I love Conference. I love Conference weekend. Most of all, this weekend I love BYU-TV. For the first time since we moved from Utah, we're able to watch General Conference right on our very own TV at home. Our local cable company finally picked it up and we are rejoicing one and all. Much as I'd root for the Utes over BYU any day, I am grateful that BYU-TV has grown into a channel that even a cable company in Wisconsin feels is worth picking up.
Growing up in western Oklahoma, we used to listen to General Conference via what they called "direct wire broadcast." I believe they rigged up some kind of radio connection through the phone lines at church. (I was a kid at the time; I may have the technical details all wrong.) So we would dress in our Sunday clothes, go to church, and listen to disembodied voices speak to us for hours on end. Looking back, it was truly a blessing for us to be able to receive this. However, it was tough to stay interested when you couldn't see what was going on. I remember drawing lots of things and playing quietly with other kids in the back of the room where we received the broadcast. (Sometimes we weren't too quiet.)
Then one year the NFL went on strike. Miracle of miracles, someone in our branch knew the owner of a local bar--who wasn't using his satellite dish and large-screen TV because there were no football games to show at the bar--and we got to use them to watch Conference. (They took them to the church; we didn't use them at the bar.) What an amazing day that was! I remember that all of us were so excited to actually be able to see the Conference proceedings, see the speakers, and see the Tabernacle and the choir and the surrounding beauty in the outdoor shots. Not many years later, our branch received its own satellite dish and the arrangement was permanent.
Our first Conference in Utah several years later seemed almost odd. The idea of being able to just turn on your TV and watch all these spiritual talks begin given was just, well, weird. But we got used to it. Maybe even too used to it. When we moved away from Utah nine years later, Conference was by then available by Internet streaming. And like good little Utahns used to watching Conference at home, we stubbornly strung wires through the house and continued to listen from home. We learned that while lds.org only does live audio streaming, you can get live video streaming from byutv.com. It's kind of blocky, and things can easily go wrong with the connection, but if you don't mind sitting around your computer you can watch Conference that way. So we did.
And I've got to admit that once again I'm grateful to BYU for making BYU-TV available online. Even though our cable company didn't see fit until recently to make it part of our package, we've still always been able to view Conference and talks from Women's Conference and other shows of that nature. (And U of U/BYU gymnastics meets.)
But today, we've got BYU-TV on our very own television. And we watched Conference at home. No problems at all. And it's become something of a ritual, or a holiday. It's the first weekend in October. It's Conference weekend. And no matter where we are, no matter what setup we have, we go and watch Conference.