July marks the beginning of an 80th Anniversary Year of the Music and The Spoken Word radio broadcast. With humble beginnings in 1929 it is the longest continually running broadcast in the world.
According to online sources, a traditional 80th Anniversary gift is “Oak”, which I think would make the original LDS pioneers pleased. When the Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square was constructed, the saints wanted to give their very best to the Lord, however the desired construction material of oak wood was not an available resource. Thus, the balcony and benches were constructed with native pine wood, and then painstakingly hand painted with carefully designed strokes to look like oak. It seems a fitting tribute that this year the Choir & beloved radio broadcast housed within that historic building is being awarded official “oak status”!
The Contemporary 80th Anniversary gift is listed as Diamonds & Pearls. For millions throughout the world, each weekly broadcast has offered a bright diamond of happiness, and a pearl of peace for a few minutes per week. One of my personal treasured memories comes from listening to a homemade tape-recorded broadcast mailed to me in 1987 while I was living in Jerusalem. It was a pretty poor quality recording (I believe mom held her tape recorder up next to our television set), so several friends and I huddled close together around my tiny cassette player in order to hear the program.
Today I cannot recall what songs were sung, or what the message was about. However I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of comfort and joy it gave to me to hear songs of hope in a war-torn land, and to hear songs honoring Christ just footsteps from His birthplace. Wherever this life takes me, I will always feel instantly at home when I hear those familiar words “From The CrossRoads of The West…”
From today’s Mormon Tabernacle Choir Newsletter:
Music and the Spoken Word Begins 80th Year
Each week when Lloyd Newell ends the weekly Music and the Spoken Word broadcast he gives the number of the broadcast just completed and mentions the number of years the broadcast has been running. On Sunday, July 20th, he read these words, “This concludes the four thousand one hundred fifteenth (4,115th) performance, commencing the 80th year of this traditional broadcast from Temple Square…” In that way, the Choir’s weekly radio and television broadcast reached another milestone in its broadcast history. On Tuesday, July 15, 1929, in a warm Tabernacle on Temple Square, the tradition began.
KZL, the predecessor station to KSL Radio in Salt Lake City, had temporarily gone off the air so that the one microphone it owned could be transported across town to be suspended from the roof of the Tabernacle. A lone announcer climbed a ladder to announce the musical selections and the Choir sang several selections including “Gently Raise the Sacred Strain” and “The Morning Breaks; The Shadows Flee “ on the first installment of Music and the Spoken Word. Little did they realize that over 4,100 other installments would follow. Every Sunday, rain or shine, wind or snow, peace or conflict, a broadcast has been sent from Salt Lake City to broadcast listeners at home and abroad. Now every Sunday broadcast history continues to be made as the longest continuous network broadcast in the world adds yet another week to its impressive record. July 20, 2008 began the 80th year; it will finish next year on July 19th. Special commemorative festivities are planned to mark the conclusion of the 80th year.
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