Themes from ‘Other’

“Top Story w/Tom Llamas” Theme

“Top Story w/Tom Llamas” is the primetime news show on the NBC News Now platform. The theme is produced by Current Music, with composers Matthew Sikora and Elizabeth Forde. Current Music, a boutique custom music and licensing house, has created 25 news, sports and talk show theme packages as of September 2021. The founders, Christian Salyer and Maddie Madsen, have over 50 years experience combined in the custom music and licensing space. They started Current Music in 2013.

Current Music – Top Story w/Tom Llamas theme

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“Stay Tuned” Current Theme

Stay Tuned is NBC News’ twice-a-day show on Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram. The theme was composed by The Perch, a new L.A. based boutique studio. Lead composer Matthew Kajcienski explained to us that it took quite a different approach when compared to writing for network or cable news shows. Because it airs on a social media platform, the audience will likely be watching the show on a smartphone, which means reduced audio quality. “From a sonic perspective, we had to keep in mind how certain orchestration, musical range, and instrumental sonorities perform when listening on such devices, ” according to Kajcienski.

Form was also a rather big departure from most other news shows. Stay Tuned is an incredibly condensed newscast, lasting only about two minutes. The theme package consists of four versions of the theme that convey different moods for different stories and an extensive set of short, transitional tracks (“the glue”). “With such a condensed broadcast format, quick transitions, and abrupt advertising breaks (especially), the theme had to be extremely flexible in how it could be edited together, yet with so many musical components, blend together seamlessly as not to feel like the music is chopped up into little pieces,” explains Kajcienski.

The Perch – Stay Tuned theme

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“Rock Center” 2012 – 2013 Theme

This news magazine is named after the location of NBC News headquarters in the GE Building at 30 Rockefeller Center. It’s NBC’s first new news magazine since Now with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric debuted in 1993. Rock Center is more serious than Dateline NBC which primarily focusses on crime. Rock Center also covers more topics whereas Dateline features just one story these days. While critics consider Rock Center a smart show, viewers didn’t like it as much. It was cancelled in 2013. This is the show’s second opening theme. It’s a more dramatic and serious version of the original open.

Gordon Miller – Rock Center theme

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“Chris Matthews Show” 2009 – 2013 Theme

In 2009 the Chris Matthews Show received a new theme. It’s written by John Williams and is part of the 2004 update he did of The Mission, his theme for NBC News. This particular cut, which you can hear below in full, was intended as the new theme for NBC Nightly News. In fact, the last 15 seconds are indeed used for Nightly. However the opening fanfare in the front part was not used. When the Chris Matthews Show started using it, it became the first non-NBC News program to use The Mission. As a syndicated program, the Chris Matthews does not air exclusively on NBC affiliates.

John Williams – Chris Matthews Show theme

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“State Funeral of Ronald Reagan” Music

For the state funeral of former president Ronald Reagan, NBC chose this solemn piece composed by Michael Karp. It’s called Requiem. Tom Brokaw anchored, in what was one of his last major broadcasts as NBC’s lead anchor before stepping down as anchor of Nightly News.

Michael Karp – State Funeral of Ronald Reagan

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“Operation: Iraqi Freedom” Theme

The 2003 war in Iraq had a long and protracted build up to it. This meant that news organizations had ample time to get ready. All networks built special sets, designed custom graphics and commissioned appropriate theme music. Major news is a branding opportunity for news organizations. This theme, by Michael Karp, was used during the initial days of the war on NBC and MSNBC.

Michael Karp – Operation: Iraqi Freedom theme

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“Chris Matthews Show” 2002 – 2009 Theme

The Chris Matthews Show is a half-hour show airing on Sunday mornings that debuted in 2002 and focusses on politics. It consists of the roundtable format that the network public affairs shows have pioneered and perfected. However, the panelists are almost exclusively journalists, not politicians or political professionals. The show is produced by NBC News but is syndicated, meaning that it doesn’t necessarily air on NBC affiliated stations. The theme music is by Man Made Music.

Man Made Music – Chris Matthews Show theme

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“Later Today” Theme

Later Today was the second installment of the Today franchise that was created in 1999. It aired at 9 a.m. (in most markets), right after the Today Show. It was a talk show focusing on women hosted by Jodi Applegate, Asha Blake and Florence Henderson. Henderson may be best known as Carol Brady, she was actually a “Today-girl” in the late 1950’s. Later Today lasted only one season and was replaced by an extra hour of the Today Show.

Michael Karp – Later Today theme

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“Nightside” 1997 – 1998 Theme

NBC Nightside was NBC’s second overnight newscast. The program started in 1991 and was produced in Charlotte, North Carolina by the NBC News Channel. That is not the same as MSNBC. It is the service, comparable to a wire service, that provides customized reports and video of national news to NBC affiliates. Some of Nightside’s many anchors included Antonia Mora and Campbell Brown. While the program was financially profitable and did well in the ratings, it was discontinued in 1999 because NBC wanted to use the overnight timeslot to air repeats of their late night comedy shows. The theme is composed by Michael Karp.

Michael Karp – NBC News Nightside theme

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“1986” Theme

1986 was NBC’s fourteenth attempt in seventeen years to launch a successful newsmagazine. It debuted in June of 1986 and lasted for only twenty broadcasts. The co-anchors were Roger Mudd and Connie Chung, who left NBC News at Sunrise to join 1986. The idea behind this news magazine was to emulate the hipper news magazine on CBS that debuted a year earlier, West 57th. 1986’s zippier format was reflected in the on-air appearance of the show. The studio was big and bare with no traditional anchor desk in sight. Instead Chung and Mudd sat on an L-shaped bench. The theme music wasn’t traditional either. It didn’t contain the usual brass and heavy percussion. Instead it primarily features drums and bass with some synthesized flourishes to keep it interesting. Richard Honoroff is the composer.

Richard Honoroff – 1986 theme

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“Before Hours” Close

The program may have been forgotten, the theme certainly is not forgettable. This is Part II of The Mission by John Williams; originally titled as the “Fugue For Changing Times”. Before Hours was a 15-minute business news program that was a joint production of NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. It was anchored by Bob Jamieson, who was a frequent substitute news anchor on the Today Show, and the weather reports were provided by Joe Witte. The program was on the air from March 1987 to September 1988

John Williams – Before Hours close (The Mission, part II – Fugue for Changing Times)

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“NBC News Overnight”

“You hear something that may be music or may be the sound Donald Duck would make if you held his head underwater a while,” that is how Linda Ellerbee, co-anchor of NBC News Overnight, described this theme once. NBC News Overnight premiered on July 5, 1982 with co-anchors Linda Ellerbee and Lloyd Dobyns. After six months, Bill Schechner replaced Dobyns. ‘Overnight’ was a one hour live overnight news show which pioneered the format of serious news mixed with features and irreverence–a format ABC’s World News Now later adopted. Though the program had many loyal fans, it was never a ratings success and cancelled after only seventeen months.

Michael Devon – NBC News Overnight theme

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