Simon Says…

French-American radio host Simon Marcel Badinter talks travel, fashion, and, of course, romance.

By Rachel Sokol

They say men fall in love with their eyes and women fall in love with their ears. Armed with this knowledge, when a colleague told Simon Marcel Badinter that his smooth and suave French accent belonged on the radio in the United States; Simon couldn’t disagree.

Today, Simon co-hosts the seductive show The Rendez vous with Simon and Kim, a nightly radio experience (part of iHeartMedia) filled with insightful relationship advice and intelligent sex talk.

The engaging two-hour show takes questions from callers nationwide and is integrated with your station’s local playlist. Launched in 2013 on My Talk 107 in Minneapolis, The Rendez vous with Simon and Kim is now broadcast on 13 stations; its biggest markets are Miami, Tampa, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Chicago.

Simon’s radio partner/co-host is the sassy Kim Iverson, and if you can’t catch The Rendez vous live, you can always listen to past shows online at simonandkimshow.com.

As we ease into a brand new year, Millennium Magazine asked Simon—who currently resides in the Midwest but travels often—about love, luck, and living the American dream. Read on to learn more about the Paris native.

MM: Tell us what makes “The Rendez vous with Simon and Kim” so different from other radio shows. Also, what’s it like working with Kim?

SMB: Our radio show on iHeart Media, which airs Monday to Friday nights, is unique because it’s the only radio show in America where “French romance meets American reality” relating to all topics and dilemmas of love and relationships. Kim and I have a great chemistry both on and off air, with two very different, very strong personalities. Kim was raised by a single parent, her loving father, in Boise, Idaho. She’s in her early thirties, strong, Type “A”. She’s a smart, independent, single American woman who is not afraid of telling it like it is! She knows the game. Kim is one of the most down-to-earth, realistic women I know. I’m in my mid-forties and from Paris. I was raised by my wonderful parents who have been together for 50 years. It’s their example that has considerably influenced the way I feel and react about love, romance, life, relationships and so on.

My parent’s love gave me my joy of life, aka “ma joie de vivre.” When our listeners call us, they know they will find two different viewpoints and answers to their own dilemmas. Kim and I are good friends on and off the air, and that is the secret of the radio show. Listeners appreciate that our show is a true, fun, and honest, insightful conversation with your friends Kim and me.

MM: Although national, your radio show is quite popular in Florida. Why do you think that is?

SMB: Our show has been very successful in Miami and Tampa, and other Florida cities, from day one. Perhaps it’s due to the natural chemistry between the French culture and accent and the Spanish one, as well as the South American influence of the Floridian way of life. I love the unique energy, and the passion for life in Florida’s major cities. I believe many of our listeners in Florida relate to the same passion, and our own way of life we have back in France. Additionally, they relate well to The Rende vous, and our hot debates at night. Florida is a great part of show, and we love the passionate debates with our listeners and callers from The Sunshine State. Viva Miami!

MM: What’s your favorite topic to talk about on-air?

SMB: When a caller asks us if it’s possible to give—or not—a second chance to someone they love. For me, that is the most important decision in any relationship. We all make mistakes, and the question is real : “Should I forgive and give this person a second chance or not ?” I believe in most cases that defines the depth of the relationship, and also the answer to the following question: Is forgiveness the ultimate proof of true love in your relationship?

MM: Traveling is an important part of your life. Can you tell me what you love the most about your favorite cities?

SMB: Miami: The weather, the ocean, the beautiful art deco architecture, the beach, the delicious restaurants, and the unique party atmosphere at night. I love visiting Miami and Florida, and, of course, our Miami radio station My93.9.

New York: It’s madness! The city that never sleeps. The city where I am always upbeat and motivated to work harder.

France: It’s beautiful art of living , “l’art de vivre,” its pace of life, its history, Paris, of course, but also the south of France, and the very old little villages where a small unknown church can be so beautiful, and clearly the “non-politically correct” attitude about life in general. It’s the root of my identity.

Chicago: It’s people, architecture, restaurants, museums, shopping and of course the beautiful Lake Michigan in summer, and my iHeart radio station 93.9 MYFM.

MM: You were working in advertising for quite some time, both in France and the U.S. How—and why—did you transition into the broadcast field?

SMB: Honestly, because of one man, the one who gave me my first on-air opportunity; my first Program Director in Cleveland, Ohio. It was the late Kevin Metheny (Editor’s Note: Howard Stern often called Metheny “Pig Vomit” ) of WTAM 1100 who said, “Yes” in 2007 when I asked him to give me a chance to do my first radio show on his station. Kevin said, “Frenchy, have you ever done a radio show before?” I said no. Kevin then asked why should he give me a chance on his popular radio show? I answered, “Because this is America! I may have a French accent, but I have been living and working in Cleveland for more than 10 years and I want to bring in my perspective on current events that are being debated. I will bring a different voice to your weekend line-up on your station.” Kevin then said, “OK Frenchy, you’ve got it! It’s crazy, but I will give you two, first shows as an audition to do on Saturday, live, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and then either I will hire you to be a weekend host every Saturday afternoon, or you will never do another show on my station.” He asked what I wanted to call my show and I replied, “The Rendez vous!” That’s how I started. As they say, “Only in America!”

MM: Let’s back up a bit. Your parents greatly influenced your life. What important life lessons have they taught you about leadership and hard work?

SMB: I owe most of who—and what—I am today to my loving parents, Elisabeth and Robert Badinter. My mother taught me so much about being daring, about never giving up, about the importance of having convictions and beliefs, and expressing those thoughts. My mom taught me a lot about the psychology of women; I admire her so much. She’s one of the most respected French feminists and intellectual thinkers in France, as well as a successful writer. My mother is a passionate researcher who always wants to know more. She loves going to the library to do her research. She also taught me to be curious, open-minded, to ask all kinds of questions, and to listen carefully to people’s answers to my questions.

My dad, Robert Badinter, is my hero. I wanted to be like him when I was younger; he’s the man in my life, who, through his example, showed me the importance of a man’s will and the power of the will. After a long, 10-year fight in court as a criminal lawyer—his goal was to save men from being sentenced to death and then cut into two pieces by the terrible French instrument of death “the guillotine—my father then abolished the death penalty and finally put an end to the guillotine in France in 1981. He also served as the Minister of Justice of France. He still always says to me “Nothing can stop one man’s will…” He encourages me to always move forward and to never give up on my goals. Both of my parents are so interesting to listen to. When I go back to Paris and see them, I realize how much I miss listening to their debates at home. I have been very lucky with my parents. I miss them often since they are in Paris and I am here. But I am happy in the U.S. This is home now.

MM: France has been through some awful tragedies lately. Do you have any special messages for the French citizens?

SMB: We have all been affected deeply by the tragedies and awful terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015. Just like how on 9/11 we were all feeling like Americans and New Yorkers, in 2015 we are all French and Parisians. The French and the Americans both have in common that, “One for all and all for one” mentality and value in life. The French will fight back, hard. So, I feel that “United we stand and stand strong” is the right way to be. I feel very proud of the French people’s reactions after the attacks.

MM: You became a U.S. citizen in 2009. Why was that so important to you?

SMB: I was born in France and raised in a Jewish family. My father saw first-hand the sinister Nazi regime capture his father in Lyon, in 1942. They sent him (my grandfather) into a concentration camp to be killed. I was always told that without the brave American soldiers of World War II who came to liberate France and save us in the summer of 1944, all of us French Jews would be dead today. (Editor’s Note: Simon’s grandfather and father survived the Holocaust) I have always dreamed of being an American citizen, having the magic prestigious blue passport, and being part of the greatest nation on earth. I’m very proud American citizen today. The day I officially became an American citizen was one of the proudest days of my life. You know there is a reason the whole world wants to emigrate here to the U.S.; it’s the fact that we all have a chance to make it. All of us have a chance once we are Americans to realize our American dream. I have been living happily in the U.S. for almost 20 years, and I would not want to live anywhere else.

MM: Your family’s life story is absolutely amazing; but let’s moves on to lighter topics. You seem very fashion-forward. What is your favorite way to dress? Favorite look? Even though no one but Kim and crew can “see” you, do you dress up for work at the studio?

SMB: I got my taste to wear handmade, tailored suits and blazers from three different men in my family: One influence was my grandfather, Marcel Bleustein Blanchet, who always had the most elegant suits. They were always classic and “old school” from a Greek tailor in Paris. He used to wear white handmade Sulka shirts. The second influence is, of course, my father Robert Badinter, who has a natural taste for masculine elegance. And then my mentor, much closer to my age, is my cousin, Nicolas Rachline. When I was around 18, Nicolas took the time to educate me on what type of suits are good for me. He coached me on what shapes and colors worked and where to have a good, handmade shirt tailored specifically for me. I used to run an advertising business in Milano, Italy in the nineties, and on the weekends, Nicolas and I would visit the grand master of tailoring in Italy, Mario Caraceni, a charismatic, extraordinary Italian older man and tailor. He made my suits and navy blue blazers, and he also educated me on what look was best for me.

My favorite way to dress when going out to dinner is still a pair of blue jeans, a white shirt or a black sweater and a leather jacket. I do not ‘dress up’ for work with Kim and our team. When on-air I dress casually, but I can still be found wearing blue jeans and maybe a T-shirt or a Polo. It all depends on the weather and my mood. The key is to dress in something that makes you feel good and to be happy with yourself. I do not follow fashion trends. I wear what I feel like wearing, and I’m happy like that. But, “to each his own style!”

MM: What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?

SMB: “Who does not dare, does not live.”

MM: You’ve been called one of the “great romantics.” Why do you think you’re romantic and as we approach Valentine’s Day; how can men be more romantic?

SMB: I owe my sense of romance to my father Robert who fell in love and married my mom 50 years ago. He said to me “When you love someone, don’t ever take your woman for granted. You have to romance her often, to romance her more, romance her again, you can never romance her enough.” So, I have learn from him what a romantic is, and his definition is always to put yourself in the shoes of your loved one and ask yourself, “What would I want from me if I were her? What would make her happy or happier today?” Being romantic is being able to express your love for the other fully, spontaneously, and genuinely without expecting something in return for it. Being romantic is doing things and paying attention to your partner every day, starting today, now, not later, but right now, because loving is caring…in the present! And here is my secret tip or advice for all the guys out there; married or in a relationship: If you want to surprise your wife, your girlfriend, or your partner, think of getting them a second surprise the morning after Valentine’s Day, because love does not stop when Valentine’s Day ends; it’s only the beginning. Get her a card, or something that you know she will love! She will be pleasantly surprised.

Lean more about The Rendez vous with Simon and Kim by visiting simonandkimshow.com, which also lists the many stations that broadcast the show. Follow Simon Marcel on Instagram at: simonmarcelbadinter and on Twitter @SimonandKim.

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