A brief history of Morning Report told through theme tunes

This morning, Susie Ferguson and Guyon Espiner hit the airwaves as the new co-presenters of Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report, and the start of their tenure coincided with the release of new theme music for the long-running show.

Since 1970, each decade of the show’s history has been given its own theme tune, and the new version, which comes a day after Geoff Robinson’s last show, serves to usher in a new era for the radio show.

Yesterday, during his final show, Robinson played the 1980s theme and referred to it as the best version in the history of Morning Report. And having been on the radio for 44 years, Robinson is certainly in a good position to express his opinion in this regard.

But before Morning Report had the groovy 80s tune that seemed more suited to a family sitcom, the show relied on incessant drumming to build anticipation among listeners. 

And from 1994 to 2004, the Morning Report tune adopted a Hollywood affectation that wouldn’t be out of place playing alongside the introductory footage for Paramount Pictures or 20th Century Fox.

The idea to develop a new theme tune has been attributed to Morning Report’s executive editor Martin Gibson and Radio New Zealand’s music production manager John Pilley.

“Both looked at and listened to the available production library music and explored other international online production music libraries for ‘news themes’ but found nothing particularly different or unique in these libraries,” said a release from Radio New Zealand.

While it might be true that many news themes travel along a well-worn path, it doesn’t always need to stay that way. In fact, there’s really no reason why news broadcasters can’t adopt the Anchorman approach for introductions.  


Also, news could really be portrayed in a more exciting light. Take this example from the 1980s, which made the whole team here at StopPress wish that we also had a branded news van.  

Instead of making the entrepreneurially savvy choice of opting for an intro tune that could be sold to action movie producers for use during high-speed car chases, the Morning Report team has instead gone for a more subdued melody that acknowledges New Zealand’s cultural heritage.    


Radio New Zealand commissioned Plan 9 Music to create the new theme tune, and the production company used recordings of Māori traditional instrumentalist Richard Nunn’s compositions. Once the final version was cut and edited, Radio New Zealand’s in-house team then mastered the audio file to make it suitable for use on radio. 

So, dear StopPress readers, which theme tune gets you excited for the news? (We have requested a soundbyte for the intro running from 2004 to 2014, but Radio New Zealand is yet to send it through.)     

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