are even the same person.

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Remembrances
3:07 am
Sat April 13, 2013

How Did All Those People Get Inside Jonathan Winters?

Originally published on Sat April 13, 2013 8:11 am

You can call anyone but Einstein a genius and start an argument.

Well, maybe Einstein or Jonathan Winters. The comedian, who died Friday at the age of 87, was immediately hailed by Steve Martin, Robin Williams and others as a genius.

He made hit comedy albums, was a regular on the old Tonight Show, memorably knocked down a gas station in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World and co-starred with and inspired Robin Williams.

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Simon Says
3:11 am
Sat April 6, 2013

Roger Ebert: Elegance and Empathy

The iconic Chicago photographer Art Shay took portraits of presidents, prizefighters, prose poets — and in the person of Roger Ebert, at least one Pulitzer-winning critic.
Art Shay

Originally published on Sun April 7, 2013 9:08 am

Roger Ebert was a critic, not a blowtorch. He could be sharp if he thought a movie insulted the audience, but had a champ's disdain for a cheap shot.

Many critics ridiculed the film Deep Throat when it came out in 1973. Who couldn't mock its absurdities? Roger just wrote, "If you have to work this hard at sexual freedom, maybe it isn't worth the effort."

Roger Ebert was a Chicago newspaperman who typed with two fingers — it sounded like a machine gun, columnist Bob Greene remembered on Friday — who was from the age when reporters were fueled by ink and booze.

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Commentary
6:47 am
Sat March 23, 2013

Resurrected Frog Gives Us Cause To Brood

This week scientists announced they have reproduced the genome of an extinct amphibian, the gastric brooding frog.
Auscape/UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 23, 2013 12:06 pm

The gastric brooding frog may be coming back. Does that give us a lot to brood about, too?

This week scientists at the University of New South Wales' Lazarus Project announced they have reproduced the genome — that bit of biological material that carries our genetic structure — of a gastric brooding frog.

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Simon Says
6:18 am
Sat March 9, 2013

Snowquester Fizzles, But We're Humbled Anyway

The failed Snowquester reminds us, during a time of national debate, that experts can still be wrong.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 9, 2013 12:22 pm

Snowquester fizzled.

Wednesday was more or less canceled this week in official Washington, D.C. An enormous winter storm bore down on the region, threatening ice, a foot of snow in the city (more in the suburbs), and wind and misery throughout the region.

Most of the federal government was closed. I know, I know. How could they tell? Local governments and schools, too. Flights were canceled, planes diverted, and throngs descended on grocery stores, picking the shelves clean of bread, milk and toilet tissue.

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Commentary
6:11 am
Sat March 2, 2013

Pianist Van Cliburn, Warmed Russian Hearts During Cold War

Van Cliburn accepts flowers from the audience in the Moscow Conservatory in April 1958, after a performance during the first International Tchaikovsky Competition, which he won.
Courtesy Van Cliburn Foundation AP

Originally published on Sat March 2, 2013 4:35 pm

Van Cliburn thawed out the Cold War.

He went to Moscow in 1958 for the first International Tchaikovsky Competition. When he sat down to play, Russians saw a tall, 23-year-old Texan, rail thin and tousle-haired, with great, gangly fingers that grew evocative and eloquent when he played the music of the true Russian masters — Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and Borodin.

Cliburn died Wednesday at his home in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 78.

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Simon Says
3:20 am
Sat February 16, 2013

Is Honest Abe's Stovepipe Hat A Fake?

Abraham Lincoln's iconic stovepipe hat is on display at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 8:06 am

Abraham Lincoln's black stovepipe hat is an icon. It seemed to enhance his height, emphasize his dignity and, I suppose, keep his head warm.

There is a stovepipe hat at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., soiled and slightly brown with age. Lincoln is said to have given it to William Waller, a farmer and political supporter in Jackson County, Ill., and kept by his family for decades.

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Simon Says
3:12 am
Sat February 2, 2013

History Sometimes Rewards Those Who Are Sidelined

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith looks on from the sidelines during the overtime period against the New York Giants on Jan. 22, 2012, in San Francisco.
G. Newman Lowrance AP

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 3:26 am

You might look for a player along the sidelines in the Super Bowl on Sunday named Alex Smith and wonder, as he might, if he'll be the next Wally Pipp or Ken Mattingly.

Pipp was the Yankee first baseman in 1925 who had a headache and was told to take two aspirin and sit out the game. A young player named Lou Gehrig took his place — and stayed at first base for 14 years, becoming one of baseball's most storied players.

Pipp wound up working in a screw factory. He was a good sport who told fans in later years, "I took the two most expensive aspirin in history."

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Simon Says
3:28 am
Sat January 26, 2013

'Ebony' Editor Began Life Black In Nazi Germany

Hans Massaquoi told his story in Destined to Witness: Growing up Black in Nazi Germany. The former managing editor of Ebony magazine died on his 87th birthday last Saturday.
Matthew P. D'Agostino AP

Originally published on Sat January 26, 2013 3:36 pm

The proudest moment of Hans Massaquoi's boyhood was when his babysitter sewed a swastika on his sweater. He was a 7-year-old boy in Hamburg who wanted to be part of the excitement of the times he saw. But when his mother got home, she snipped off the swastika.

He also wanted to join the Hitler Youth. "They had cool uniforms," Massaquoi wrote years later, "and they did exciting things — camping, parades, playing drums."

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Simon Says
8:27 am
Sat January 12, 2013

Cheating Might Buy Home Runs, But No Hall Of Fame

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 11:23 am

The Baseball Hall of Fame is a tourist attraction, not a papal conclave. And the people who cast votes for the Hall are sportswriters, not the College of Cardinals.

But there was something momentous this week when the Baseball Writers Association elected no one to the Hall of Fame. Not Roger Clemens, who won a record seven Cy Young Awards. Not Barry Bonds, who hit a record 762 home runs. Not Sammy Sosa, who hit 60 or more home runs in a season three times.

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Simon Says
6:41 am
Sat January 12, 2013

Baseball Hall Of Fame Snub Draws The Line

Originally published on Sat January 12, 2013 7:22 am

There was something momentous this week when the Baseball Writers Association elected no one to the Hall of Fame. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon remarks on the rebuke, rare in a sport where bad behavior is routine.

Commentary
7:48 am
Sat December 22, 2012

The Mayan Apocalypse: Worthwhile, In Hindsight

Visitors at the Chichen Itza archaeological park in Yucatan state, Mexico, celebrate the end of the Mayan calendar cycle. Even a failed apocalypse has value, in reminding us that life is fragile and unpredictable.
Pedro Pardo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:40 am

Yesterday came and went, but I never finished Ulysses. I never took up skydiving. Come to think of it, I didn't even really finish cleaning up my closet before the "Mayan Apocalypse," which did not occur yesterday, Dec. 21.

I remember thinking,"Finally, I get a Friday off — but there's an apocalypse."

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Simon Says
4:54 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Good Intentions, Complicated Results

The photo that touched many hearts: New York City Police Officer Lawrence DePrimo gives a shoeless man a pair of boots on a frigid night last month.
Jennifer Foster NYPD via Facebook

Originally published on Sat December 8, 2012 1:57 pm

When news organizations, including ours, told of New York Police Officer Lawrence DePrimo buying boots for a barefoot man on the streets of Times Square one cold night last month, it seemed an irresistible holiday story: A kindly cop in a hard city helps a bedraggled man walking with blistered feet over some of the richest streets in the world.

The nameless, shoeless man became the best-known street person in America — just long enough to be recognized walking along the Upper West Side, where a New York Times reporter found him.

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Simon Says
8:41 am
Sat December 1, 2012

Sexiest Man Alive Gets 'The Onion' Taken Seriously

The satirical news source The Onion named North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un 2012's Sexiest Man Alive.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 1, 2012 9:09 am

If satire had an Olympics, The Onion might have won a gold medal this week. The satirical news source announced that its Sexiest Man Alive for 2012 is Kim Jong Un, North Korea's Supreme Leader.

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Simon Says
3:27 am
Sat November 24, 2012

Jesse Jackson Jr.: Great Hopes And Disappointments

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. speaks to constituents in Chicago in 2009. Jackson resigned from Congress on Wednesday, following a hospitalization and an investigation into misuse of campaign funds.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 24, 2012 12:27 pm

Jesse Jackson Jr. has a famous name and fabulous contacts, and had what looked like boundless prospects when he was first on the national stage at the Democratic National Convention in 1988.

John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy had appeared to talk about the legacy of their late father, the president. But a few nights later, Jackson took the podium to present his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and said, "My name is Jesse Louis Jackson Jr., and I also proudly carry a great American name."

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Simon Says
8:23 am
Sat November 10, 2012

Making A Case For Closer Contact In Congress

From left, Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) await President Obama's State of the Union address in January 2011, when a bipartisan seating arrangement symbolically suggested a more cooperative spirit among lawmakers.
Brendan Smialowski Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 12:32 pm

Gridlock is the term many use to describe what happens when legislation gets stalled in the U.S. Congress.

But gridlock suggests that people in Congress at least run into each other. I've had enough casual, personal conversations with representatives in both parties in recent years to begin to think a more critical problem might be that politicians of opposing parties are almost strangers to each other.

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Simon Says
5:55 am
Sat November 3, 2012

Emergency Workers Heroes Even Before Sandy

First responders rescue flood-stranded people from a sodden neighborhood in Little Ferry, N.J., on Tuesday.
Craig Ruttle AP

Originally published on Sat November 3, 2012 2:23 pm

On Halloween night this week, millions of children tumbled into their neighborhoods dressed as Captain America, Spiderman, Batman, Bat Girl and Wonder Woman. But that night, true superheroes were at work in uniforms, not costumes.

They were firefighters, police officers, emergency workers and ordinary citizens in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and elsewhere who gave brave and extraordinary efforts to protect and rescue their families and neighbors. They risked their lives for strangers.

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NPR Story
5:55 am
Sat November 3, 2012

The Political Middle: What Ohioans Have To Say

Originally published on Sat November 3, 2012 8:48 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's already starting to rain over northern Ohio this past weekend as the outer whirls of Hurricane Sandy approached. Just a few days before the election, people in Reminderville, the village of about 3,000, were concerned about turnout.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Trick or treat.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Trick or treat.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Hey, what's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Hi.

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Simon Says
6:44 am
Sat October 13, 2012

The Pirate Prince Of Sealand, Remembered

British pirate radio broadcaster Paddy Roy Bates with his wife, Joan, and daughter, Penny, in 1966.
Evening Standard Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 13, 2012 10:58 am

Paddy Roy Bates, the self-proclaimed prince of Sealand, was almost 80 when I met him in the summer of 2000. He was silvery and straight-backed — very much the model of a modern major, which he was in the British Army during World War II, when he survived frostbite, malaria, snakebites and a German bomb that shattered his jaw so badly a surgeon told him no woman would ever love him. So he married a former beauty queen named Joan and made her the princess of Sealand.

Let me explain.

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