27 May 2022

A 'sonic refresh' is coming for RNZ

From Morning Report, 7:55 am on 27 May 2022

Earlybirds tuning in to Morning Report will have a fresh wake-up call from Monday morning.

We're keeping the birds and the six 'pips', but as of tomorrow RNZ's three flagship news programmes - Morning Report, Midday Report and Checkpoint - will share a new theme tune.

Muriwai Beach at sunrise

Photo: Thomas Necklen / Unsplash

Back in the 1970s Morning Report's theme song was pretty percussion-heavy…

In the '80s, there was a lot more brass, and electronica came in with the '90s…

..and since 2014, we've been hearing this:

Corin Dann and Susie Ferguson

Morning Report presenters Corin Dann and Susie Ferguson Photo: RNZ

RNZ Head of News Richard Sutherland says he was keen to have a "cohesive sonic brand" for the three flagship news programmes, something similar to the BBC's rapid-fire musical theme for news bulletins and news programmes.

"When you hear that piece of music you go 'ah, here is information coming from a credible source'. It's all about reminding the audience of who you are and what you do and how you do it.'"

The new theme was created by Sydney-based sound design company Soul Zu (who composed the music for Australian public broadcaster SBS) in collaboration with Jim Hall - a New Zealand composer and taonga pūoro (traditional Māori instrument) expert.

Sound Zu's Ramesh Sathiah says creating a news theme is similar to writing a film score. In preparation, he examined RNZ's charter, visual identity and music RNZ has used in the past.

One stylistic trope that remains an essential part of any news theme is the insistent beeps of a teletype machine, says Jim Hall.

"Even in 2022, if you do a news theme and you don't have something a bit like that in there, people say 'it's not very newsy'."

Listen to Auckland musician Jeremy Toy's remix of the 2014 - 2022 Morning Report theme: