90th Anniversary and the Impact of the Longest Running Radio Program 'Music and the Spoken Word'

July 14, 1929 was the Tabernacle Choir’s first live radio performance of ‘Music and the Spoken Word’

Today, how the Tabernacle Choir is captured and broadcasted across media waves all over the planet each week is quite different from the choir’s first live radio performance of Music and the Spoken Word 90 years ago.

However, what remains constant throughout is the purpose and the message that keeps the broadcast alive and going for nine decades.

A sit down with the weekly program announcer, Lloyd Newell has him confess that the technology in use today is different, and broader when compared to the technology in 1929. He is quick to add that the broadcasts remain faithful to the original intent, which was and still is to produce beautiful music that is inspirational and timeless.

The music remains as the central point for the program. However, the message should be non-denominational, inspirational, and reach anyone across the world regardless of background or faith. Newell adds that the program spreads goodwill and lifts spirits.

On July 14, 2019 Music and the Spoken Word crossed the 90-year milestone. The program continues its legacy as being the longest-running and continuous broadcast program operating from the United States. People arrived at the Conference Center at Temple Square before 9:30 a.m. to witness and be part of the 90th-anniversary broadcast.

To keep them entertained, music from the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra wafted through the air as the members continued with rehearsals preceding the broadcast. The audience made up mostly of visitors and not Utah locals, sat in the lower center seating sections.

In his usual stride, Newell took up his position on the platform to address the audience. He announced the broadcast is being streamed to over 2,000 TV and Radio stations across the planet. He also reminded the attendees that they were taking part in a historic occasion for the loved and long-running program. Just like it was done 90 years back, the choir started singing out The Morning Breaks hymn.

In her book about the history of the Tabernacle Choir, historian and author Heidi Swinton explained the broadcast first aired in 1929 and run as a weekday afternoon program. The broadcast started in Utah and slowly spread across the United States, as hundreds of thousands of people tuned in to listen to Music and the Spoken Word weekly. The program was on air during the hard times when the stock market fell, during World War II although the choir rarely had a live audience in the years 1942-1945.

The 90-year run has seen the choir and the broadcast respond to what is going on in the world as it gives people something positive.


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