TV/Radio Program Makes History in Europe & AmericaWhen the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on July 15, 2009 will celebrate its 80th year of broadcasting the CBS Network program of Music and the Spoken Word, the longest continuous program in the history of radio broadcasting, throughout the United States, the Choir can proudly mark another milestone in Europe–30 years of uninterrupted weekly broadcasts of Music and the Spoken Word in Denmark, the longest continuous broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word anywhere in the world outside of the United States.
Music and the Spoken Word is a 30-minute Sunday devotional program, featuring a universal message of faith and hope from the scriptures, originally broadcast from Salt Lake City, Utah, the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes referred to as the LDS or “Mormon” Church). The program is extended to listeners and friends of all faiths on more than 2,000 radio and television stations and cable systems. It has since been broadcast from locations around the country and across the world. Since its first broadcast, the program was an immediate success.
The president of the radio network:”Your wonderful Tabernacle program is making great impression in New York. Have heard from leading ministers. All impressed by program. Egerly awaiting your next.” And the program was off and running (website history). In 1974 a group of music interested people founded the Danish Society in Support of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Danish Tabernacle Choir Society) a Non Profit Society, with the object of diffusing knowledge of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and its music. The society is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the membership consists of both LDS and non-LDS lovers of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was the society that introduced the European public to the recordings of the Choir and has for many years sent several of the choirs Columbia recordings to the press for review.
Newspaper reviews and public demand were so interesting that the European branch office of CBS Records decided finally to start manufacturing recordings by the choir at their plants in England and The Netherlands. Several of the choir’s albums were CBS Classical Album of the Month for several months and topped the charts as classical best sellers. In cooperation with Iain McKay, Director of International Media at Bonneville Communications in Salt Lake City, the Danish Tabernacle Choir Society opened for Music and the Spoken Word to be broadcast on Danish radio in 1979 and latter also on Danish television, only a few years before the choir went on its 2nd grand tour of Scandinavia. The first Danish speaker was Walder Hartmann, followed 10 years later by a Dane from London, Tom Ahlmann.
Danish host on the show today is Kent Gade Olesen, President of the Society and Scandinavian Producer of Music and The Spoken Word since it began some 30 years ago. The radio broadcasts of Music and the Spoken Word in Denmark have numbered up to 45 stations covering a substantial area of Denmark. As many stations join forces in these years and start networking, we presently serve between 20 and 30 stations in a weekly basis, now also in such far destinations as Greenland, Faroe Islands and Norway, and the choirs seasonal programmes is broadcast by more than 50-60 stations throughout Scandinavia.
The Society was also involved in a special one hour production of Christmas with Sissel, a Norwegian Singing Sensation that has sung with the Choir in 2005 celebrating the Norwegian Centennial and for the Choirs famous Christmas Concerts in 2006. A special of the concert were produced with Sissel narrating in Norwegian. The program were shown by all major state networks in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Greenland in prime time on Christmas Eve in both 2007 and 2008, and were broadcast also on many channels throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
It is with great pride that The Danish Tabernacle Choir Society and the producer of Music and the Spoken Word, Bonneville Communications in Salt Lake City, begin its 30th year of broadcasting in Denmark. The choir, directed by Mack Wilberg, have just finished recording the familiar open and close (Gently Raise the Sacred Strain and God Be with You) in Danish language, a fantastic new adding to the Danish broadcasts. Danish narrator Kent Gade Olesen (left) with Ed Payne, Producer of Music and The Spoken Word in the Bonneville Studios in Salt Lake City. Photo: Debra Gehris, Mormon Tabernacle Choir.