Sometimes even the simplest changes can be hard to take. For example, many users were frustrated by Facebook’s recent roll-out of a newly redesigned app that was missing the trademark blue borders. We get annoyed when our grocery stores move products to a whole other aisle or section. We get exasperated when our bank scales back drive-through services in order to force us to navigate online banking. That very thing has happened in recent weeks to some people I know.
Well, for listeners of NPR’s long-standing morning show, it was a change in the program’s theme music that caused some disorientation for many on Monday morning.
Since its inception in 1979, this theme had been part of the morning routine:
But this week listeners were greeted with this instead:
While producers and anchors had teased the change last week, most listeners didn’t take note until, well, the first notes were played.
“It’s so generic. The old music was distinctive,” one listener tweeted.
“Don’t fix what ain’t broke,” another chimed in.
One person required more characters to express his dismay: “It is just terrible. Simply awful. Gross even. Please…..Please. As much as I love Morning Edition, it’s going to make it very difficult to listen.”
Other listeners had positive things to say, but as with most such situations, the negatives seem louder and more numerous.
Now, I’ll admit that I love to start my day with Morning Edition. Even when I disagree with the hosts or guests, I still walk away feeling smarter — like I learned something. That just doesn’t happen for me with most other newscasts.
The funny thing about this issue with the new music is that NPR listeners are, generally speaking, a little more progressive or even liberal in their political views and life philosophies. Therefore, it would make sense that such people would be ready to openly embrace such a bold change.
However, many of the tweets and other online comments have sounded a lot like church members who are grouchy about their preferences being disregarded or cast aside.
And church people can turn almost anything into an opportunity to grumble and complain — just like the Israelites who grumbled their way, reluctantly following Moses toward the Promised Land.
I’ve heard people fuss about pews vs. chairs, carpet vs. tile, blue vs. beige, hymns vs. choruses, choirs vs. praise teams, organs vs. drums, hymnals vs. screens. And even more than that.
So many of the changes we encounter throughout the course of our lives are changes over which we have little, if any, control. Sure, we can speak our truth to power, but even that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that minds will be changed and order restored.
And technology has only facilitated a faster pace of change in our world. Our ages could once be gauged fairly well by whether we grew up with 8-tracks, cassette tapes, or CDs. Now it can be gauged by what size our first cell phone was.
Perhaps Kathy Troccoli’s song “Everything Changes” best sums it up. In every area of life, change comes. Whether change is actually progress is left to each person to judge for himself.
But I suppose that for many listeners of Morning Edition, the familiar comfort of the old theme song — a track that had been a staple of the broadcast for 40 years — will not easily be replaced by the more upbeat and busy-sounding one.
Maybe this is a case of traditional vs. trendy.
I still contend that if NPR loses listeners due to the change in music, then they really weren’t there for the news at all. Could it be that NPR has waded into the same kind of territory that has threatened the happiness and job security of Worship Pastors all over the nation for the last 20 years?
Music is powerful. Change is hard. Changing music is apparently particularly hard, whether in the church or on the news. The fact of the matter is that we could all probably find more significant things to stress out about. Maybe we should.