Back in the USSR

•  Fresh new evidence shows the Billy Joel trip was no Russia hoax.

  Good Morning America introduces a new – and “special” – correspondent

•  Some really awful music, through some really awful transmissions

When I wrote about The Piano, Man, in Russia last year, the blog post was mostly words and photos; just one brief clip from a documentary. (Go ahead, read it if you haven’t . . re-read if you have. I’ll wait here.)

Now, though, I have found the two packages I did for Good Morning America, the pieces that launched my network TV debut.

First, the overview on how Glasnost and Perestroika were spurring interest in home-grown Russian rock music:

Some of that Russian rock was pretty painful to listen to, perhaps deliberately so in some cases. It didn’t help that the audio and video footage had to be sent back to the US of A by transmission methods involving format conversions and a satellite feed from Moscow’s landmark Ostankino Tower.

When I first documented the trip, I forgot about my visit to the weird Moscow TV tower to feed video to ABC in New York. I recall taking an elevator to the technical studios high in the structure. I remember it being dark inside and seemingly unchanged since its construction in the early ‘60s. Some of the aging wiring in the place, in fact, was blamed for an electrical fire in 2000 that killed three people.

And here, again in all its blurry haze, is the piece I did on Billy Joel’s opening night:

You may have noticed the package aired on GMA without any mention of the piano-toppling “tantrum” Billy supposedly threw. So the update that I had to be roused out of bed to do after the AP decided it was the big story was apparently just done to the radio news voicers I had filed. And I may have done that from my hotel room, not from the Moscow bureau of ABC News in the middle of the night as I had written in 2019. Any of my former ABC News colleagues who get this far in this narrative: your input on this would help set my memory straight.

As I’ve noted before, upon my return from the Soviet Union, GMA offered a contract, changing me from “special” correspondent to just a . . regular correspondent.

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