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After 40 years, “Morning Edition” debuts a new theme song

Did you hear it? “Morning Edition” has a new theme song that echoes the melody listeners know and love, yet brings it into the new century with a mixture of real and electronic instruments – and a beat. It debuted yesterday and has made headlines, including in the New York Times.

According to NPR CEO Jarl Mohn, producers want to make every aspect of “Morning Edition” as engaging and ear-catching as possible. He says a new theme song is a way to better reflect what the show is and attract listeners who have not yet discovered its dynamic mix of engaging, informative, and often surprising stories about today’s world.

The new suite of music plays homage to composer BJ Leiderman’s original. It’s warm, fresh, weighted, smart, modern, energetic and very human. It includes acoustic and electronic drums, a string ensemble, acoustic piano, piano and keyboard samples, and a pedal steel guitar.

To compose the new theme, NPR collaborated with Man Made Music, who has created some of today’s most recognizable sounds, including for HBO and IMAX. NPR chose Man Made Music because they “respect, understand and value the unique sound of public radio, and know how to represent ‘Morning Edition’ sonically so that it can stand out in a crowded audio landscape.”

The original theme song debuted in the first “Morning Edition” broadcast on Nov. 5, 1979. In addition to the “Morning Edition” theme song, BJ composed the “Weekend Edition” and “Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!” theme songs.

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