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Remembering General Conference Through the Years

As vast technological advances have been made throughout the last century, members and friends of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world have enjoyed the benefits of general conference becoming more accessible. In Europe, those following the conference have not always had such easy access to the broadcasts.

Norbert Meissner, from Germany, remembers general conference when it was broadcast over a telephone line into the chapels. His parents took him and his two brothers to the stake center in Nuremberg, where they stayed all day. He was ten years old, and it was “the most boring time” for him.

“The broadcast quality was so bad,” Meissner said. “The sound was like a phone call, but not digital. It was analogue with all the disturbing noises.”

Daryl Watson, from Scotland, remembers general conference in the late 1960s when general conference was broadcast over a telephone line into the chapels.

“My family had to travel to the Edinburgh chapel about 30 miles away to listen to conference,” Watson said.

A telephone engineer had to set up a special telephone line a few days before conference, and then disconnected it again after conference. Watson’s mother struggled with this method, especially while dealing with young children.

“Often times, the line would just disconnect, too, and you wouldn’t hear anything for a while,” Watson said.

Eventually the telephone line was replaced with a radio transmission, with pictures displayed on an overhead projector of the general authority speaking. Soon it stopped in the late 1970s, and stakes would receive video tapes of conference a few weeks after each session. Special sessions were scheduled for members to attend.

Dinis Adriano, Portugal, remembers watching general conference on video tapes when he was in his late teens.

“It was Bruce R. McConkie’s farewell talk,” Dinis said. “It was at a Saturday activity and I was amazed by it. I remember listening to Elder McConkie give this powerful talk and not exactly understanding everything, but feeling the spirit in a way that I have never felt before.”

Dinis’s brother, Paulo, remembers reading the Liahona after general conference.

“There was a big delay in the process of translating into Portuguese,” Paulo said. “I remember rushing to open central pages and to see if there were major changes in the quorums.”

When satellite broadcast came around, the experience for Paulo changed “in a special way.”

“To be able to see live President Ezra Taft Benson and all of the general authorities was a unique experience,” Paulo said. He recalled also receiving video tapes. “Looking back now, it sounds funny to have to wait for two or three months to know what was shared in general conference.”

Hanno Luschin, from Germany, also remembers the satellite broadcast. He took his family to the stake center to watch every six months, and never missed it. As technology advanced in the mid-1990s, he and his family – living in England at the time – were able to adjust the small satellite dish on their home to receive the signal for general conference.

“It was always an adventure to have one of my older boys on a ladder gently turning the receiver dish on top of the house and myself checking the signal strength on the TV to get a clear picture and sound,” Luschin said.

When internet made General Conference even more accessible, Luschin began to watch general conference live at home. As he and his family moved around Europe, broadcast times would get later and later, even with Luschin watching early into the morning, sometimes ending around 5 A.M.

“Every minute was worth it,” Luschin said. He often reminds himself of times past, when it took months to transmit a message to various parts of the world.

“How blessed we are to have access to the words of the living prophets to guide us in these last days.”

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