Themes from ‘Nightline’

“Nightline” Current Theme


It is not so common these days for news themes to last more than 3 or 4 years, but Nightline was the exception in ABC’s news line-up. Several challenges arose, including how to approach the new sound with such a long-lasting previous identity. As the show took on an updated/current look, composers Matthew Kajcienski and Adam Schoenberg were asked to compose the new theme.

ABC wanted a sound that would not only attract the millennial generation, but would still embrace the loyal audiences while carrying Nightline into its next chapter. The theme combines elements of EM, pop, and processed acoustic instruments. The package includes an extensive library of teasers/rejoins that reflect its hip/fresh sonic re-brand. The theme was composed by Matthew Kajcienski and Adam Schoenberg, both classmates and graduates of The Juilliard School, as well as LA neighbors!

Matthew Kajcienski and Adam Schoenberg - Nightline theme

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“Nightline” 2014 – 2018 Theme


For the first time in about a decade, Nightline changed its theme. The new music, like the old, is composed by VideoHelper. During this era, Nightline moved to a later time slot. Jimmy Kimmel’s show brought in a younger audience and thus more profits, so Nightline now airs an hour later. However, ratings are still pretty good. The show frequently beats comedy shows on NBC and CBS.

VideoHelper - Nightline theme

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“Nightline” 2005 – 2014 Theme


After the retirement of its longtime anchor in 2005, Nightline underwent drastic changes that ultimately made the program a ratings winner. Instead of focussing on interviews related to the news of the day — a need that cable news came to fulfill — it became more of a news magazine. Ted Koppel was replaced by a team of three anchors while production of the show moved from Washington to New York. Under the musical direction of VideoHelper’s Joe Saba and Stew Winter, Nightline’s theme was completely revamped. The percussion-driven music certainly makes it stand out from other news music.

VideoHelper - Nightline theme

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“Nightline” 1997 – 2005 Theme


For most of the early years, Nightline used the World News Tonight theme to open the broadcast. That changed in 1997 when they started using a theme that they would use through the rest of the Ted Koppel years. He retired in 2005, amidst a flurry of network anchor retirement parties. During the last few months of his run, they experimented slightly with the program. One of the things they tried was doing multiple topics. During their months of experiments, Nightline used cold opens, so this theme was used until a few months before the retirement of Koppel.

Edd Kalehoff - Nightline theme

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“Nightline” 1984 – 1989 Headlines


Nightline started out as a series of special reports to update viewers late at night on the Iranian hostage crisis. Those special reports were called “America Held Hostage” and anchored by Frank Reynolds, lead anchor of World News Tonight. But he did not like doing double duty and Ted Koppel started substituting regularly. When the program officially debuted as Nightline, Ted Koppel was officially the anchor. The program was known for covering just one topic per broadcast, which allowed it to go in depth like no other news program on network television. Nightline used the World News Tonight theme for its first few years. But in the eighties this pulsing music was played while Ted Koppel told us what’s coming up on the broadcast. It might have been intended to be a main theme for Nightline because after about a minute the music evolves into something that sounds like a main theme.

Score Productions - Nightline theme

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