It’s the public radio equivalent of changing the theme song for 6ABC’s Action News.
For the first time since its launch in 1979, NPR’s signature Morning Edition program has replaced its intro music, a jingle that’s become part of the morning routine for nearly 14 million weekly listeners in Philadelphia and across the country.
“For 40 years, we have basically had the same theme song, though it has gone through many changes,” Morning Edition’s David Green said during Monday’s broadcast.
“The classic melody is still intact, but the feel, the whole vibe, has been given an update,” co-host Rachel Martin added.
Here’s the old theme song:
And here’s the new theme song, which debuted Monday morning on WHYY and other NPR affiliates nationwide:
NPR collaborated with Man Made Music, which has scored the Super Bowl for NBC and helped HBO reimagine its feature presentation intro, to come up with a new theme that mixes live instrumentation and a range of sounds into a mix inspired by the work of BJ Leiderman, the composer of the classic Morning Edition theme as well as the intros of Weekend Edition and Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!
(Leiderman also composed lyrics for the old Morning Edition theme song that were never used, which began, “Oh I hate to get up in the morning... Please don’t wake me up this morning.”)
“I wanted a sound and a mood and a tone and a feel and a vibe all mixed in one,” Morning News executive producer Kenya Young told the New York Times.
One downside of the change for local NPR affiliates is the space given to promote local news stories has been reduced from 11 seconds down to seven seconds, meaning morning hosts like WHYY’s Jennifer Lynn will have to cut their copy down to the bone to squeeze it in.
“That’s kind of a big adjustment we had to make, as Jennifer had to figure out how to say something important, but in fewer words," said Naomi Starobin, WHYY’s radio general manager.
Despite that, Starobin said, she likes the new theme song, which she said payed homage to Leiderman’s long-standing intro while having a “much fresher, more vibrant” feel.
The change is also intended help attract a younger and more diverse audience to the long-running news program, especially in a world where listening habits for many have shifted away from their radios to their phones.