Sometimes you find out that a great theme of yesteryear is by a well known composer of today. When I spoke to Scott Schreer of NJJ Music the other day, he mentioned he did the iconic local news theme used on WNBC throughout the 1980s. That was a pretty big revelation because that WNBC theme is often mistakenly credited to Edd Kalehoff (who has done other great themes for WNBC) or Jim McAllister. Schreer explains: “Jim McAllister was a friend of mine who worked for me back then. He was a guitar player but had nothing to do with the NBC theme.” Schreer really didn’t mind that it was miscredited: “I really didn’t care because I know I wrote it and produced it at my studio!”
Schreer is best known these days for some of the best music used by Fox Sports and Fox News. When you think of the NFL on Fox, MLB on Fox and the O’Reilly Factor, his music immediately comes to mind. He has also composed a theme for Good Morning America in the late 90s (which, by the way, he did not keep a copy of in his personal archive).
Schreer’s theme debuted when WNBC revamped its entire station image. “NewsCenter 4” became “News 4 New York”. And at 5 p.m. a new newscast with a news-and-entertainment format debuted: “Live at Five”. The changes were a hit and WNBC’s news operation became the talk of the town.
The theme music was actually quite a challenge to record with the technology of those days: “I used my Oberheim synth that had a built in sequencer to trigger the 1/16 note pattern. Because midi wasn’t really invented or available to me back then, I had to play the high hats to match the oby synth sequence almost exactly.”
Some nice YouTube clips of the theme as used on the air after the jump.
The original open:
And a two-minute close:
The British website devoted to TV presentation has an entire page dedicated to the News 4 New York of the 1980s.