I have run the gamut of General Conference experiences. Growing up in England we used to watch General Conference on videotape. I remember hardly anything, except that we had these small TVs set up in the chapel that had old men talking on them. I also remember the colour brown (think old skool BCC). Whether we watched all sessions on tape or just one of them, or even a kind of Greatest Hits version, I don’t know.
Then, in the early 1990s, something amazing happened.
The Church began beaming Conference to Europe by satellite. This was strange because none of our buildings had dishes yet, and the satellite it was carried on was some obscure thing called TelStar (or some such) that nobody who actually had satellite TV pointed to. Except Phil that is, a guy in our Ward who had a big moveable dish. So a select few went around to his house to watch GC. The picture quality was abominable, full of “snow” and crackles, but it was a thrill to see the Prophet and other leaders speak live for the first time in our lives. I remember cycling up the hill to Phil’s house feeling very “religious.” As I watched people go by in their cars I wanted to stop them and shout, “a living prophet is going to be speaking on TV. Come and see!” I didn’t, of course, but that was how full my heart was.
One summer as a teenager, I went with my parents on holiday around the American West. We had the 1987 (I think) GC on audiotape, and listened to it as we drove through weird places like Ludlow, California. In some ways I will always associate Conference with Ezra Taft Benson and the desert.
Since then, my GC experiences have been less “pioneering.” Conference is now broadcast in digital quality across Europe. In the US I watched it on TV in my pajamas. I’ve even been to a live session in Salt Lake. But nothing beats those early days when we were perhaps only a handful of people east of the Atlantic who watched Conference live. We felt special.
Now it’s on the internet and any old geezer can participate. Bah! What’s next, Conference on the road?