Every five years, the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist family comes together for a 10-day event called General Conference Session. At this business and spiritual gathering, Adventist World Radio has an enormous opportunity to demonstrate how we are helping accomplish our shared mission of carrying the gospel to the world.
Between July 2 and 11, we hosted a large AWR exhibit and shared exciting stories of our ministry with many of the 60,000 international attendees.
A New Way to Tell Stories
When designing our exhibit, our goal was to present key AWR highlights as creatively and engagingly as possible.
The centerpiece of that effort was our series of innovative 360° videos, which guests viewed through Oculus Rift headset and noise-cancelling headphones. This immersive experience enabled people to fully enter a scene and explore it from all angles.
• They could effortlessly travel to the top of one of our 300-foot shortwave radio towers on Guam and look straight down at the ground or out across the ocean.
• They could visit a remote village in Myanmar and stand beside a radio listener who is charging a radio with a solar-powered battery.
• They could explore alleyways in North Africa, where people are tuning in to both FM and shortwave programs.
“Putting the videos together, I was really excited to get to this point where we could actually tell people the stories of AWR,” says AWR volunteer editor Karl Da Silva. “Traditionally, with radio, you can’t see the people you may read about, but with the Oculus, people can be transported to local communities and see how people came to know Christ. It was such an amazing experience to watch the reactions of these people when they saw what AWR does.”
The videos were produced using an array of six GoPro cameras. The editing process required meticulous stitching of a large collection of footage. But the hours of work were worth it when we saw the awestruck looks on the faces of our visitors. The 360° rides were an especially big draw for young attendees, who came away with a vivid understanding of how radio travels to the most remote places of the world. The youngest viewer was five years old, while the oldest was a 98-year-old grandfather.
Visitors were initially drawn to our exhibit out of curiosity about the innovative technology. But ultimately, they stayed for – and will remember – the AWR stories.
“Trying to convey the emotion of a story is actually easier in 360, because people are completely immersed in the environment,” says Daryl Gungadoo, AWR’s global resource engineer, who spearheaded the production. “Instead of simply telling a story, this is really reinventing the way stories are told in that it gives the user the possibility of exploring.”
As a side benefit, the 360° video experience generated a high level of publicity for AWR. The stats on social media were particularly impressive: 139,251 impressions for our #AWR360 Twitter hashtag; 81,216 impressions for our @AWRweb Twitter handle; and 1,100 impressions for #IbelieveInAWR.
To learn more and take an AWR 360° ride at home, visit 360.awr.org.
Our Apps: Listen, Play, Learn
Other activity stations in our exhibit were equally interactive.
• The launch of our new website gave us the opportunity to show international attendees how to tune in to AWR programs in their language online. All of our radio programs – in more than 100 languages – are accessible on any device: mobile, tablet, and desktop.
• We’re excited about our new listening app, called AWR Mobile (available for both Android and iOS platforms). Using this all-in-one app, you can listen to live-stream or recorded programming, or dial to listen by phone.
• Through our new iPad app, visitors could try their hand at sending a shortwave signal to a target country, locate our 60 studios around the world, and read stories from selected locations.
• In partnership with AWR and Novo Tempo, Andrews University developed an exercise app called Spirit Strong, which features AWR stories that people can listen to as they work out.
A Wealth of Talents
AWR staff, volunteers, and family members also served key roles in other aspects of the Session.
• A team of expert journalists produced daily news podcasts which covered all aspects of the event.
• A talented engineering team built and operated the simultaneous translation broadcast system used in the Alamodome. The business sessions were translated into 10 languages for delegates and attendees.
• Our radio sales teams served hundreds of customers in multiple locations. A popular item was our multi-power radio, which can be run by a solar panel, hand crank, or batteries.