Giles S. Gianelloni's foray into broadcasting lasted exactly one day.
His first and only scoop: an interview with Fidel Castro, five days after the rebel leader declared victory in Cuba's civil war.
''He started talking,'' Gianelloni remembers, ``and I could not shut him up!''
Gianelloni, now 88, retired and living in Sarasota, is a Louisiana-born American who grew up in Havana because his dad worked for an American sugar company.
In 1958, Gianelloni was a junior executive at Punta Alegre Sugar Corp. spending New Year's Eve with friends and watching planes take off from the Camp Columbia military base outside Havana. The next morning, they learned that those strange flights carried President Fulgencio Batista and his allies, who had fled to the Dominican Republic.
Gianelloni was a pilot, and so NBC News journalist Ted Scott turned to him after New Year's Day for help tracking down Castro. The rebel leader was in eastern Cuba heading toward Havana in a caravan. Gianelloni flew the crew to Santa Clara in a quest to find Castro, who was doing something of a bell-whistle tour from city to city.
After landing in Santa Clara, they drove more than 100 miles in a borrowed convertible trying to find him.
They wound up at a military outpost, where the international media was gathered to cover the executions of Batista loyalists. Gianelloni remembers legendary photographer Robert Capa handing him a Leica and telling him to shoot.
''The walls were stained in blood and chipped at just about shoulder height,'' Gianelloni remembers. 'A priest came out to say that the executions were going to be postponed because Fidel Castro was coming. All the international reporters started shouting, `Bring them out! Shoot them!' They wanted to take the picture!
'The priest was saying, `These men are innocent!' ''
Castro did not arrive until the next day, Jan. 6, 1959. He took center stage in Santa Clara's town plaza before adoring fans.
'I said to the cameraman: `Which one of you is going to do the interview?' He said, 'You are!' '' Gianelloni said.
They handed him a microphone and pushed him onto the platform with Castro, who wore two watches and a crisp uniform.
''I guess he really wanted to know what time it was,'' Gianelloni said. ``I remember wondering who did his laundry, this supposedly being a war zone and all.''
Then someone fired a shot. Everyone ducked. Except Castro.
''He did not blink an eye,'' Gianelloni said. ``It was really extraordinary.''
Gianelloni asked Castro what the United States could do to improve relations with Cuba. And then Castro started talking.
''He started speaking in English and I could not stop him,'' he said. ``The cameraman was giving me the signal that he was out of tape.''
The crew quickly flew back to Havana so the journalists could file their story. For the record, the 1976 book Diary of the Cuban Revolution by rebel leader Carlos Franqui says the Chicago Tribune was first to interview Castro after his Jan. 1 victory.
Gianelloni stayed in Cuba until November 1960, three months after the sugar company was confiscated. He never did get paid for his interview and says he pestered producers for years to at least provide a copy of the video, which he never got.
''It's one of the reasons, that to this day,'' Gianelloni said, ``I do not watch NBC.''