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Eventful but successful first day in Moscow

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It’s Thursday morning, 04:30 in the UK, 07:30 in Moscow. Today’s blog is coming from my hotel bed. Last night we broadcast our first programme on the IAAF Radio stream. It was a 30 minute preview show containing interviews with athletes, officials and even volunteers working on the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow. It may not seem a big thing to say “last night we broadcast our first programme” but believe me to reach this point has been a challenge.

I was welcomed to Moscow by a particularly unhappy customs officer who dragged me to the bowels of the airport. My forms were checked and checked again and fierce conversations took place. Eventually, without any kind of smile, my documents were returned and I was on my way…. only to be checked 10 minutes later by another customs officer. 

Traffic in Moscow is unbelievable and seems to be particularly bad near our hotel. The journey from the airport to the hotel took approximately 2 hours and was accompanied by a mix of 90s Techno music and the occasional failed attempt by the driver to discuss football with me. 

So to my first morning in Moscow. I was pleased to be welcomed by sunshine – always a pleasure to see – because nobody, but nobody, likes to rig equipment and cables in the rain. On arriving at the stadium I was welcomed by what was probably the most organised and efficiently run broadcast centre I’ve seen to date. More importantly our meeting room was well stocked with water and chocolate – a perfect diet in my eyes. 

It took some time to find my broadcast position: there are something like 2000 accredited broadcasters here and most of them need a seat in the stadium. Everyone has assigned positions and mine was labelled “99”. I don’t know if it’s punishment for liking the occasional chocolate – but I tend to find that my position always requires taking the most steps. It will be no lie to tell you that I was exhausted by the time I reached 99. 

Again, good news: my ISDN line (digital circuit for broadcasting back to London) had been installed. And I was promised by Patrick in the CCR (control room) that cabling was being installed that would connect me to “International Sound” (sound effects of the athletics) and the “Mixed Zone” (where our interviews will take place with post-race athletes). Everything was going smoothly.

It would be interesting to tell you a horror story – but unfortunately the rig went perfectly. It was a long day of running cables, pulling myself around on my hands and knees, but nearly everything seems to be working. I’m pleased with some of my innovations this year but I’ll save the technical details for a future blog entry. As I write this I’m still waiting for two things: power in the Mixed Zone and internet in the commentary position. If your name is Patrick and you work in CCR in Moscow please take this has a reminder.

And now to the programme itself. Working with a mostly French team from IAAF a lot can be lost in translation. I don’t think anybody was particularly clear about what our first preview programme would contain and how it was going to be made. An impromptu production meeting cleared up any issues but unfortunately meant that Sam was forced to return from a brief day off to record some inserts for me in Cardiff. Sam I know you’ll read this so please accept my sincere thanks for stepping in to present the first programme.

With the help of my TV colleagues and from our first reporter onsite Garfield Samuels we managed to make a really good first programme. It was a fairly tight turnaround – starting production at 1pm for a 7pm transmission. I edited a load of audio interviews, bashed out a script and sent it over to Sam to read. By 5pm I had her audio back in Moscow and had the show finished by 6:30. This left half-an-hour to tackle the steps to position 99 before transmission to London at 7pm.

The rest of the team have arrived now and I’m about to head to a big production meeting where we’ll plan tonight’s preview programme – but don’t leave Cardiff just yet Sam. 

Micky ‘MC’ Curling


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