Themes from ‘Dateline’

“Dateline NBC” 2005 – 2006 Theme


For the last few years of its classic era, Dateline used a reorchestrated version of its long-running theme. During the period in which this theme was used, Dateline started to transition away from some of the elements that made the program famous. Classic segments such as the Dateline Timeline – where viewers were asked to guess the year in which certain events took place – were discontinued. The huge set in Studio 3B was replaced with a smaller set in a different studio. And content wise, like other news magazines, Dateline focussed more on true crime stories, becoming known for it’s ‘To Catch a Predator’-series. In another significant change, the role of the anchor was reduced, limiting the necessity of a dedicated but expensive anchor. Hence, Stone Phillips’ contract was not renewed in 2007. This theme was only used for about a year.

Michael Karp Music - Dateline theme

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“Dateline NBC” 1994 – 2005 Theme


In 1994 Dateline NBC commissioned Michael Karp to compose a new theme for them. The result is one of the best themes for a news magazine. It started being used around the time that Dateline moved to a new studio. For the first few years the program was broadcast from the set of NBC Nightly News. But when Today moved to their current street side studio, Dateline took over their old studio on the third floor of Rockefeller Center. For most of the time that this theme was used, Stone Phillips and Jane Pauley co-anchored the program. After Pauley retired in 2003, Ann Curry was added as a co-host in 2005.

Michael Karp Music - Dateline theme

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“Dateline NBC” 1992 – 1994 Theme


Dateline wasn’t NBC’s first news magazine: First Tuesday, Chronolog, First Tuesday (again), NBC Presents a Special Edition, Weekend, Prime Time Sunday, Prime Time Saturday, NBC Magazine with David Brinkley, NBC Magazine, Monitor, First Camera, Summer Sunday, USA, American Almanac, 1986, ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’, Real Life with Jane Pauley and Expose all preceded it. But it was NBC’s first successful news magazine. Yet it came very close to cancellation just after its debut. In 1992 the program featured a report about GM pickup trucks carrying exploding fuel tanks. Dateline’s credibility was nearly destroyed when it was later revealed that the exploding fuel tanks shown in the report exploded only because they were rigged with explosives. Various people involved in the story were fired (including correspondent Brian Ross, who went to ABC and rebounded well career wise). Dateline survived and is, of course, still on the air today. This is the original theme used for the show’s first two years.

Michael Karp Music - Dateline theme

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