Frank Thoms


Feb 12, 2023 by Frank Thoms

The front of my Motorola had a dark-brown-glazed, plastic Venetian design; hidden openings let out the sound. Late at night, I would spin the right-hand knob, sliding its red-line dial at the top behind clear plastic. Stations having static slid by until I came to WROW 590 AM in Albany or WTRY 980 AM in Troy, broadcasting from New York over the Taconic Ridge. No presets, nothing automatic, and no worries except Mom, who might discover my late-night listening to The Inner Sanctum or The Jack Benny Show. The radio was mine and sat in its special place on the shelf by my pillow. And I discovered Radio Moscow, fascinated more by where it broadcasted from than with its content, which made little sense to me.

I can’t say that discovering Radio Moscow led me there. But combined with vivid images of the red Soviet Union on Weekly Reader wall maps (only color on the map) in my fourth and fifth grade classrooms, the lure of tsarist Russian history in college, and twenty-five years teaching about Marxism, Russian history, and Communism in the Soviet Union to eighth graders, I was more than eager in October, 1985, for my first two-week trip, the first of eight ventures, nearly a year of my life, between 1985-1994. I can’t wait to go back some day!