At a Logan, Utah, Stake Conference in 1953, Elder Matthew Cowley of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles prophesied, “One day there will be channels under the control of the Church whereby they can direct this message, this witness, unto any nation they desire, and it can be carried through the channels of the air in the very language of the people to whom the message is addressed.”

This quote was included in one of hundreds of messages sent to Dustin Dibble after his Facebook post went viral in April. “I’ve been involved with the production of General Conference for a few years, and I am still amazed at the army needed to man the tech that it takes to send this broadcast all over the world, on all sorts of platforms,” he shared. “I’ll always remember walking around the product floor at NAB in Las Vegas (huge broadcasting convention) with my team lead, talking to equipment manufacturers. They were very proud that their equipment would do 16 or 32 channels of audio. We’d tell them: ‘Well, we need something that can handle 96 languages.’ Their eyes would bug out of their head, and they would have a ‘1.21 gigawatts!’ moment. They would sputter, ‘Who does 96 languages? The United Nations only does 33! It can’t be done!’”

Of course, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints know it not only can be done, but is done — twice a year for General Conference. Dustin sees it all happen behind the scenes as the Church’s Media Operations Center Manager. “I was reminded of this just now,” his post continued, “as I listened to the interpreter for Sinhala, spoken on Sri Lanka. He’s interpreting from there, where it’s 5 AM. I could actually hear the crickets chirping in the background as he interpreted.  My heart swelled. These messages are important.”

“I really didn’t know anything about what it takes to put General Conference on until Dustin started working at the Church,” Dustin’s wife, Brandi, shared. “Honestly, it didn’t even occur to me that there were people working around the clock on a Saturday and a Sunday to make sure that the broadcast happened so everybody could watch.”

When Dustin became one of those people, family life on Conference weekends changed. Suddenly, Brandi and their three kids were watching the entirety of Conference alone, including on Easter when it coincides. Though Dustin can’t be with them, it helps to know what he’s doing.

“For the kids, I think Dad being gone is something they’ve looked at and gone, ‘Oh, wow — he cares about this enough that he’s going to miss Easter, and we’re gonna sit and watch what he’s doing from home,’” Brandi said. “For them to watch him work for something he really believes in, I do think it helps with their testimony a little bit.”

Dustin’s post was seen by hundreds of thousands of people, and Dustin received hundreds of messages and random friend requests. The messages included everything from feedback on the backdrop and complaints about broken closed-captioning to gratitude and appreciation for what Dustin does — all of which he passes along to the rest of the crew.

“My job, really I’m just a cheerleader,” Dustin said. “I walk around the Conference Center to the different teams that I supervise, and into the master control room and the satellite transmission room, and into the internet streaming room. I kind of cheerlead and ask if there are any problems; it’s my job to make sure everyone else can do theirs and remove roadblocks for people.”

Working for the Church

After bouncing around a few different TV stations and streaming companies, Dustin’s job with the Church was a welcome change for the family.

“When Dustin was working for television stations, he would work different hours all through the night, sometimes for different shows or things that were going on — but also just the atmosphere that he was in was rough,” Brandi observed. “For normal television stations, there’s language and stuff that they’re talking about is sometimes depressing and heavy, and people don’t hold the same standards we do in those surroundings.

“He would come home pretty anxious and stressed out,” she continued. “One of the things I’ve noticed is that since working for the Church, he’s come home happier and calmer now that he doesn’t have to listen to the language and be in a more crude television station environment. To go from that to a place where everybody’s of the same faith and is basically working for the same cause is pretty cool to watch.”

It’s still a job — there are still stressors and disagreements, but it’s a very different environment from many that Dustin has worked in before. His department often uses Elder Bednar’s summation, “It’s more than a job but less than a calling.”

“When they hired me, they shook my hand, they didn’t lay their hands on my head,” Dustin said. “It’s hard sometimes because it feels like more than a job, because you’re participating in the work of salvation. You’re doing the work of the Lord. But you’re getting paid for it, and you’re getting paid through sacred funds. And so it does feel important. That’s the nice thing, is that you really know your work matters.

“A lot of people that work in production, you come home at the end of the night and you wonder what you’ve accomplished. You say, ‘Yeah, I did this dumb video about this dumb thing.’ But this work that we do, these are the most important messages on the planet, that the world so so so desperately needs. We put it into 90-some-odd languages, so the world can hear them.”

Since becoming a digital media producer and project manager in 2010 and then senior manager in media operations in 2018, Dustin’s perspective on what goes into Church broadcasts and events has grown.

“The crew and the production is supposed to be seamless, and people aren’t supposed to worry about that — so I guess it’s kind of a success that they don’t,” Dustin said. “But as you get deeper into television production and learn more about it, you start to realize that there’s someone behind there, and there’s people doing this, and people doing that. Even in my position where I’ve been for three and a half years, once in a while something will strike me and I’ll think, ‘Oh, I didn’t know about the team that did that.’ I’m still learning about certain teams that do obscure pieces, and no one really knows about them — it’s amazing.”

Early Interest in Media

Dustin grew up in the rural northern Utah town of Mantua, where he discovered his own passions early on. “I grew up kind of out in the sticks, and my favorite thing to do — and it still is now — was going snowboarding,” he said. “Me and my buddies would go snowboarding and we wanted to be like the pros, so we would take our video camera and film it.”

After a winter of recording snowboarding footage at 13, Dustin and his friends decided to edit the footage into a video “like the pros.” They spent the entire summer in the basement, teaching themselves to edit tapes. By the end of the summer, they had their first snowboarding video. “We stole our parents’ VCRs and begged and borrowed equipment. We had a little premiere party and invited all our friends, and we thought it was the greatest thing ever. And that’s kind of what made me fall in love with video work.”

Making wedding videos helped put Dustin through school, where he majored in broadcast journalism and electronic media and fell in love with the “rush” of live TV. He was finishing his bachelor’s degree at Utah State University in Logan when he met Brandi, who was working on her master’s degree in psychology and living in Orem, two hours away. “We met on the internet before it was socially acceptable — before that’s what the cool kids did,” Dustin joked.

Dustin’s first job after college was a local television station in Park City that gave him a wide range of experience as he filled multiple roles, from directing live shows to going out on shoots to mixing audio for live bands on the show. He and Brandi were married in 2005, as Brandi delved into practice as a therapist. As Orion and Aurora joined the family after incredibly difficult, high-risk pregnancies, Brandi also pursued a doctorate.

When Brandi gave up her practice to be a stay-at-home mom and have a third child, she accidentally started a second career — Eternal Harvest Décor, a furniture business that has grown from selling the entryway table she made too big for their space to a thriving brand with her own DIY videos online and on SHG Living. With such a big part of her business revolving around social media, Brandi has earned teasing rights for her “social media influencer husband,” when Dustin rarely posts on social media and yet his one rare post went viral.

It would be easy to assume that Dustin, with his career in video production, has had a hand in helping Brandi create her videos — but with rare exception, she’s a one-woman wonder. “Honestly, he’s too busy — I need to do it,” Brandi admitted. “For social media, you’ve got to move fast. I can’t wait for him to come home from work to help me.”

Dustin does stay busy in his job, especially since the pandemic hit, but it’s a sacrifice the family has been willing to make to support Dustin’s role in the media operations department at the Church.

Behind the Scenes of General Conference

Of course, one of the main priorities of the Publishing Services Department is General Conference. Like most members of the crew, Dustin has to go back to watch and read General Conference afterwards because he’s too busy making it happen to listen. That makes on-the-job spiritual experiences rare — and memorable.

Leading up to the October 2018 General Conference, in which Russel M. Nelson was to be sustained as President of the Church, rumors were circulating about various groups planning to disrupt the solemn assembly. As a crew, Dustin and his team were worried and prepared for major disturbances in the meeting. They worked with Church security and participants, giving their all to create a nice experience for Church members around the globe.

“Everything worked out, and it was really relieving to hear how quiet it was during the sustaining,” Dustin remembered. “You could hear a pin drop. It was powerful.” Each organization within the Church was called upon to sustain Church leadership, and then the entire church sustained President Nelson together.

“I remember the shots of President Nelson, he kind of had tears in his eyes. You know, broadcast folks are usually pretty jaded — a lot of us got our experience in regular television, and even though we’re all temple-recommend-holding members of the Church, we’re generally there to do our jobs first and be spiritually uplifted later,” Dustin shared. “The entire crew got emotional during the sustaining when everyone saw President Nelson like that — and that just doesn’t happen very often. I was kind of shocked. I heard the director calling cameras, and he was crying as he was doing it. He was very emotional, and that made everybody else really emotional. It was special.”

Though General Conference is the most widely-viewed production, Dustin’s workload extends far beyond the anticipated weekend. Months beforehand, meetings begin, and for weeks after there’s work producing the recordings, individual talks and various languages. Though many languages are translated live, some are done later and if a translator wasn’t satisfied with their translation, they sometimes re-record segments.

Since the pandemic, the work has shifted with different venues and various restrictions. Unable to travel to conferences around the world, the brethren began using “Zoom rooms” that Dustin’s team helps operate: rooms with big screens so the brethren can “attend” meetings while staying at Church Headquarters. With as many as eight conferences every weekend, each with multiple meetings, Dustin’s team has been busy.

Some of the adaptations to General Conference due to the pandemic were the source of complaints on Dustin’s viral post — which Dustin took constructively and brought up with various teams. While he’s happy for the helpful feedback, he’ll leave the social influencing to Brandi in the future — or try to.

At home with Orion (14), Aurora (12) and Thea (6), Brandi has been enjoying incorporating some aspects of mental health into her home decor videos. Psychology is still her first passion, and she prayerfully considers going back to that field in some capacity every year. But for now, she’s happy to focus on homeschooling her kids and enjoying the journey life has to offer them — whether that includes viral videos or silent sacrifice.

“One thing that struck me was the outpouring of gratitude, love and prayers,” Dustin said. “As a crew we’re supposed to be invisible and silent. We don’t expect to be noticed — or even thought of, really. But I got a lot of messages from people who said they prayed for the crew specifically, and that moved me. We don’t get to hear a lot of those kudos — yes, we get thanked a lot, but we don’t often hear that people are praying for our welfare and performance. That was a testimony-builder for me.”