To quote the title of an ol’ Beatles’ song, we are going “Back to the USSR” in this and the next Throwback Thursday articles. What prompted this revisit to the land of the bear? Since the presidential election, the land of the bear has been cast as either friend or foe to the United States. So we thought it might be interesting to travel back in time to 1982 when the USSR was under communist rule and then to 1992 – just a few weeks after the USSR was dissolved.
In 1982, WRAL dispatched a news crew to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, formerly known as Russia. Ten years later, another WRAL news crews went to Russia, formerly known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Both trips were made to chronicle a NC Friendship Force visit to the region.
The timing of the two trips captured two monumental times in the history of that storied nation. In November 1982, Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, had just died when the NC Friendship Force and WRAL arrived in Moscow. The nation was quite jittery as to who would be their next leader. The apprehension was palpable.
The 1982 trip by former WRAL news reporter Shelly Kofler and former WRAL news photographer Bruce Wittman was retold in the Throwback Thursday article posted on February 26, 2015. We titled the article, “Free the Ikegami.” Ikegami is a brand name of a video camera. WRAL’s camera was impounded upon arrival at the airport in Moscow.
We recently found the video reports mentioned in that article in our video digital archives. Below you will find links to the Throwback Thursday article and links to Kofler and Wittman’s eight part series.
In our next Throwback Thursday article, we will travel along with former News anchor Donna Gregory and photographer Jay Jennings when they accompanied the NC Friendship Force to Russia in 1992.
Click on the following links to watch the eight part series of stories that aired in 1982.
CBC History VIDEO: News Coverage of NC Friendship Force visit to USSR, 1982:
- Part 1 – Arrival Problems
- Part 2 – Leningrad Cementary
- Part 3 – Soviet Schools
- Part 4 – Churches
- Part 5 – Consumer Goods
- Part 6 – Housing Conditions
- Part 7 – Home Visits
- Part 8 – Soviet Wages
Thanks to Corp’s Pam Allen for this capcom story & these photos. Pam Parris Allen is a former WRAL newscast producer/director who now works as a researcher and producer on the CBC History Project.