After 40 Years, NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ Changes Its Tune


For 40 years, NPR’s “Morning Edition” has welcomed listeners to this system with the identical ethereal theme tune. On Monday, that can change.

For the primary time because it started broadcasting in 1979, this system is changing its signature tune with a propulsive and layered new theme that options actual and digital devices whereas nonetheless paying homage to the buoyant melody its almost 14 million weekly listeners have come to know and love.

“It’s not a decision that we took on lightly,” mentioned Meg Goldthwaite, NPR’s chief advertising and marketing officer. “We wished to freshen the music and get it prepared for what we hope will probably be one other 50 years. It simply felt prefer it was time.”

The new theme is meant to draw a youthful and extra various viewers, whereas additionally aligning with the evolution of “Morning Edition” right into a newsier program, mentioned Kenya Young, the manager producer.

“I wanted a sound and a mood and a tone and a feel and a vibe all mixed in one,” she mentioned.

NPR had flirted with changing the “Morning Edition” theme for years — ever since Jarl Mohn became chief executive of the nonprofit in 2014 — but the idea didn’t really take hold until last fall, as the organization began preparing for the program’s 40th anniversary this year, according to Ms. Goldthwaite.

Once NPR decided to proceed, it enlisted Man Made Music, a music and sound studio that has worked on similar efforts for HBO, Imax and others.

The process began broadly, with a small group of employees from both organizations sitting in a room together to listen to a wide variety of music styles and to discuss what emotions the songs elicited.

Man Made Music also identified a set of qualities the new theme should embody, including the intimacy between “Morning Edition” and its listeners, who often tune in as they prepare for the day; the integrity of the program’s reporting; and the sense of discovery that characterizes its broadcasts.

The firm then presented NPR with a wide-ranging set of themes, each of which paid tribute in some way to the fanfare of the original. After a small group of NPR employees settled on the music that would become the current theme, they shared it with their colleagues.

“We were all holding our breath when we showed it to the entire ‘Morning Edition’ team when it was all done,” Ms. Goldthwaite said. “We were thrilled when they literally busted into dance.”

The new theme features a range of sounds, reflecting the “eclecticism” of NPR, according to Amy Crawford, a vice president at Man Made Music. The instruments used to create it include acoustic and electronic drums, a string ensemble, acoustic piano, piano and keyboard samples, and a pedal steel guitar, she said.

In February, Mr. Mohn, the chief executive, alerted member stations to the change, explaining that audience research had shown that listeners found the old theme to be warm, but not especially “energetic, fresh and modern.” The new theme, he said, “is warm, fresh, weighted, smart, modern, energetic and very human.”



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