“Choir Honored for Broadcast 4,000 of Music and the Spoken Word,” Liahona, Sept. 2006, N1–N2
Both President Gordon B. Hinckley and U.S. President George W. Bush had something to say at the 4,000th broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word, the world’s longest-running continuous network radio broadcast.
The 4,000th program is but one more record for the weekly Sunday broadcast. It is a notable achievement for broadcasting both in the United States and around the world.
“We are thrilled with its continued prosperity,” said Scott Barrick, general manager of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which performs at every broadcast. “People still love the music—it’s a vibrant force for good in the world today.”
The 4,000th broadcast featured “A Legacy of Music through 4,000 Broadcasts”—a special retrospective broadcast tracing historical and meaningful moments in the program’s 77-year history—and included a recorded message from President Bush.
Brother Barrick said the president was grateful to be involved. During its nearly 160-year history, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed for 10 U.S. presidents and at 5 presidential inaugurations. The choir’s most recent appearance at the White House was in November 2003 to be awarded the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence.
Recognition during the program also came from Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr., who proclaimed the April 30th milestone as Mormon Tabernacle Choir Day in Utah.
Yet even with all the choir has accomplished, Brother Barrick said there is much more to look forward to. “President Hinckley said the choir is only at the foothills of what it could accomplish,” he said, recalling the prophet’s words from the 2004 celebration of Music and the Spoken Word’s 75th year. “The 4,000th is just another marker on the slope President Hinckley has asked us to climb.”
Those in attendance at the Conference Center were privileged to see and hear from President Hinckley, who spoke briefly in a live program following the retrospective broadcast. U.S. senator Orrin Hatch, Governor Huntsman, and others who are involved with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir also gave brief statements.
Led by music director Craig Jessop, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed with the Orchestra at Temple Square following the broadcast. Since its initial broadcast on July 15, 1929, Music and the Spoken Word has featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir weekly, joined in recent years by the orchestra. Over the years, the program has featured a variety of religious, patriotic, folk, show-tune, and other music, accompanied by inspirational spoken messages.
“Four thousand broadcasts over a period of more than 75 years is a truly remarkable achievement and a notable affirmation of Music and the Spoken Word’s enduring quality,” said choir president Mac Christensen in a press release.
The actual broadcast was narrated by longtime CBS newsman Charles Osgood—the choir’s “poet-in-residence”—and was broadcast live on KSL TV Channel 5.