“Source of Faith and Hope to Millions,” Ensign, July 2018
It started small. At the first broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word on July 15, 1929, a single microphone was suspended from the ceiling to capture the sound of the choir and organ. The organist’s son, perched on a ladder throughout the broadcast, spoke into the microphone to announce the songs. The program was picked up by a 30-station radio network.
But from the first time Music and the Spoken Word was broadcast, it was favorably received. Today its audience numbers in the millions, and some 2,000 television, radio, and cable stations in many parts of the world carry the weekly broadcast, which is also available on the internet. It remains the longest-running continuous network radio program in the world.
The anniversary of that first broadcast, July 15, falls on a Sunday this year, and with that anniversary, Music and the Spoken Word will begin its 90th year.
“We’ll just be getting back from a tour with the choir [in California and Washington, USA, and Vancouver, Canada],” said Lloyd Newell, who has been the voice of the spoken word and announcer for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for the past 28 years. “But we’ll talk about the anniversary during the broadcast.”
The choir actually traces its roots back to Welsh pioneers who formed a choir while en route to Utah in the 1840s. The choir has sung in the Salt Lake Tabernacle ever since the building was formally dedicated in October 1875.
And what’s in store for Music and the Spoken Word in the next 90 years?
“Technology changes and things come and go,” Brother Newell says. “But one thing remains constant, and that is people’s need for light and goodness, for something positive and inspirational. That’s unchanged, and that’s what the broadcast provides. So 10 years, 50 years, 90 years from now, people are still going to need light and goodness and inspiration. In fact, I think it’s going to be needed more than ever.”