“It just made all the difference in the world.”
Many Church members shared this sentiment, expressed by Bishop Robert L. Deaver of the Kinston Second Ward, Kinston North Carolina Stake as he described his feelings about viewing the October 1982 general conference by satellite transmission. After years of receiving little or no conference coverage through their local media, members in 404 locales in the United States were at last able to view conference proceedings from beginning to end, on a giant screen and in living color.
The satellite dish installations are to be a permanent feature of general conference. It is estimated that about 250,000 members saw this past conference via satellite receiver units.
Bishop Deaver, for one, recognized immediate advantages of the new system. “I had very seriously considered going to Salt Lake for general conference this time,” he said. “But after discussing it with my wife, I elected to stay here in North Carolina, because we were in essence getting everything that I could have gotten out there, except the atmosphere. In fact, viewing the large screen is almost better than actually being in the Tabernacle, because you’ve got that bird’s eye view—ten feet wide and eight feet tall. It provides a tremendous spirit to be able to see those brethren up there talking.”
In Ohio, similar feelings were voiced. John A. Taylor, high councilor in the Cincinnati Ohio Stake, reflected that the visual transmission seemed to improve individuals’ powers of concentration. “I think it’s obvious,” he said, “that when you are sitting listening to audio only, sometimes it’s hard to be totally attentive, and your mind wanders. But when you can actually see the picture, see people talking and the expression on their faces, you can concentrate to a much greater extent and get a good deal more benefit from being there.”
Southern California has received limited conference coverage over the past few years, with members’ only vehicle being the sideband radio. With satellite transmission to Orange Stake, said Kit Poole, multiregion public communications director for Orange County, “people are just thrilled. We had a full capacity at our stake center.” She added that one of the great advantages of the new satellite system will likely be that “people are going to get onto the idea of taking their nonmember friends with them to these meetings. It will be a real plus for the missionary effort.”
“We see a great future for the Church in these satellite transmissions,” added John M. Wright, first counselor in the Boston Massachusetts Stake. “After so many years of very limited television coverage, we can now see conference all the way through. This is going to be a very positive thing in the lives of the members.”
Guy Piersall, Portland Oregon multiregion public communications director, noted that the satellite transmission in his stake was reported on a local television news broadcast. “The news people,” he said, “commented on the exceptional clarity and quality of the transmission. They were very impressed. Everyone here was thrilled to be able to see all the sessions, because we’ve had only the audio portion in previous years.” He added that “since gathering for the welfare session at 6:00 A.M. was a little difficult,” that session was videotaped and replayed at a special Sunday evening fireside.
Some stakes in those areas in the United States slated to receive satellite dishes have not yet received them, but it is anticipated that they will be in place before the next general conference of the Church in April 1983.