Lloyd Newell shares experiences ahead of his last 'Music & the Spoken Word' broadcast

Lloyd Newell, left, and Derrick Porter stand together as Porter is announced as the new voice of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday. Porter’s first "Music & the Spoken Word" broadcast will be on June 23.

Lloyd Newell, left, and Derrick Porter stand together as Porter is announced as the new voice of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday. Porter’s first "Music & the Spoken Word" broadcast will be on June 23. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Lloyd Newell said his role as narrator for "Music & the Spoken Word" over the last 35 years has been a joy for him and his family.

"It has been such a tremendous blessing that I can't even express it, and I've been in the business of expressing myself for a long time," he said.

Newell spoke about his experiences representing the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at a press conference ahead of his final broadcast on Sunday.

"This is not an easy thing for me, and yet, at the same time, it's a happy thing because change is a part of life, and this is a big change for us," he said, referring to him and his wife.

They have been called to lead the Los Angeles California Mission for the church.

Throughout his time as the narrator for "Music & the Spoken Word," Newell said although he pulled inspiration from his own life, he has not used the words "I" or "me." He will, however, on Sunday as he gives his final broadcast.

"It's my goodbye to the audience," he said.

Mike Leavitt, former Utah governor and current president of the choir, called Newell's last broadcast an "historic moment." He said the choir has only had three announcers up to this point, and soon four.

He said as the longest-running broadcast, "Music & the Spoken Word" has served as "a beacon of peace and healing for 95 years."

Newell wrote and delivered over radio 1,752 "digestible sermons and insights" during the last almost 35 years. Because of this, Leavitt said Newell is "one of the most prolific and influential contributors of inspirational literature in the history of modern media."

Leavitt explained that the call to provide the spoken word for the choir's programs comes directly from the leader of the church — not through an audition. He said the narrator represents the church and its leadership in an important program to spread its message to the world.

Over the last few months, he said he has learned how Derrick Porter, who is replacing Newell, will add to the program.

"Over the course of the last month, the gifts that Derrick Porter has are becoming evident to me and evident to others who work to produce the spoken word and will be evident to the viewers in time," Leavitt said.

Porter said his is "thrilled" at this new opportunity. He said the call from church leaders was a "complete shock and surprise, to him, his wife and his six children.

Derrick Porter speaks after being announced as the new voice of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday. Porter’s first "Music & the Spoken Word" broadcast will be on Sunday, June 23.
Derrick Porter speaks after being announced as the new voice of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday. Porter’s first "Music & the Spoken Word" broadcast will be on Sunday, June 23. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Porter, who previously served as a bishop for the church in Bountiful, said what Newell has done is "irreplaceable," and he will try to stand on his shoulders.

"My hope is that I might be able to just take a little bit of (what) Lloyd has done and to be able to express the same honor and dignity to what this broadcast has done," he said.

He said, while running two businesses, he has brought guests from around the world to watch the broadcast, and every time, guests are "blown away with the mission of the choir."

Porter said he wants to help more people feel the peace, hope and joy that comes from the weekly program.

He grew up listening to Newell and said after he accepted the calling to replace him, family members reminded Porter that he would sometimes imitate Newell's voice announcing the beginning of the church's general conferences in their home.

Although people have said he seems young for the role, Porter said he is the oldest person to begin narrating for the choir's program at age 42.

Newell encouraged Porter to "enjoy every moment" of his role. He said filling the role has been a "distinct privilege and honor and blessing."

At first he said he was overwhelmed, but he realized he had been prepared for the role while doing news broadcasts — but he said people didn't reach out to say he touched their hearts until he began his role with the Tabernacle Choir.

"This is the most fulfilling broadcasting I've ever done because it really can make a difference in people's lives," Newell said.

He said when writing, he tried to pull from universal truths and appeal to people around the world with different beliefs. Newell said his role was to deliver "a nondenominational, interfaith message that could touch all hearts."

Longtime announcer Lloyd Newell speaks as Derrick Porter is announced as the new voice of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday.
Longtime announcer Lloyd Newell speaks as Derrick Porter is announced as the new voice of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Newell said he developed a relationship with his audience, and he said he hopes they will continue to hear from him.

"I can't stop writing and thinking about these things; you don't turn a switch off. I'll continue to write and speak and thank and let my voice be heard, but in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we serve in other ways," he said.

Newell said neither the narrator nor the choir or orchestra are paid. "It's an offering of love, a contribution of service," he said. He said there is nothing like it in the world, with a mixture of music and inspirational messages that are constant — a "steady rock" listeners can count on.

He said the star of the program is not the spoken word, but is always the choir and he is excited to watch what it does in the upcoming years.

"There is not a greater sound in the world, and the choir keeps improving and getting better," Newell said.

Porter's first message as the narrator for the program will be on June 23, after Newell's final message this Sunday.

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsUtahReligionSalt Lake CountyEntertainment
Emily Ashcraft joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.

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