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Remembering Mike Shuster

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

NPR's Mike Shuster was listening to an East German bureaucrat in divided Berlin drone on in 1989 when he heard him say, almost offhand, the wall is open. I realized Mike told NPR's Talk Of The Nation when he left NPR in 2013, this was going to be the most extraordinary story in my lifetime.

Mike died this week at the age of 76. He covered a lot of extraordinary stories - John Gotti's trial, complete with some choice expletives from FBI wiretaps, both Gulf Wars, wars in Kosovo and Bosnia. He reported from Israel on the Second Intifada, the withdrawal from Gaza and the war with Lebanon. He made many trips to Iran and was there for the 2009 election and Green Wave protests that followed.

Peter Breslow, a longtime NPR field producer, recalled this week how Mike wrote his story about the 1991 coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev in the backseat of a cab as they raced to the Moscow bureau. It was elegantly written and perfectly laid out, Peter recalled.

Mike Shuster was a good man to share tough assignments - rock steady, wise and wry. We were in Saudi Arabia one of the first nights of the first Gulf War, when air raid sirens wailed. We went down into a basement shelter, bracing for booms and bombs. We looked at the ceiling, then across the room at one another, nervously, silently. Then Mike opened a book. He looked up once and smiled. At last, said Mike Shuster, we get a little time to concentrate. We thank him, and we'll miss him.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. 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.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.