Lloyd Newell will deliver his last broadcast for “Music & the Spoken Word” on Sunday as Derrick Porter prepares to become the newest voice of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

During this season of change for the choir, Newell, Porter and choir president Michael Leavitt spoke to media in the historic Salt Lake Tabernacle. “Music & the Spoken Word” is the world’s longest-running broadcast.

“This is not an easy thing for me,” said Newell as he stood where he’s delivered countless sermons for the broadcast before. “And yet, at the same time, it’s a happy thing.”

Newell and his wife will soon travel to Los Angeles to preside over a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Porter, an entrepreneur, will replace Newell as the new executive producer, principal writer and presenter of “Music & the Spoken Word.”

It’s a calling Newell has served in for 34 years. President Gordon B. Hinckley of the Church of Jesus Christ had invited Newell to fill in for the broadcast — and by 1991, Newell was the official narrator.

Newell said it was difficult for him to not feel some emotion as he stood in the tabernacle that pioneers built and where “Music & the Spoken Word” has been performed for 95 years.

“I was blessed to be part of this,” said Newell.

At the same time, Newell said he was looking forward to change and growing in new ways. “As President (Russell M.) Nelson said to me just the other day, the eternal progression of change is part of life.”

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After Newell delivers his last words on Sunday, Porter will address the audience for the first time on June 23.

Porter said the calling “came as a complete shock and surprise.”

“I consider it a great privilege,” said Porter. “I’ve had opportunity to bring visitors and guests here to this broadcast from around the world in conjunction with my work.”

Lloyd Newell, Derrick Porter and President Michael O. Leavitt talk as they announce Porter as the new voice of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 14, 2024. Porter’s first "Music & the Spoken Word" broadcast will be on June 23. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Every time he brought guests to the broadcast, Porter said they walked away impressed with the choir’s mission.

Leavitt said the narrator of “Music & the Spoken Word” is not won by audition. It’s a calling extended by the president of the Church of Jesus Christ, and the narrator represents the sponsor of the program.

“The choir, in many ways, is an interface with the world,” said Leavitt. “It is a well-known symbol of the church.” Leavitt explained that’s why the role of narrator is decided prayerfully by the prophet.

“This is the choir’s program,” said Newell, explaining that the narrator is to deliver a message that people of all faiths across the globe can connect with.

“This is not the show of Lloyd Newell and Derrick Porter. It’s not about us,” said Newell. “This is the choir, its music and the legacy of this beloved institution that was formed by Brigham Young.”

Saying that he will miss Newell, Leavitt said the mission call is another sermon for Newell. As Leavitt has worked with Porter to prepare for his upcoming broadcasts, Leavitt said “his gifts are now becoming abundantly clear.”

Porter said he doesn’t have a background in television and broadcasting, but has been an avid listener of the program.

“Through my work experience, however, I have had opportunity to, on many, many occasions, address groups of people of varying sizes around the globe, I believe that that has contributed to hopefully the confidence that I feel in moving forward in this way,” said Porter. “But in many ways, it is a new experience, a new opportunity.”

As Porter has prepared to become the voice of “Music & the Spoken Word,” he said he’s reviewed messages from the very beginning of the program.

“I have sought to pay attention to what the leaders of our church have been talking about to understand what is on their minds, what they feel is important for the world to know,” said Porter.

Porter’s also taken to reading writings and commentaries from religious leaders across the world — Christian, Muslim, Jewish and others. He said he’s looking for what’s universal.

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“I sought to build a reservoir from all of these people and have a note on my phone that is many, many, many, many paragraphs long of ideas and thoughts,” said Porter. “I received counsel from President Nelson to just simply begin with a concept — a concept that would be universal in nature, that would be important to people to understand, and then to begin to work from there.”

Reflecting on Newell’s previous service with the broadcast and his upcoming work, Porter said what’s been unique and humbling to think about is how people feel like they know Newell.

“Lloyd may not know everyone, but everyone knows Lloyd,” said Porter, adding he hopes people can walk out of the broadcast “just an inch or two taller.”

Porter said he hopes that people better understand God through his and the choir’s service in the years to come.

Derrick Porter speaks after being announced as the new voice of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square with Lloyd Newell and President Michael O. Leavitt in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 14, 2024. Porter’s first "Music & the Spoken Word" broadcast will be on June 23. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
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