Backed by a tradition of using cutting-edge technology in spreading the message of the restored gospel, the Church on May 18 debuted a new radio station, Mormon Channel, for broadcast over the Internet and HD (digital) Radio.
"It's exciting to have a new audio service going from Temple Square 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the first time," said Elder John B. Dickson of the Seventy, executive director of the Church Audiovisual Department.
"Literally, this can go worldwide, and it's under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve," said Elder Dickson, who characterized the occasion as "a historic day in the Church."
"We're looking at a world with a lot of negativity, and at the same time a lot of good content. But this is an opportunity for the Church to put out positive, compelling content that would be very appealing to not only members of the Church but those who aren't members of the Church, all across the world."
Chris Twitty, director of digital marketing for the Church, said the new audio channel can be accessed live on the Internet at radio.lds.org and may also be downloaded for later listening.
In addition, Brother Twitty said, the channel is available on HD Radio, for listeners equipped with HD receivers. He explained that it is a fairly new service comparable to digital television.
"In the same way that you can get more than one channel now with digital TV, where you used to be able to get one, with HD Radio, you can get more than one radio channel where you used to be able to get one."
In the Salt Lake City radio market, for example, Mormon Channel is accessible on the Church-owned KSL-FM radio frequency, 102.7, as channel number two.
"So in Salt Lake City, if you have one of these HD radios at home, in the office or in your car, and you go to 102.7, number 2, there will be the Mormon Channel available to you," he said.
He emphasized that there is no monthly charge to get an HD Radio channel. All that is necessary is the receiver.
He said Mormon Channel is available anywhere that the Church's Bonneville International Corp. has a station. In addition to Salt Lake City, that includes seven other American markets: Washington, D.C.; Chicago, Ill.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Seattle, Wash.; Cincinnati, Ohio; and St. Louis, Mo.
"We're trying to create the most compelling audio service that we can and we're trying to distribute it in as many different ways as makes sense," Brother Twitty said.
Thus, content is varied, including standard Church programming such as Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcasts and concerts, general conference sessions and informational packages about the doctrines, history and news of the Church, including several segments focusing on children and teenagers. Sources for program content include BYU, LDS Business College, the Institute near the University of Utah and other Church entities. The Deseret News, including the Church News and Mormon Times, will also be a source for programming.
"We have 20 new programs involved in this," Elder Dickson said. He mentioned the inaugural installment of a program called "Conversations" featured Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, being interviewed by Sheri Dew, president and CEO of Deseret Book Co.
"It doesn't matter whether you're an older adult or young single adult or youth, it's very, very compelling, great content."
Elder Dickson said the archives of the Church contain audio material that is "being mined for this, very compelling stories from the past."
Brother Twitty noted that many Church members have never heard the voices of Church presidents in the recent past, for example, and are only acquainted with them through their writings; through Mormon Channel, they will be able to hear them.
David C. Nielson, managing director of the Church Audiovisual Department, said a recent Arbitron study found that listeners to audio content on the Internet are 42 million strong in the United States and growing.
"The new channel is a throw-back to radio, but it's also on the cutting edge of new media," he said, explaining that the channel can be shared on social networking Internet sites.
"Also, there is the ability to get that content over a mobile phone anywhere in the world. So we're combining both the long tradition of the Church in broadcasting with cutting-edge social media. We think it's a great, powerful combination, both in honoring the past and taking advantage of new technology."
Elder Dickson called the new radio channel "a great part of what happens in the last days."
"If you have a computer and you have Internet capacity, you can pick this up, it doesn't matter where you are on the face of the earth," he said. "It's wonderful that we have the technology to make this happen, to get a positive, compelling message from the Brethren as they'd like it to go to the world."