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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Man Behind The News

For MT
Considering that "Good Morning, Russia!" claims to have 5 million viewers nationwide every morning, it's surprising that its presenter Vladislav Zavyalov is not more famous. But the 43-year-old Rossiya TV newsreader has an explanation: "I am on from 5 a.m. to 8.45 a.m. -- I don't even know anyone who's awake at that hour," he said.

Zavyalov had always wanted to be on television. When he was 6, his mother would listen to him reading his books out loud in the bath to a pretend audience. "She thought it was hilarious!" he said.

However, his life initially took a different path. Born in Rostov-on-Don, Zavyalov studied engineering in Kiev and was already a successful civil engineer when he decided to give television a go.

"They say that if you are going to make any big, life-changing decisions, you should do it on the Chinese zodiac year that you are born in and luck will be on your side," he said. "So when I was 24, it was the Year of the Dragon. I decided to call up the regional television broadcaster, in Rostov-on-Don, and speak to the film department."

Zavyalov was told there were no jobs, but was given the phone number of the channel's head director. "She must have liked something in my voice because next thing I knew I had a screen test."

Not everything ran so smoothly. After the screen test, "when I saw myself on TV for the first time, I was horrified and in absolute shock," said Zavyalov, shaking his head. "Apparently that's everyone's first reaction."

Unfortunately, the feedback from the producers was no better, and he was told to go home, practice working on his pace of speech and to read out loud every day. They said they would give him a call if something relevant‑came up, but Zavyalov was skeptical.

Six months later, he was invited for another screen test. "I was still disgusted at my appearance on screen but I got the job," he said.

The job was originally as a part-time announcer and the pay was low, but Zavyalov became a full-time newsreader on the show "Day of the Don" within two months.

Grigory Tambulov / For MT
For Vladislav Zavyalov and co-presenter Kristina Aristova, a newsreading job comes at the price of starting work at 1 a.m.
His resignation from his engineering job came as no surprise.

"They saw me on the television at work," he said. "In the '80s, the television industry was a little bit magical, and they were proud."

People started to recognize him.

"At first it was flattering, but after a while it got to be too much," he said. "I always had to dress up just to go out with friends and people at restaurants would whisper and point at me. I didn't like it."

Zavyalov has been working for the Rossiya channel since 1998 and says his favorite part of the job is "getting the news first-hand and delivering it to an audience." However, he is easily frustrated.

"When the material they give you is raw and badly edited, I lose my temper very quickly. I hate making mistakes, especially on air."

His co-presenter, Kristina Aristova, agreed. "Slava is very demanding to work with, most of all on himself," she said, using Zavyalov's nickname. "When he does lose his temper he'll be the first to apologize. ... Because he is such a perfectionist, I can completely rely on him."

Their work schedule is tough. During a working week, Zavyalov is picked up from his home at midnight, and starts work preparing and editing the information at 1 a.m. He is on air from 5 a.m. until 8.45 a.m. and gets home at about 10 a.m.

"You can never sleep nine hours straight during the day like you can at night," he said. "You are pretty much invisible to friends and family because even if you are awake, you are too tired to see them."

Zavyalov's advice is to "be your own harshest critic."

"In Soviet times, they didn't let just anyone get on TV like they do now; you have to be tough on yourself or you won't improve."

While Zavyalov loves his job, he only plans to stay in front of the camera for another five years. "I know in the West, news shows like their presenters to age on camera, as the audience trusts them more. But for me, I want to leave while I'm at my peak."