Weekend Edition Saturday

  • Hosted by Scott Simon
  • Local Host Karlie Huckels

A weekend morning news magazine covering hard news, a wide variety of news makers, and cultural stories. On Saturdays, Simon's award-winning commentaries sum up an idea or event related to the week's news. There are clever, informative exchanges, and fresh reports from a cross-section of NPR correspondents on topics from religion to health to food to politics. Simon's interviews with key artists, authors, performers and personalities are always memorable.

Paul Collins-Hackett sits in Albany's Youth Opportunity Office trying to guide a teenage boy through the ins and outs of getting a job.

"This is the part that I don't shut up about," he instructs the young man. "If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late. If you're late, you might as well not show up."

The young man nods his head in agreement. Collins-Hackett is a little like a big brother — encouraging but direct.

For my day job here at NPR, I cover identity, race and culture. And in 2019, there was no shortage of stories to tell.

This summer I met a girl named Katy Martinez — she was 16 and bubbly and spoke so fast she would forget to take breaths between sentences. She was obsessed with dance and like most teens spent a lot of time on her phone. But in the past year, something had started to bother her. She noticed people making assumptions about her based on her name and her ethnicity. She was born in Las Vegas; her parents came from El Salvador.

There are scores of holiday stories on streaming services this season, and a lot of them seem rolled out of the same candy cane factory: snow, smiles and the real meaning of love.

As an aficionado of the form, I've tried to sketch out my own version:

Charlayne had an exciting life as managing editor of a Manhattan fashion magazine. But something was missing.

Kacey Musgraves, the Grammy award-winning country music star, released a Christmas special last month on Amazon Prime's video streaming service. It features Musgraves and with her band, along with special guests including Lana Del Rey, Leon Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, James Corden, the Radio City Rockettes and so many more.

Author Susan Cooper knows what it is to be scared of the dark. As a child growing up in England during World War II, she remembers long, dark nights, with Nazi bombers flying overhead.

"We would be sitting in a raid shelter underneath the back lawn with Mum reading books to us by the light of a candle," she recalls. "When the bombs came closer, the candle would shake."

Two young British soldiers, Blake and Schofield, are given an uncommon mission in World War I: deliver a message that could save 1,600 lives — including Blake's brother.

That's the conceit of 1917, starring Colin Firth as the general who gives the order, and Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay as the two soldiers. They're assigned to move across a hellscape of gouged-out trenches, burnt ruins, fat rats, and war's wreckage.

Dec. 21 is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. And across the country, some churches are offering "Blue Christmas" services — setting aside the tinsel and other trappings for a night, to acknowledge the darkness in life.

Carolyn Nelson's husband died 15 years ago, and she misses him. Especially around the holidays.

"That's someone I celebrated with," Nelson explains. "And when that's gone — you feel lost. It can be a hard time for people."

A woman lived in her car in front of our apartment building for a couple of weeks. Our family brought down some food, clothing and a blanket, but the woman hesitated to open her door when we knocked and smiled.

After all, who were we? Why should she trust us?

We did not call police or a city agency to say, "There's a woman living in a car on our street." I've reported stories where I've spent the night in city homeless shelters. They can feel crowded and unsafe, and have little privacy. I can see why someone would choose to stay on the street or in their car.

At the height of the Cold War in 1958, Van Cliburn, a curly-headed kid from Texas, won the International Tchaikovsky Competition. He was hugged by Nikita Khrushchev and heralded like Elvis Presley when he returned.

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

A privately funded, nonprofit organization is creating a 3.2 million-acre wildlife sanctuary — American Prairie Reserve — in northeastern Montana, an area long known as cattle country.

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