As Lloyd Newell says goodbye to ‘Music & the Spoken Word,’ Derrick Porter introduces himself

The 42-year-old father of six has no previous broadcasting experience but isn’t a stranger to public speaking

Derrick Porter has built a career around entrepreneurship, including running a distribution business and a global beauty products business. Through his work, he’s often spoken to groups of various sizes around the world.

So although becoming the voice of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s weekly “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is a new experience in many ways, Porter said his professional background contributed to his preparation for and confidence about his upcoming role.

He recalled how his wife and parents, after finding out he’d be the new “Spoken Word” narrator, laughed about how Porter used to imitate Lloyd Newell’s voice as sessions of general conference started. Newell is the outgoing narrator for “Spoken Word,” a position he held for over 30 years, and is stepping down to lead the California Los Angeles Mission with his wife, Karmel, starting in July.

“My hope is that I might be able to just take a little bit of [Lloyd Newell’s] voice and ... express the same honor and dignity,” Porter said.

The purpose of “Spoken Word,” he continued, is “helping people to know not necessarily Derrick Porter, but to better know the divine. To better know God.”

Derrick Porter speaks after being introduced 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, 2024. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Porter shared his thoughts during a news conference at the Tabernacle at Temple Square on Friday, June 14. He was joined by Newell and by Tabernacle Choir President Michael Leavitt.

Speaking with visible emotion, Newell said it’s difficult to find words for what “Spoken Word” means to him. Leaving the program wasn’t an easy decision, he said, but the Newells are excited for their next adventure as mission leaders.

“Meeting with and talking with people from literally all over the world, as well as broadcasting live every week for almost 35 years, has been a distinct privilege and honor and blessing that is difficult to capture in a few sentences,” Newell said.

Later, he spoke about the many times he felt over the years that God had called him to serve with the “Spoken Word” program. Now, he has that same feeling about missionary service, he said.

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He advised Porter to “cherish this association. There’s not a greater audience in the world, and there are not better people to surround yourselves with.”

Newell’s last broadcast with the choir is this Sunday, June 16. Porter will deliver his first message the following week on June 23.

“Music & the Spoken Word” is now in its 95th year and is the world’s longest running broadcast. For more information about “Music & the Spoken Word,” visit

Lloyd Newell, left, and Derrick Porter stand together as Porter is introduced 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, 2024. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

New callings

Newell announced his departure on Dec. 10, 2023, but he and wife have continued serving with the choir since then. Beside Lloyd Newell’s over three decades as announcer, Karmel Newell has been the Tabernacle Choir’s director of member support for about two years.

Porter was announced as the new executive producer, principal writer and presenter of “Music & the Spoken Word” in March 2024. He and his wife, Rebecca, live with their six children, ages 3 through 17, in Bountiful, Utah.

During Friday’s news conference, Porter expressed his hope that his “Spoken Word” responsibilities will become a “family affair.” Karmel Newell’s advice to Rebecca Porter was to enjoy the experience and allow their family to become part of it, he said.

“These experiences that we all have in our lives are only as good as the opportunity that we give to them to let [them] change us,” Porter said. “And so we hope that [this] will help bind us together as a family ... and provide for unique and memorable opportunities along the way.”

Porter added that he’s often taught best by his children, and he’s already anticipating how they’ll impact his “Spoken Word” messages.

Tabernacle Choir President Leavitt said Porter’s gifts are becoming “abundantly clear” as he makes this transition.

Narrating “Music & the Spoken Word” isn’t an auditioned role, President Leavitt emphasized, but a calling considered prayerfully and extended by the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The narrator represents the Church, but they also connect with listeners of all different faiths, and some people who otherwise aren’t religiously affiliated think of “Spoken Word” as their church services, President Leavitt said.

He continued that Lloyd Newell has lived up to the responsibilities of this calling for his three-plus decades as narrator, delivering 1,752 “digestible sermons and insights.”

Newell has become “one of the most prolific and influential contributors of inspirational literature in modern media,” President Leavitt said.

Longtime "Music & the Spoken Word" narrator Lloyd Newell speaks as Derrick Porter is introduced 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, 2024. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

About ‘Music & the Spoken Word’

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s Sunday morning show first aired more than 94 years ago on July 15, 1929, with 19-year-old Ted Kimball standing on a ladder to reach the microphone to announce each musical number.

Richard L. Evans was the first regular announcer of “Music & the Spoken Word” from the summer of 1930 until 1971 — more than 41 years. Spence Kinard presented the “Spoken Word” from 1972 to 1990.

Newell’s first official time presenting the “Spoken Word” was on March 31, 1991. He had been filling in since the end of November 1990.

When he was extended the calling, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, said it would be until further notice.

“And now that further notice has come,” Newell said when he announced his departure.

Newell had worked as a television news anchor and at the time of his call to “Spoken Word” was traveling the world as a corporate trainer and consultant.

He’s also taught at Brigham Young University as a professor of religious education. Karmel Newell worked as an adjunct professor in BYU’s Marriott School of Management.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the choir and orchestra were on hiatus from performing. In late 2021, Lloyd Newell began writing new “Spoken Word” messages and inserting them into the encore “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcasts until the choir and orchestra began live performances.

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Episode 192: Lloyd and Karmel Newell on their service with the Tabernacle Choir and their future as mission leaders
First Presidency announces a new voice for the Tabernacle Choir’s ‘Music & the Spoken Word'
Voice of ‘Music & the Spoken Word’ Lloyd Newell announces end of Tabernacle Choir service
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