Themes from ‘Michael Karp’

“Decision 2016” Theme


For the 2016 election, composer Michael Karp revised his legendary NBC election theme that has been on the air since 2004. It includes an entirely new thematic section, a new vamp section and other minor updates. In addition to MSNBC and CNBC, NBC also uses it for various election events such as “The Commander-in-Chief Forum”.

Michael Karp - NBC Decision 2016 theme

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“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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“Decision 2004/2006/2008” Theme


Election themes don’t get much better than this. Michael Karp composed this theme which NBC used for the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections. Decision 2004 was the last election anchored by Tom Brokaw who retired days later from NBC Nightly News. He anchored from a huge set built on and around Rockefeller Plaza (which was temporarily renamed Democracy Plaza). MSNBC started using this theme again in 2012 for its election coverage and continues to use it in the 2016 election.

Michael Karp Music - Decision 2004 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 a beautiful piece of music. Tom Brokaw anchored, in what was one of his last major broadcasts as NBC’s lead anchor before his retirement.

Michael Karp Music - 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. And they certainly made use of that time. All networks built special sets, designed special graphics and commissioned special themes. But the real costs of covering war lie in sending reporters to the front lines and making sure they are protected (think of body guards and armored vehicles). This theme, by Michael Karp, was used during the initial days of the war on NBC and MSNBC.

Michael Karp Music - Operation: Iraqi Freedom 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 real Today Show.

Michael Karp Music - Later Today 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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“NBC News Nightside” 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, by the way, 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 Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. The theme is composed by Michael Karp.

Michael Karp Music - NBC News Nightside theme

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