Simon Marcel Badinter, along with Kim Iverson, is a talk show radio host of The Rendezvous with Simon and Kim. Simon is the first syndicated French radio talk show host in the U.S. I recently talked with him about his career in talk radio and his future aspirations. Read below what he had to say.
When did you decide you wanted to get into talk radio?
“I’ve been in America for almost 20 years. In 2007, I was living in Cleveland, Ohio and I used to listen to talk radio. Most of the talk radio is very conservative. When I lived in Cleveland I paid my taxes for years so even though I have a French accent, I consider myself an American citizen (and am). I said to myself, I would like to talk to people, I would like to talk to more than my circle of friends. I would like to share my opinions. I love the format of talk radio because you can ask questions, and they can ask you questions. I went to the station WTAM (a big station in Cleveland). I asked to speak to the program director who is a legend named Kevin Metheny. Kevin said to me ”what do you want?’ I said ‘I would like to do a radio show.’ He said ‘have you ever done a radio show?’ I said ‘never.’ He said ‘you’ve never done broadcast radio?’ I said ‘never.’ He said ‘with that thick accent, who do you think will want to listen to you.’ I said, ‘I don’t know, do you want to listen to me?’ Kevin stopped a second and said ‘you know what I’ll give you a shot on Saturday, November 3rd, 2007. If you do good, we’ll hire you and you’ll do every Saturday. If you suck, we’ll give you the boot and you’ll never do a radio show at my station again.’
I started and I opened the mic. I’m Jewish so the first thing I wanted to say was thank you to all the World War II veterans who saved my life. Without the American soldiers, men like me would be in Nazi camps. The show went on and the ratings picked up. I loved my coworkers. After that I went to Chicago WGPN for three years. I didn’t do so well there. I thought I knew how to do radio in Cleveland but Chicago is different. I got fired two years later. Then a guy at CBS Radio said to me, ‘Simon with a French accent like yours, talk to women instead! With your accent when you talk politics, it’s like a foreigner telling us what to do.’ I said but I’m an American citizen. He said but your voice is not American. He said talk about love and relationships. I was in Cincinnati for a year then I got The Rendezvous with Simon and Kim.”
Congratulations on being the first syndicated French radio talk show host in the United States. What challenges did you face?
“First of all, everybody says that quote only in America and there’s a reason. This country has given me my American dream. But I had to go get it which means nobody handed me the radio show. I went and I convinced the first program director and then another program director and there’s still people who are still skeptic about having a French radio talk show host. I’ve faced many challenges. I still take English classes to improve my pronunciation. The challenge is, women get it. Men (the majority program directors at most stations) don’t get it. They have their own opinions about the French and they might think that this accent won’t sell. But I’m not discouraged by it. I’m motivated because I was lucky enough to have extraordinary parents.
My father used to say ‘What doesn’t dare, doesn’t lift.’ He would say, ‘Simon my boy, you can do anything you want.’ I’m the first Frenchmen to be on 30 stations every night live. I don’t take that for granted. Yes, I sound different when it comes to relationships and love. I’m always grateful to the people who said yes to me because there are more who said yes than said no. I owe everything I am to my wonderful parents, Robert and Elisabeth Badinter because they were there and gave me my education, my love of life and my confidence to dare. I get back up every time I get fired or fail.”
Tell us about The Rendez vous with Simon Marcel and Kim Iverson.
“We talk about love and relationships. We air nightly on 30 stations including Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami.”
What has been your most memorable moment on air?
“The first call I ever got. The first phone call said Welcome to American talk radio, Simon. The guy, Jim from North Homestead, Ohio, called me during my first show. He said, ‘Glad to have you here and thank you for paying respect to World War II veterans.’ That was my first caller as a radio talk show host. Many people have called me and told me stories, but that was the most memorable. For me, I didn’t know anybody was going to call so when he called me, I felt great and I will never forget it.”
Who is your biggest role model?
“My parents are my biggest role models. Then, my grandfather, Marcel Bleustein who started an advertising company in Paris years ago. He constantly told me go for it. Also, the first person who gave me my radio job, Kevin Metheny. If it were not for him, I don’t think anyone else would have said yes to me with no experience.”
Are there any other talk radio personalities you like?
“I like my co-host Kim Iverson. She’s a lot of fun. I never met her before we were put together at the station. I am a huge admirer of many other radio hosts. You may not agree with me, but I think Rush Limbaugh is a genius the way he handles his show. I think George Noory from Coast to Coast at Night is another great one. I think Delilah at Night is a great success. Howard Stern, of course. But there are many hosts nobody knows, local guys that do a great jobs, too. I admire all the people who have a personality, even if I don’t agree with them, or their politics. I just find their shows so entertaining I don’t want to hang up.”
Is there a celebrity you would like to give relationship advice to?
“I don’t really give advice to celebrities. But I’m a huge fan of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. I love the fact that they don’t care. I love their interracial relationship. The one thing I would like to say to Kanye as a guy is that I believe in the preciousness of privacy and there are some things that are just for Kim and just for Kanye. Some of the selfies of Kim are beautiful. She is well-built, but those should be for Kanye’s eyes only. Privacy and intimacy aren’t ugly words and it may be time not to forget that.”
What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a talk show host?
“If you’re more interested in other people’s opinions than your own, you’ll be a great talk show host! If you just want to talk about yourself, you will fail. The greatest talk show hosts talk about other people, and the things that matter to other people. Not self-centered issues. That is the key to a good show. You can talk about yourself, I do that sometimes, if you fall in love or have a breakup. But every topic is something which my listeners can relate to.”
What would you like to see for the future of your show?
“My dream is that one day I’ll have 1 million listeners a night. And I’ll be on 1 hundred stations including NYC and LA. That is my ambition and my dream. I think Kim Iverson and I have the same dream. Alissa Pollack of I Heart Media is the godmother of the show, she’s the one always pushing the show and doing everything she can to help the show. “
Are there any other projects you’re currently working on that you can share?
“I am working on a project for television that is going to be about relationships. I can’t say more at this stage, but it is another one my dreams. I’m also working on my first book about my radio show adventures. I’ve taken a lot of notes over these last 8 years.”