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Live satellite links with Israel part of YouthLink technology

JERUSALEM (BP)–Randy Horenstein stands in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, scanning the sky with a small, silvery instrument that’s part compass, part inclinometer. From the readings he takes — direction and measurements of trees, walls and other obstacles overhead — he makes a quick sketch.
At the moment, his job is to determine how much clear sky is available for transmission to a satellite parked 22,300 miles above the Atlantic. He is checking this and other sites around Israel representing significant moments in the life of Jesus Christ.
In December, Horenstein will be the engineer in charge of orchestrating the technical side of precision satellite links among Israel and the seven U.S. cities hosting YouthLink 2000 — the millennial event for 200,000 teenagers and college students.
From different sites in Israel each night of the Dec. 29-31 event, students will trace the earthly walk of the historical Jesus Christ who taught in this desert countryside, died on the cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb — and rose from the dead.
“In a sense we want to roll back the centuries to 30 A.D., to bring our U.S. audience here via satellite to ponder how Jesus and a handful of followers changed history,” explained YouthLink 2000 project coordinator Doyle Pennington. “Then we will challenge this generation of students to carry Christ’s life-changing gospel into the next millennium.”
The Israel link will be a brief but momentous piece of each day’s packed YouthLink 2000 program, which is designed to challenge students to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and to share the gospel with every other American student by the end of 2000. Cross-country satellite links will make the YouthLink 2000 event in seven different cities feel like one.
Split-second timing will be critical as Horenstein and more than 250 employees of Crawford Communications, Inc., of Atlanta link all 200,000 students in Anaheim, Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Tampa.
Satellite signals from all sites will come to the master control center in Atlanta, where they will be switched and immediately sent back out to all seven sites.
The operation will provide opportunities for sequential reporting from each site (live interviews, program excerpts or video from mission projects) beamed simultaneously to all the cities. It also will bring to the seven audiences a sense of oneness. Students in all seven venues may do the wave together or, in unison, sing praises to God.
“The unique challenges of this project include its scope, the up-linking and down-linking to each site, and the master control aspect featuring two-way audio and two-way video,” said William S. Thompson, director of operations for Crawford Production Services. “Taking signals from all the sites, including Jerusalem, cutting from one to another in a sequence, and sending that back out will also make this project unique.”
In terms of experience and expertise, Crawford is well equipped for the task. For a decade the company routinely has provided live feeds of National Football League to England. During the 1996 Olympic Games, Crawford handled multiple international satellite feeds for major networks in Europe, South America and Japan.
“Assuming that we are able to organize the domestic venues and the Jerusalem feed properly with all the right people in place — which we are confident we can do — the single most important issue will be the coordination and timing of everyone who participates in the global link,” Thompson said. “We will want to be sure that the people who are performing during the local presentations are poised and ready for their cues. This will be the most critical part of your project for us.”
For more information, visit the youthlink2000.org web site or call toll-free 1-888-YOUTHLK.

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  • Celeste Pennington