Big finish!

Monday, February 19th, 2007

B.J. LeidermanOne of my favorite scenes—almost a throwaway moment—in the movie Broadcast News comes when two composers are demo-ing their news theme for the news execs…it comes together in a symphonic flurry of cresendoes and synthesized orchestration, and at nearly its climax, the music geeks say together: “Big finish!”

Dun da dun!

(Yes, that’s a link to a semi-listenable audio file of that very moment. Thanks, oh internet.)

Well, most days at the end of any of the network news broadcasts, I find myself saying that out loud…and probably annoying Sammy slightly.

But truth be told, my all-time favorite news theme was crafted for the public radio airwaves, specifically by the acknowledged master of public radio music, B.J. Leiderman.

From Marketplace to Morning Edition to my favorite, Weekend Edition Saturday, Mr. Leiderman makes music as varied as radio itself and in the classic tradition of big-B-Broadcasting, which as you may know, is a big deal for me. He has the smarts to use typewriter sounds for percussion when you’re introing a letters segment and to weave the gongs and hubbub of Wall Street into the Marketplace theme…an approach that which may or may not have been inspired by the ancient Wall Street Week theme, “TWX in 12 bars” composed by (I think) Donald Swartz, which featured a real Teletype ASR-33 on percussion.

And now, he has a new website, apparently crafted with the powers of iWeb, which features a great downloadable sampler of his NPR work, suitable for anyone’s iPod (and certainly mine.)