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Choir Reenacts First 'Spoken Word'

Choir Reenacts First 'Spoken Word'

Posted - Dec. 3, 2003 at 5:43 p.m.



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Carole Mikita ReportingThe Salt Lake Tabernacle was the scene for a page right out of history today.

The line for hair and make-up stretched out the door and after all the curling and shaving members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir donned hats and bow ties, all of them costumed for a reenactment of July 15th, 1929 -- the first broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word".

Janice Curtis, Mormon Tabernacle Choir: "And how exciting it was for them, can you imagine? Radio was new and they were going to go nationwide."

Documentary filmmaker Lee Groberg tapped into not only the choir's love of history but family ties.

Kathy Newton, Mormon Tabernacle Choir: "My great-grandma was in the choir and I'm hoping that she was in that group. So I'm taking her place today."

While some are thinking about their grandparents today, others are anticipating the feelings of those choir members and that first broadcast.

Ken Jacobsen, Mormon Tabernacle Choir: "Bless their hearts. We're here because of them. The people of 1929 made the choir what it is today."

The re-creation is also attempting to remain true to how rudimentary this broadcast was.

Lee Groberg, Documentary Filmmaker: "They cued the telegraph operator in the basement, he cued KSL, it went online. Of course, online wasn't a term then, but nevertheless, it went out to some 20 or 30 stations."

There was only one big, bulky microphone hand-carried from KSL and placed high on a podium. So the announcer, Ted Kimball, had to use a ladder for his then, one line 'spoken word'.

Tom Rogerson's father, Ken was in that 1929 choir 'first'.

Tom Rogerson, Former Choir Member: "Dad was interviewed one time and he said, 'We didn't even think there'd be a second broadcast'."

No one imagined the initial broadcast would become the longest running in radio history, 75 years and it continues. Lee Groberg's documentary on the choir's 75th anniversary in broadcasting will air on PBS next fall.

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