Shortly before the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas, Scott Grady made an unexpected transition.
The previous Session’s technical director, Warren Judd, was planning to retire and wanted to train someone who could assume the role of coordinating the complex, multiday production. Grady seemed like a natural fit because he had directed the previous Session’s evening programs. When he said yes to leading in 2015, he did not know the training period would be abbreviated. Judd, who was intending to pass along all his knowledge, died from liver cancer.
While processing the shocking news, Grady managed to pull off a successful production in Texas.
Planning for the Next Session
Fast-forward to June 2022 in St. Louis. Scott Grady and his technical crew are command central for the audiovisual operations of the 61st General Conference Session. Grady is sitting for an interview backstage at the America’s Center Convention Complex as the tech crew darts back and forth in the cavernous dome.
Since rolling into town on Sunday, May 29, with a semitrailer filled with equipment, he has had a series of long days getting ready for the Session, which opened June 6, 2022.
“I’m getting five to six hours of sleep each evening,” he says with a laugh and no hint that he would rather be any place else. “It boils down to wanting to be a part of the mission of the church. I just feel like I want to be a part of letting people know what’s going on in the church and trying to facilitate to this.”
Although a contractor was hired to lay down miles and miles of cables and hang more than 100 feet of drapes for the backdrop, Grady and his crew of 30 are very busy. The crew might be responsible for fewer studio setups this go-around, but the complication is in running a hybrid session, where hundreds of delegates are online and a few thousand are in person. This has meant installing studio equipment in the nominating committee room so that translators can be heard and Zoom videoconference coordinators can monitor the feed.
His team consists of directors, graphic operators, engineers, Zoom videoconference operators, audio technicians, a producer, and master control. They oversee the coordination of eight foreign language translations plus American Sign Language. These are streamed to a videoconference platform and the livestream (which is available for viewing from Adventist Review).
“Right Place at the Right Time”
Grady’s interest in college wasn’t in media production. In fact, he was studying aviation at Andrews University. One day, his dad, who was an Adventist pastor in Michigan, had the idea to create local introductions to Faith For Today broadcasts that were airing on the area cable stations. When Faith For Today gave the green light, Grady began taping his father.
“I look back, and the production was terrible,” he says. “I don’t think we even set up any lights.”
But those humble beginnings caught the attention of someone at the station. Grady’s dad was asked who was editing those local segments. That connection turned into a two-year stint recording church services across Benton Harbor, Michigan, and broadcasting them on the cable station each Sunday.
When he graduated from Andrews University and couldn’t find a job in aviation, Grady moved with his parents to California. His father was working for what would become the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and was once again instrumental in his career journey. Grady was asked to film some of the work they were doing to bring awareness to the ministry. That stint turned into ADRA’s asking Grady to help establish a media department.
“It’s just been a series of being in the right place at the right time,” Grady says. “I run into college students who want to get into it, and I don’t have a good answer. It’s just doing whatever people need done and not worrying about how many hours it’s going to take.” But the best answer he can think of is that God has put him in the right place at the right time.
Still, it’s mindboggling, he says. “Just this morning as I was getting ready to come over here [to the convention center], I was asking, ‘Why me?’ It’s been a long journey, and there are people on my team who are infinitely smarter than I am. This couldn’t happen without the team. I’m in way over my head sometimes with a lot of this stuff. But I keep doing it, and I know it’s got to be God.”
Daily posts of the 61st General Conference Session are available from Adventist Review.