LDS President Thomas S. Monson holds a plaque commemorating the Tabernacle Choir's 80th anniversary broadcast. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

On a hot summer afternoon eight decades ago, a young announcer climbed a ladder in the Tabernacle on Temple Square and spoke into a borrowed microphone the opening lines of a new radio program from “the Crossroads of the West.” The broadcast that became known as Music and the Spoken Word was on the air.

After that first broadcast, the radio network president sent a telegram: “Your wonderful Tabernacle program made a great impression in New York. Have heard from leading ministers—all impressed by program. Eagerly awaiting your next.”1 Little did he or anyone else know, that was only the first of well over 4,000 such broadcasts.

Despite its successful beginning, few could have predicted that 80 years later this beloved program would be eagerly awaited every week by listeners around the world. Music and the Spoken Word has become the world’s longest-running network broadcast. It is carried on more than 2,000 radio and television stations and cable systems around the world—in Denmark, for example, the program has been on the air for 30 years. It has been broadcast from venues throughout the United States and from Australia, Brazil, Russia, and Japan, to name only a few.

Sometimes it seems that we have little in common with people who lived 80 years ago, but this broadcast is an exception. Every week since 1929, like a trusted friend, it has lifted and comforted our spirits and encouraged one generation after another to focus on the things that matter most. Today’s challenges are different in some ways—the world seems more noisy and confusing than it once was—but we continue to find in Music and the Spoken Word a welcome reprieve, a beacon of hope, steadying troubled hearts and enhancing life’s joys. That’s why we look forward to the next inspiring program just as eagerly today as listeners did 80 years ago.

From the CBS Radio Network broadcast on July 19, 2009


Music and The Spoken Word makes history in Europe
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When the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on July 15, 2009 celebrates it’s 80th year of broadcasting Music and The Spoken Word throughout the United States, the choir can proudly mark another milestone in Europe, with 30. years of uninterrupted weekly broadcasts of Music and The Spoken Word in Denmark, the longest continous broadcast of Music and The Spoken Word anywhere in the world outside of the United States.

In 1974 a group of  people interested in Choral music, founded the Danish Society in Support of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Danish Tabernacle Choir Society) a Non Profit Society, with the object of diffusing knowledge of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and its music. The society is not affiliated with the LDS Church and its members consists of both LDS and non-LDS lovers of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

It was the society that introduced the European public to the recordings of the Choir and has for many years sent several of the choirs Columbia recordings to the press for review. The newspaper reviews and the public demand were so significan that the European branch office of CBS Records decided finally to start manufacturing recordings by the choir at their plants in England and The Netherlands. Several of the choir’s albums were CBS Classical Album of the Month for several months and topped the charts as classical best sellers.

In 1979, in cooperation with Mr. Iain McKay, Director of International Marketing at Bonneville Communications in Salt Lake City, the Danish Tabernacle Choir Society arranged for Music and The Spoken Word to be broadcast on Danish radio stations.Broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word on Danish television followed. By 1982, interest in the Choir was such that a Grand tour of Scandinavia and Finland was organized.

The first Danish speaker was Walder Hartmann, followed 10 years later by a Dane from London, Tom Ahlmann. Danish host on the show today is Kent Gade Olesen, President of the Society and Scandinavian Producer of Music and The Spoken Word since it began some 30 years ago.

Kent Gade Olesen (left) with Ed Payne, Producer of Music and The Spoken Word at the Bonneville Studios in Salt Lake City. Photo Debra Gehris, Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The radio broadcasts of Music and The Spoken Word in Denmark have numbered up to 45 stations covering a substantial area of Denmark. As many stations join forces in these years and start networking, we presently serve between 20 and 30 stations on a weekly basis in such far destinations as Greenland and Faroe Islands.The choir’s seasonal programmes are broadcast by more than 50 stations throughout Scandinavia.

The Society was also involved in a special one hour production of Christmas with Sissel, a Norwegian Singing Sensation who sang with the Choir in 2005 celebrating the Norwegian Centennial and for the Choir’s  now famous 2006 Christmas Concerts.  A special of the concert was produced with Sissel narrating in Norwegian. This program was aired by all major state networks in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Greenland in prime time on Christmas Eve in both 2007 and 2008, and was also broadcast  on many channels throughout Europe,Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

It is with great pride that The Danish Tabernacle Choir Society and the producer of Music and The Spoken Word, Bonneville Communications in Salt Lake City, begin its 30th year of broadcasting in Denmark. The choir directed by Dr. Mack Wilberg has just finished recording the familiar open and close (Gently Raise the Sacred Strain and God Be With You) in Danish language, a fantastic new adding to the Danish broadcasts.