On July 15, 1929 the first broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word was played over the radio. The announcer began with the now famous words, “From the crossroads of the West, we welcome you to a program of inspirational music and spoken word.” That first broadcast started a tradition that has lasted 75 years and is going stronger than ever.
Music and the Spoken Word is the longest running continuous network broadcast and is played on more than 2,000 radio and television stations. Even from it’s beginning, the program was a success. A radio network president in New York commented on the first broadcast, “Your wonderful Tabernacle program is making great impression in New York. Have heard from leading ministers. All impressed by program. Eagerly awaiting your next.” The program was off to a brilliant start.
Starting in June of 1930, the voice of the program was Richard L. Evans, who also served as an Apostle, and many were drawn to his soothing voice. For 41 years Richard L. Evans announced the songs and spoke the inspiring words of the broadcast. It was Evans who wrote the program's closing words which have remained unchanged:
- Again we leave you from within the shadows of the everlasting hills. May peace be with you this day and always.
Many people even claimed Evans as their spiritual leader. President Harold B. Lee said of him, “Richard L. Evans didn’t just belong to this Church; he belonged to the world, and they claimed him as such.” Following Richard Evans sudden death, Spencer Kinard became the voice of program. Following him in 1990, Lloyd D. Newell became the broadcaster and continues in that role today.
The program received national recognition for its 25th year of broadcasting. Life magazine commemorated the heritage of the program:
- Those who know this program ... need no arguments for listening to it. Millions have heard them, and more millions we hope, will hear them in years to come. It is a national institution to be proud of.
And millions have heard this program and enjoyed the familiarity and peace that it brings each Sunday. Music and the Spoken Word has received other awards and recognition. It has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and other media; it was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and recently in 2003 received an award from the International Radio and Television Society.
The program is produced by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. More than 50 crew members are needed to ensure that the quality of the production is maintained. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is made up of 360 people between the ages of 25 and 60. All of the members of the choir sing and offer their time without compensation. Most are still working in their various occupations and join the choir out of a love of music and the choir’s message.
Music and the Spoken Word has traditionally been broadcast from the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, but due to renovations, it currently broadcasts from the Conference Center, just north of the Tabernacle. Visitor's can attend Music and the Spoken Word live for free on Sundays at 9:30 am.
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