Themes from ‘Michael Karp’

“The Vote” 2018 Theme


For the 2018 midterm election, NBC went back to the theme that is since 2004 most closely associated with its election coverage. Composer Michael Karp did some additional versions of the election theme for NBC and MSNBC that were used in addition to the 2016 versions. The longevity of the theme is amazing. NBC did, however, replace it’s longtime Decision moniker with new branding: “The Vote: America’s Future”

Michael Karp – The Vote theme

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“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 in New York was torn down. And content wise, like other news magazines, Dateline focussed more on true crime stories, becoming known for its ‘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 – 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 for the 2004 presidential election on NBC. Since then it has become a staple of NBC’s election coverage. While a new theme was composed in 2010, Karp’s music remained in use on MSNBC. In 2018 the theme once again became the main theme for coverage on NBC. It’s a beloved theme.

Michael Karp – 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 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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“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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“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 – Dateline theme
Michael Karp – Dateline bumpers

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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 Dateline 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. 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 – Dateline theme

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