A Historic Look at the Church and Media

Contributed By Ryan Morgenegg, Church News staff writer

  • 8 October 2014

On October 4, 1946, President George Albert Smith foretold that broadcasts would one day deliver the gospel message worldwide.

Speaking about his experience using a two-way short-wave hookup at the home of a friend in Salt Lake City, Utah, President George Albert Smith made the following prophecy in his general conference address given on October 4, 1946: “Short-wave broadcasting will continue to improve, and it will not be long until, from this pulpit and other places that will be provided, the servants of the Lord will be able to deliver messages to isolated groups who are so far away they cannot be reached. In that way and other ways, the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord, the only power of God unto salvation in preparation for the celestial kingdom, will be heard in all parts of the world, and many of you who are here will live to see that day.”

Heber J. Grant and George Albert Smith delivering the first Church broadcast over KZN (now KSL). Photo courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

Elder Richard L. Evans began announcing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's weekly program of Music and the Spoken Word in 1930 and continued to do so for decades. Source: mormonchannel.org.

Gordon B. Hinckley was a scriptwriter for the radio program The Fulness of Times.

The first televised general conference of the Church was in October of 1949. KSL employees John Powell and David Searle are shown with their cameras.
Photo courtesy of Deseret News Archives.

1888: The earliest Church recording was made by President Wilford Woodruff with help from his son. It was recorded on a wax cylinder.

May 6, 1922: The first Church broadcast given over the radio was delivered by President Heber J. Grant in Utah on station KZN (now KSL).

October 1924: General conference was broadcast by radio for the first time.

July 15, 1929: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir began its weekly broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word. This program is the oldest continuing radio broadcast in American history.

March 3, 1933: The first efforts to carry the gospel through mass media began with a series of six national broadcasts over CBS called the Church of the Air.

September 1938: The Fulness of Times, a dramatic radio series presenting the history of the Church, began its broadcast. Gordon B. Hinckley was a scriptwriter for this radio drama.

October 1949: The 119th Semiannual General Conference became the first televised general conference of the Church.

April 5, 1952: The priesthood session of general conference was carried by direct telephone wire to buildings outside Temple Square for the first time.

April 1963: WRUL broadcast the 133rd Annual General Conference in languages other than English and Spanish. For the first time, conference was broadcast in German and Portuguese as well.

1979: The first satellite broadcasts of general conference were produced.

1997: The Church established an official Church website.

October 2001: In preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the Church launched www.mormon.org, designed specifically for those who are not members of the Church.

April 2008: The Church launched its own Facebook page and Twitter account.

August 7, 2008: The Church launched a YouTube channel, Mormon Messages, to share inspirational videos with the world.

May 18, 2009: The Mormon Channel was launched as the radio station of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormon Channel broadcasts 24/7 over the Internet and HD radio, and it has its own iPhone application.

Source: mormonchannel.org

The Church started an official public Facebook page in 2008.

Mormon Messages includes a popular series of videos on the Church's YouTube page.

Graphic by Aaron Thorup.