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The NPR show tunes you love to hum, and the man who created them

NPR theme music composer BJ Leiderman.
NPR theme music composer BJ Leiderman.
Courtesy of BJ Leiderman

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If you’re a public radio nerd, listening to Morning Edition’s calming guitar riff in the early AM, or Marketplace’s bells and drums cueing the latest business news - are essential notes in your day.

National Public Radio (NPR) and American Public Media (APM) may operate separately in their content and programming, but there’s one key asset they share: BJ Leiderman. Leiderman plays the piano, drums, sings and more, and he landed his first gig as an NPR theme music composer during the launch of a brand new morning show called “Morning Edition,” which officially aired on Nov. 5, 1979, featuring the original version of Leiderman’s relaxing morning jingle. He’s also created the theme music for “Weekend Edition,” “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” “Car Talk” and more.

Host Larry Mantle talks to Leiderman about the magic behind the tunes, his upcoming album and deep love for public radio.


BJ Leiderman, award-winning composer and songwriter behind many of NPR's most recognizable theme show tunes; his album “Natural Public Leiderman” is expected to drop in May of 2017