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‘Music and the Spoken Word' celebrates 80 years on the air



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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has hit a remarkable milestone in broadcasting. The choir has performed its weekly "Music and the Spoken Word" for 80 years now, making it the longest continuous live network broadcast.

Millions throughout the country, and now in some faraway nations, tune in every Sunday to hear the music of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The choir opened its first broadcast on July 15, 1929. On that day, and many after that, the group used a single microphone.

From time to time, the music directors and management have thought about changing the show's format, but broadcasters have told them, please don't.

"First of all, it inspires, it gives people hope. I think it comforts those who listen and, in general, I think it's an old friend," said Mack Wilberg, music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The choir's president, Mac Christensen, said, "You just want to listen to it. You want to be a part of it, and you realize: What do these people have? And we have something special, we really do."

The choir toured the Midwest in June to huge crowds and great success. The 360 members are all volunteers who pass a rigorous audition process and can stay with the choir for 20 years.

The choir will celebrate the 80-year mark on Sunday.

Wilberg said, "For those of us who are involved, particularly this coming Sunday, it's a great honor and privilege."

The broadcast is on more than 2,000 radio, TV, cable and satellite stations, as well as on the internet.

Following the broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word," there will be a special program.

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Story compiled with contributions from Carole Mikita and Mary Richards.

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