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Delivering program abroad provides challenges

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Just when Ed Payne, producer of the Tabernacle Choir's weekly television network "Music and the Spoken Word," thinks he has encountered practically every problem in putting the program together from abroad, he discovers a whole new set of hurdles.

During the choir's tour to Europe June 12-July 2, he produced the program from London, England; Geneva, Switzerland, and Barcelona, Spain."We produce the program week after week, so we know what we're doing," Brother Payne said of working on it in Salt Lake City. "Hardly anything falls through the cracks when we're working in the Tabernacle. One of the problems we face on tour is that we, basically, start from scratch."

Starting from scratch during the tour meant that the European national television networks that were already filming the concerts cooperated in producing "Music and the Spoken Word," providing camera work, lighting and sound for the program.

"None of those people had done this program before," Brother Payne said. "When we're working abroad, we take nothing for granted. We don't assume that the person doing the teleprompter for us knows where to get the script, or if there's a problem will know who to contact.

"In Salt Lake City, we have 25 people involved on a weekly basis on `Music and the Spoken Word.' About half of those are on-site technical staff, the other half are script coordinators, writers, and people at Bonneville Communications who are the executive producers who fund and market `Music and the Spoken Word.'

"On the European tour, we took six key people; four of them were attached to the choir, helping with their concerts, besides `Music and the Spoken Word.' " Working with Brother Payne on the tour were an associate producer, John Bigler; two audio people, Lynn Robinson and Gaylen Smith, and a stage manager, Wolfgang Zeisler. They were involved on a consulting basis to the local production crews, at each country's national television network.

One of the biggest jobs on such a tour is getting every bit of information to the hosting broadcasting company in order that it can understand just what kind of program "Music and the Spoken Word" is so the finished product will look as closely as possible to programs that come out of the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

Working with professionals helps, but there are still hurdles to overcome. "Language is one of the biggest obstacles," Brother Payne said, noting that even though his staff and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) crew in England spoke a common language there were still barriers. "We have different terminology," he said. "We call the supers (superscripts or titles) after a machine that we put them on, a Kyron. So, I'd say, `Put the kyrons here.' The folks from BBC kept asking where we wanted the astins. I had no idea what they were talking about. They called their supers after the machine they used, an Astin."

On tour, challenges increase when Brother Payne's staff and the local crews don't speak the same language. Sometimes, going through an interpreter doesn't help much, especially if the interpreter has not worked in the television industry. Brother Payne said that he had one experience some years ago in which the local language had no equivalent for the word "cue."

The program in England was transmitted via satellite for broadcast in the regular time slot on the CBS Network in the United States. With the time difference between London and Salt Lake City, the choir performed at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 13. Through the satellite feed, viewers saw the program the same day during its regular network time slot, which was 9:30 a.m. in Salt Lake City.

The concert in Geneva was taped and edited Thursday, June 8. The tapes were taken by courier to Salt Lake City in preparation for broadcast nationwide. However, a technical problem arose in Salt Lake City, which prohibited that particular broadcast from airing at its scheduled time on June 21. The problem was resolved, so the broadcast from Genevea aired on June 28. "Music and the Spoken Word" was taped in Barcelona on Friday June 26, in preparation for airing during the regular time slot on Sunday, June 28. However, the CBS Network pre-empted that week's program in order to broadcast the tennis tournament at Wimbledon. The choir's broadcast from Barcelona, therefore, was rescheduled to air on July 12 at 10 a.m.