Buses Bring Tourists to “Music and the Spoken Word”

Contributed By Noelle Baldwin, Church News contributor

  • 25 August 2016

A tour bus is parked at the west gate of Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • Music and the Spoken Word has been broadcast on the radio for 87 years.
  • Each week dozens of buses line up along West Temple to bring tour groups to watch the show live.

A single microphone in the Tabernacle on Temple Square was the main piece of recording equipment that carried the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Music and the Spoken Word program on its first radio broadcast on July 15, 1929. For 87 years the program has been broadcast on the radio, making it one of the longest running programs in the United States. Then in 1962 the broadcast also started appearing on television.

“Today Music and the Spoken Word is viewed with increasing frequency on social media channels, such as YouTube, Facebook, and the choir website by people around the world, from the United States and Chile to the Philippines and England” (see Mormon Tabernacle Choir website).

Thousands of people listen to and watch the program all over the world on television, radio, or online. In fact, during the choir’s recent European tour, many concert attendees described their joy at being able to hear the choir live after listening to Music and the Spoken Word for years. Each week the broadcast is aired in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and twice a year, for the program preceding general conference, it is translated into over 60 languages.

Even with all of the ways to watch electronically, hundreds still flock to Temple Square or the Conference Center to hear the program live. Each week dozens of buses line up along West Temple to bring tour groups to Music and the Spoken Word.

A cellist sings “God Be with You” with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square during the signature closing after the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast in Salt Lake City, Sunday, July 31, 2016. Photo courtesy of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings during the Music and the Spoken Word program in Salt Lake City, Sunday, July 31, 2016. Photo courtesy of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Peggy Richards, who drives a tour bus for Holiday Motor Coach, said that in the summer months, “We get tours continuously.” Sister Richards said that she brings people from all over the world, including groups from China, Australia, Korea, and many other countries. During the high tourist season—May through September—she is home only long enough to “do [her] laundry” before she drives another tour.

On Sunday, July 31, she brought a tour of Chinese immersion program teachers to Music and the Spoken Word and to tour Temple Square. The teachers will work in schools around the state. Sister Richards, who is a native of Salt Lake City, said that the teachers were trying to get a feel for the culture in Utah. Other stops on their tour included the Utah Capitol Building and Antelope Island.

City Sights Inc., which has specialized in sightseeing tours around Salt Lake City for more than 30 years, conducts a Mormon Tabernacle Choir tour that brings people from around the United States and other countries to listen to the choir’s weekly broadcasts and rehearsals. Michael Williams, owner of City Sights Inc., said that most of his tours are filled with people from across the United States, but about 5 percent come from other countries.

Mr. Williams also said that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir tour, which visits other Salt Lake sites as well, is one of their most popular tours. “Our tour guides give a great tour,” but the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square are always the highlight of the tour. “Nothing else compares,” he said. They average about 20 people on their tour every Sunday for the broadcast.

Music and the Spoken Word takes place each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. During the summer and the month of December it is held in the Conference Center, while the rest of the year it is held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. For more information on how to attend a broadcast or to view a past broadcast, visit mormontabernaclechoir.org or musicandthespokenword.com.

Chinese immersion program teachers walk to the Conference Center to attend the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast in Salt Lake City, Sunday, July 31, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Tour buses are parked at the west gate of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Sunday, July 31, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

People leave the Conference Center after attending Music and the Spoken Word in Salt Lake City, Sunday, July 31, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

M'Kala Robinson, center, smiles as she leaves the Conference Center after Music and the Spoken Word in Salt Lake City, Sunday, July 31, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Visitors to Salt Lake cross the street to Temple Square after attending Music and the Spoken Word in Salt Lake City, Sunday, July 31, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra on Temple Square is seen at the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast in Salt Lake City, Sunday, July 31, 2016. Photo courtesy of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Visitors to the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast walk to their seats in Salt Lake City, Sunday, July 31, 2016. Photo courtesy of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

A woman takes a picture before the broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word in Salt Lake City, Sunday, July 31, 2016. Photo courtesy of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.