MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Who knew that one insect could have such a dramatic effect?
(Soundbite of music)
Earlier this month, during the nightly news program Watan on state TV in Turkmenistan, a cockroach made its way onto the anchor desk. The cockroach proceeded to take an extended running tour of the desk, apparently unnoticed by the news anchor.
The program was aired again the next morning, and heads rolled. The ministry of culture fired some 30 employees - editors, directors, cameramen and technical staff. Again, 30 employees fired all because of one wayward cockroach.
Apparently, it's part of a mission by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow to revamp national television in Turkmenistan.
Now, we get this information from the news Web site Kronika Turkmenistan. We tried to confirm the story by calling the Embassy of Turkmenistan here in Washington. No one picked up the phone. We did reach the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan, and they say they have people monitoring the evening news and no one has reported seeing a cockroach. So we have no clue whether the story is actually true.
But it's Friday, and we couldn't resist. I also really wanted a chance to see whether I could say that name, Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow without stumbling. So far so good.
According to an editor on our foreign desk, he avoids the name entirely. He refers to the Turkmen president as the dentist. Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow was a dentist, In fact, the former personal dentist to his predecessor. That's Saparmurat Niyazov.
Just once more, let's repeat this, 30 people fired for one cockroach on a TV. So, I'm going to ask the folks in our control room, have we ever seen a cockroach on the desk here in the studios? Never seen a cockroach. If there had been one, we don't care. We're a radio program.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.