A week ago, the Board of Directors of the most popular radio station in Russia decided to completely liquidate it.
And on February 14, my friend Alexander Sergeevich Shcherbakov passed away. He was the executive secretary of the Journalist magazine, which was very special in the USSR, where in the 60-70s materials were printed that were not and could not be in the Soviet press. Then - executive secretary and deputy chief editor in the legendary "Spark" of the perestroika era. When, in the late 90s, Ogonyok began to fade, he and the editor-in-chief Lev Gushchin went to Literaturnaya Gazeta and in 1999-2000 supported the reputation of Literaturka as a democratic publication.
And Alexander Shcherbakov was one of the founders of the most popular radio station in Russia. He came up with the name - "Ekho Moskvy" ("Echo of Moscow").
On the anniversary days of Echo, Sasha and I kept returning to those years in conversations. And now, when both Sasha and Ekho Moskvy have passed away, I remember our conversations with sadness and sadness.
- Sasha, how did it happen that the executive secretary of the Korotichi Ogonyok became one of the founders of the radio station? Where is Kyiv and where is the elderberry? I don’t mean that Korotich comes from Kyiv...
- In my life there were several events and cases that, it seems to me, justify its existence ... In the spring of 1990, a man who introduced himself as Grigory Aronovich Kliger called me at the editorial office. And he asked: “Tell me, does it bother you that in our country foreigners open radio stations one after another - Europe Plus, Nostalgie? Are we really not able to create at least one new radio station of our own?”
“Write about it, and we will publish it,” I answered impatiently, because I was in a hurry to “butt” somewhere with the adversaries of that time - either to the publishing department of the Central Committee of the CPSU, or to the State Committee for Publishing.
"No, that's not what I'm talking about," Kliger said. “Why don’t you, Ogonyok, make a new station with us?” - "With us - this is with whom?" - “With the “Association of Radio”. - "Well, then come and talk", - I said, knowing that most of the projectors are not at the meetings.
Kliger came and told... The decision to allocate a frequency for broadcasting was taken by the State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company and the Ministry of Communications, and the technical support was provided by an organization called the Radio Association. Its head Vladimir Gurevich Buryak and his deputy Grigory Aronovich Kliger then thought...
“We hid one frequency”, - Kliger said. - If you quickly create "content" and release it on the air, they will not be able to take it back. But time is running out, there are a lot of interested people with big money, and soon they can get to the bottom of this frequency..."
The story was tied up quite in the spirit of the then "Spark". I immediately went to Lev Gushchin, the first deputy chief editor. He did not think for a minute: "Of course we do". And it spun.
- Sasha! But it's darkness. Didn't you have enough trouble? I remember well what hissing “Spark” caused from different sides.
- Adventure in its purest form! Buryak and Kliger have already visited both Moskovskie Novosti and Argumenty i Fakty - they all refused. They almost laughed at them: they say, who starts the creation of a radio station with such running around, and not with the decision of the Central Committee of the CPSU?
- That is, there was not enough courage, energy, pressure?
- May be…
However, these are abstract concepts. We know that a lot depends on the individual. And you, forgive me, do not look like a battering ram that kicks iron bureaucratic doors with its forehead. Or are there devils in the still waters?
- It's not about me. “AiF” (Argumenty i Fakty - editor's note) is still a specific publication, “MN”, despite its loud fame, was read mainly in Moscow and Leningrad.
- Yes, I was in those years in a distant regional city, and I found out that MN is sold at retail only in one Soyuzpechat kiosk - in the building of the regional party committee, and the kiosk girl has a short list of people who are allowed to buy...
- And "Spark" could no longer be limited - a circulation of 5 million! And every issue was read by more than one person. Mountains of letters! Choose and print - and it will be in the nerve of life! As Valya Yumashev (in 1987 - 1996 columnist, deputy editor-in-chief, director of Ogonyok CJSC, in 1997 - 1998 head of the presidential administration of the Russian Federation. - S.B.) said, "Spark" began to read from letters. So this was the energy of Ogonyok: we are not on our own - tens of millions of readers are behind us. That's what the "ram" was.
By that time, thanks to the courage, diplomatic skills of Vitaly Korotich, his good relations with Gorbachev and, especially, with the main ideologist, Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Alexander Yakovlev, Ogonyok could print almost everything. Just then, we began the struggle for freedom with the propaganda department and the publishing department of the Central Committee of the CPSU - legal, organizational, financial freedom. After all, all the money from our huge circulation went to the budget of the CPSU. To me (why - this is a separate story) the editors instructed...
No, tell me why you...
- Elementary Watson! Vitaly Alekseevich Korotich is a man of the world, and he himself could not vouch for where in the world he would be the day after tomorrow. His first deputy, Lev Gushchin, also had many concerns abroad. And having got involved in "military operations" with the Central Committee and with the State Committee for Publishing, it was no longer possible to take your hand off the pulse of events. If you miss your opponent's move, you'll be wasted, given our, in general, legal and economic deafness.
With the approval of Gushchin, I brought to the editorial office a team of lawyers headed by Mikhail Fedotov - Levon Grigoryan, Nikolai Isakov, Inessa Denisova, Olga Gyurjan. (Mikhail Fedotov, Yuri Baturin and Vladimir Entin were then working on our first Press Law - S.B.). Every Wednesday we gathered in the editorial office and developed the country's first charter of a mass media independent of the authorities. And when we registered Ogonyok and announced the first independent publication in the country, a stream of congratulatory telegrams hit the editorial office. Victory!
- It's clear, after that you weren't even a brother. Not like organizing a radio station.
- That's it. But the highly experienced Buryak and Kliger wisely decided: the capital authorities should be woven into this undertaking. They called the founders of the Moscow City Council of People's Deputies. Lev Gushchin, using his extensive Moscow connections, organized the necessary meetings, and we wandered around the offices, collecting signatures, petitions, and so on. And also our Buryak and Kliger involved the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University in the circle of associates. The whole company met once a week in the office of Dean Yasen Nikolaevich Zasursky...
- And this is a fantasy! In the office of our patriarch, there was no place even for one person - everything was littered with papers, books, filings.
- Yes, this is the most picturesque office I have ever seen. But we still fit in there, each raked a place for himself and guarded it. And almost everyone wrote their own concept of a new radio. Scientists from the faculty - on a solid theoretical basis and on many pages. I'm on a page and a half called "Everyone has the right to be heard." At that time, we knew about mobile phones from science fiction, I developed the idea of conducting street reports from booths of public telephones. And when I now hear how an ingenuous gorilloid says on the air to the editor-in-chief of "Echo ..." Alexei Venediktov: "You were bought by the US State Department and international Zionism", I am overcome with evil and at the same time - a sense of legitimate satisfaction. I smile: "Everyone has the right to be heard." How many live programs do we remember where calls are not screened first? Although, of course, I also understand Venedikt's sad lamentation: “I am very upset by the injustice of listeners in relation to the radio and I am very pleased with their justice. I wish there was more justice." Don't wait, Alexey Alekseevich! We have no other people for you...
- And that's why there were gorilloids on the air of "Echo of Moscow" on a regular basis?
- Well, it's the editor's job. I still believe that everyone has the right to be heard.
- But you, Korotich and Gushchin did not allow gorilloids into Ogonyok and Litgazeta... So you were undemocratic?
- A moot point. Each editorial office has the right to print or not print, invite or not invite certain persons to air. But if we talk about those times, then ... As the then Ogonkovite, and later another editor-in-chief of Ogonyok, Volodya Chernov, liked to repeat, the editorial office was like a commando detachment with the task of blowing up an absolutely impregnable bridge. Could the guard of the bridge be in the detachment? .. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, it was the time of the establishment of glasnost. The slogan "Everyone has the right to be heard" was fully consistent with the principles of publicity. Alas, in the current state of the Russian media, the realization of this motto again can only be dreamed of. Although I personally do not like, for example, neither Leontiev nor Prokhanov, who have been grazing in the fields and meadows of Ekho Moskvy for quite a long time, I will by no means throw a stone at the radio station for their dense views.
- Understandably. But back to 1990. Frequency is frequency, and the ether is made by people.
There is also an interesting story here. Just in those days, Buryak and Kliger were driving to the deputy chairman of the State Radio and Television, turned on the receiver in the car on the wave of the Soviet Foreign Broadcasting and heard a penetrating, absolutely French, charming male voice. “Dense, with overtones,” Vladimir Gurevich described. “I don’t know what he was talking about, but I believed him immediately and unconditionally.” After discussing technical problems with the deputy chairman, the guests asked: who just spoke in French in such a beautiful voice? "Oh," said the Vice President. “If beautiful, then this is Seryozha Korzun.” - "And what kind of journalist is he?", - when leaving, the cunning radio operators asked. "Professional!", - answered the interlocutor.
“Korzun should be taken as editor-in-chief!”, - Buryak told us with conviction.
The next day a tall young man with a somewhat tense look came to see me at Ogonyok.
"Sergey Korzun", - he introduced himself.
The voice was indeed divine... In general, in May 1990, we in Zasursky's office appointed Seryozha Korzun as editor-in-chief. After that, Buryak and Kliger began to demand every day - go on the air! Why, we're not registered yet! But it doesn't matter, they answer, it is necessary to stake out the frequency. If it is taken away, there will be nothing to register. And then everything ran into a problem - the radio station has no name. How to leave without a name?
- Nobody, nothing and no way to call.
- That's it. Seryozha Korzun, as soon as we appointed him, literally a minute later said: “The station will be called Radio-M. Why? Answer: "I don't know, but that's what I hear."
“Well, nonsense,” Buryak dismissed. - The name has long been: "Radio-ST" (in Latin letters: "Radio-ST"). - "Why?" "Because it's good and right".
That's the whole story. Vladimir Gurevich came to my office the next day. “We have such a technique,” he said, “the reverb is called. It gives a wonderful effect. I can directly hear the announcer announce: “This is radio ST!” And the echo, fading, repeats for a long time: "Este ... este ... este." Awesome! In addition, we have the Moscow City Council among the founders, and ST can be deciphered as "Radio Capital" ...
And Serezha Korzun stands his ground: "Radio-M"!
And the day came when there was no time for disputes anymore, it began to depend on the presence of a name - to be or not to be a station? I scribbled on a piece of paper, fantasized about the themes "ST" and "M": STolitsa, STalker, STudio, Metropolis, Mosaic, Monitor, Montecristo, etc.
Without inventing anything worthwhile, with a swollen head, I went to the subway on household chores. But, apparently, the words of Buryak settled in the subconscious: echo, echo, echo ... Driving over the Moscow River, he made a discovery: “ST” is not two letters, but four sounds (e; s; t; e). Therefore, they can be deciphered, say, like this: STE - Capital Echo. Or: EST - Echo of the capital. And the letter "M" ... is the sound "E" and the sound "M". That is... "Echo of Moscow"!
I got out of the metro, wrote down the words on a piece of paper and called Korzun from the machine: “Sergey Lvovich! "Radio-M" is Radio Ekho Moskvy ("Echo of Moscow"_!
- So, you are the person who invented the "Ekho Moskvy".
- No, the station was invented by Vladimir Gurevich Buryak and Grigory Aronovich Kliger. And I'm just a name.
- As you call the boat - so it will float...
- Not really. The turning point was 1994. Remember, many of our friends and comrades were at the helm of the media. On the wave of enthusiasm, glasnost and perestroika, freedom of speech. But then, in practical life, they turned out to be mugs and lost the steering wheel, and with it the principles of responsible journalism. But the captains of "Echo of Moscow" - no. They then competently carried out corporatization, which repelled the upcoming attacks of pirates.
And, without losing their professional dignity, they brought the ship "Echo of Moscow" to our times.
I remember that in the first year of the life of the station, Sergei Korzun (or maybe the director) called me and said that they lacked 100,000 rubles for urgent repairs. The accounting department of Ogonyok transferred the money the next day. Retroactively signed a contract for the on-air advertising of the magazine. Ogonyok did not need advertising at that time. What we said to Echo. But no, soon a pretty girl came to me, brought me to listen to three or four videos. The texts were good, with humor. The girl was happy: “Oh, we were afraid that you would not like it.” I remember a musical joke that sounded on the wave of the station for more than a year: “And while the boy could see beyond the fogs, “Spark” lay on the window on the girl’s everything.
And later, when "Ekh" needed to concentrate a block of shares, the Ognikovites ceded their block to him
If the broadcasting tapes from the days of the August putsch of 1991 were preserved in the archive of the radio station, then there is such a message: “Alexander Shcherbakov called us from Ogonyok and said: if Ekho Moskvy is closed, then Ogonyok will accept all employees of the radio station in its staff ". It was clear that if the GKChP won, Ogonyok had a much better chance of surviving than the young, crazy Echo... And even earlier, at the time of the Vilnius events, when Echo... Oktyabrskaya street, house 7, to shake hands with colleagues, to cheer them up. I like to think: "Spark" of that time, as it were, handed over to "Echo ..." the baton of journalistic honesty, courage, and talent.
Photo from the archive of A.S. Shcherbakov and G.A. Kliger