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May 2, 2006

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Progam Turns 4,000

KUTV (Salt Lake City)

It's a historic weekend for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as a very popular program hits the four thousand mark. Sunday morning the 4,000th broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word by the choir will take place. In honor of the momentous occasion, Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. signed a proclamation making April 30 Mormon Tabernacle Choir Day.

“Now therefore, I as Governor of the greatest state in America, do hereby declare April 30th, 2006 as Mormon Tabernacle Choir Day, and it is an honor and a privilege to be able to do so,” the governor announced.

For a radio and television broadcast to be that successful, you must have the right formula. Sterling Poulson sat down with Craig Jessop, conductor of the choir, who revealed one the secrets to their success. “To use an old Air Force role model, Glen Miller, his programming guideline, kind of sounds like a wedding, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” says Jessop. “And so we try and always bring in something new to the broadcast to bring our singers fresh and alive, we always try to have the old standards, be it a hymn or a choral masterwork, something borrowed, yes, we borrow from the best, and when he says something blue, I think of something nostalgic, something poignant, something that brings back.”

Singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is certainly a high honor, and thousands of members of the choir have been singing to America every Sunday since 1929 when the first radio broadcast originated from the Tabernacle on Temple Square. Lloyd Newell, the current voice of the choir, says the purpose of “Music and the Spoken Word” hasn't changed through 4,000 broadcasts. “What we want to do in the Spoken Word is to give people just a few minutes of inspiration, lift their spirits, steady their hearts a little bit, give them some hope,” says Newell. “The music really drives home the message, but the Spoken Word also give them a message of hope and peace.” Lloyd says that when “Music and the Spoken Word” reached 1,000 broadcasts, the world was recovering from World War II. At 2,000, the civil rights movement was near its height in America. When broadcast number 3,000 aired, the information age was gaining momentum, as computers entered our lives.

The one thing that hasn't changed is the need for people to feed their souls. “I remember in 1968 being in Korea on a USO tour riding on a bus through soul, and on Armed Forces Radio here comes Music and Spoken Word,” recounted Jessop. “As an American, and as a Latter Day Saint, it brought tears to my eyes. It was a touchstone.” And it continues today as a touchstone for thousands. “I get letters from all over this nation of people who are in prison, people who are shut up in a nursing home facility, homebound, who this is their church, this is their religious service, this is their devotional for the week, Music and the Spoken Word,” says Jessop.

The producer of “Music and the Spoken Word,” Ed Payne, says that the advances in broadcast technology have certainly enhanced the show. “The most difficult part is making sure the technology doesn't overpower the message and the spirit that the choir tries to sing. If it becomes too evident, the technology, then you've done the wrong thing,” says Payne. They all say one thing you can count on for the next 1000 broadcasts is very little change in a very successful program “I think the advice president Hinckley would give us is to sustain, maintain, improve where you can, but don't change the format a great deal. The format is a good friend and has worked very well,” says Jessop.

Watch the video here.

Posted by acapnews at May 2, 2006 12:38 AM