Weekend Edition Saturday

Saturday mornings are made for Weekend Edition Saturday, the program wraps up the week's news and offers a mix of analysis and features on a wide range of topics, including arts, sports, entertainment, and human interest stories. The two-hour program is hosted by NPR's Peabody Award-winning Scott Simon.

Drawing on his experience in covering 10 wars and stories in all 50 states and seven continents, Simon brings a humorous, sophisticated and often moving perspective to each show. He is as comfortable having a conversation with a major world leader as he is talking with a Hollywood celebrity or the guy next door.

Weekend Edition Saturday has a unique and entertaining roster of other regular contributors. Marin Alsop, conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, talks about music. Daniel Pinkwater, one of the biggest names in children's literature, talks about and reads stories with Simon. Financial journalist Joe Nocera follows the economy. Howard Bryant of EPSN.com and NPR's Tom Goldman chime in on sports. Keith Devlin, of Stanford University, unravels the mystery of math, and Will Grozier, a London cabbie, talks about good books that have just been released, and what well-read people leave in the back of his taxi. Simon contributes his own award-winning essays, which are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant.

Weekend Edition Saturday is heard on NPR Member stations across the United States, and around the globe on NPR Worldwide. The conversation between the audience and the program staff continues throughout the social media world.

During the three-day lockdown, the government of Sierra Leone is sending tea...
Under the country's three-day experiment to control the deadly Ebola virus, people must stay home while health care teams go door-to-door to spread the word on prevention.

Sierra Leone is holding a country-wide experiment: For three days, no one is allowed to leave their home.

It's part of the country's strategy for controlling the deadly Ebola virus. While people across Sierra Leone stay at home, teams of workers go door-to-door, educating the public about the disease.

The effort got its shaky start on Friday.

The streets were empty in the heart of Freetown, the capitol. The only sound came from a few street sweepers and a police van blasting a song from an old speaker.

The lyrics: "Ebola is real. It's a terrible disease, and there is no cure."

At 8 a.m., on the west side of town, more than 100 people packed into a community health center. Some wore fluorescent vests; others white t-shirts saying "Prevent Ebola."

A government official began grouping the workers into teams of four. Many of the workers were young, like 25-year-old James Kargbo, a public school teacher who said he wants to help his country.

"We only have one Sierra Leone," he said. "If we allow this deadly virus, Ebola, to ravage our society, who will accommodate us? Already, other African countries despise us. So if we allow this disease to take hold, at the end of the day, we are all going to be victims."

James and others were ready to go. There was just one problem: None of the materials they were supposed to deliver had arrived. Three hours later, people were getting impatient — when a truck finally pulled up.

Workers unloaded boxes of soap, but the educational posters that were supposed to be hung on people's homes, were not on board. The teams headed out anyway.

One group ventured into an area of wooden shacks and open sewers, right at the edge of the ocean. Children were everywhere. Juliana Karimu, a nurse, gathered a group of residents to tell them about Ebola.

"Well, let me give you my own view of Ebola," she began, explaining that the virus can kill, and if one person gets sick, so can the whole family. But one way to keep yourself safe, Karimu said, is to wash your hands regularly with soap and water.

"Make sure you use this soap," she said. Someone fetched a bowl of water to demonstrate, and another team member handed out bars of soap. Many people asked for more.

After the team departed, Mariatu Fofanah turned back to her cassava stew, simmering over a small fire. The three-day lockdown is making it difficult to feed her kids, she said. She can't do her usual work — selling food on the street.

But, she said, she'll somehow manage.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

David Candow, known around NPR as "The Host Whisperer," has died. He was a great teacher, not only instructing us about the craft of radio news but reminding why the craft is important.

A man known around here as "The Host Whisperer" has died.

David Candow was 74. He was a slightly tubby man from Newfoundland with a sly smile and a soft voice. I wanted nothing to do with him.

David was a consultant, brought in to work with NPR hosts and reporters on writing and delivery. People who make their living on the air often distrust consultants. We figure they've been brought in by executives who have usually never recorded more than a voicemail message, and want all hosts to sound the same.

David had put actual programs on the CBC in a 35-year career there, and worked around the world. But he didn't try to impress with his experience. Instead, he said, "Let's just talk," and I came to learn that was how he saw the craft of broadcasting.

"Don't announce," he said. "Talk. Don't act. Be yourself. It's a very hard thing, eh?" he'd say. "To be yourself in front of all those people. But if you can be yourself, you'll sound like no one else, and people really hear what's real."

David had a few rules for writing, which he called "good ideas," because he knew journalists balk at rules. Over the years, I've found David Candow's advice as valuable as George Orwell's, with which it had a lot in common.

Be clear and conversational. Don't put long, multi-titled, hyphenated prefaces before names.

"Would you ask a friend," asked David, "'Have you seen the new movie by actor, producer and five-time-Academy Award nominee Brad Pitt?' You'd probably say, 'Have you seen the new Brad Pitt movie?'"

Don't say, "Composer Phillip Glass." Say, "Phillip Glass has written a new opera."

Give people credit, David said with a wry half-smile. "After all, they listen to you, don't they?"

Avoid dependent clauses, he advised, so people don't have to chase a sentence the way a cat tries to catch up with the end of a string.

Try to avoid words that end in i-n-g. All those extra letters and sounds slow a sentence. Say, "The Dodgers play tonight," not "are playing."

Say rain or snow, not precipitation. Avoid corporate and technical cliches, and if you begin to hear a word too much — bandwidth, curate, eclectic and robust are my current least-favorites — it's become a cliche; don't use it.

And like Orwell, David said, "Break any of these rules if it will help people remember what you say."

Great teachers don't just instruct us about craft, but remind why the craft is important. David Candow used to remind us, "One of the most compelling sounds for the human ear is the sound of another human voice talking about something they care about."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Ooh, you smell so good ... and we're both members of the Whig party, too! Turns out there's scientific evidence that people who share political beliefs are attracted to each other's body odor.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.