Themes from ‘CBS News’

“Street Stories” Theme

Street Stories was a newsmagazine that premiered in 1992 featuring 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley. Its premise was that all the stories it reported on could be happening in your city, neighborhood or street. In the summer of 1993 CBS replaced it with a new Connie Chung-anchored news magazine, Eye to Eye.

Peter Fish – Street Stories theme

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“48 Hours” 1991 – 1996 Theme

This is the second theme composed by Edd Kalehoff for 48 Hours. The previous theme however wasn’t completely dropped when they started to use this. It was still used during the cold open when the show teased its main story. This cue was used for the opening credits, which introduced all the correspondents. Around this time, Kalehoff composed a lot of themes for CBS News. His music was also used for West 57th, Face to Face, Saturday Night and Nightwatch.

Edd Kalehoff – 48 Hours open

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“CBS Evening News” 1991 – 2006 Theme

This theme started being used by the CBS Evening News in 1991 and lasted until September 2006. The theme is most closely associated with the Dan Rather era of the Evening News. However, for a short time Rather had a co-anchor. In 1993 CBS made Connie Chung the co-anchor, thereby making her the first female since Barbara Walter to anchor a nightly network newscast. The pairing was not a success. There was speculation that it was a mere ratings ploy and Rather was not happy sharing the spotlight with someone. Within two years Dan Rather was anchoring alone again. This theme was also used on the CBS Morning News. It is composed by Patterson, Walz and Fox Music Productions. Although it contains the signature melody of the former theme by Trivers/Myers, all the other music is original. The three composers were after a bigger-than-life sound that transcended the local news themes with a grand sound.

Patterson, Walz and Fox Music Productions – CBS Evening News close

This is the open without voiceover as used on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. During Bob Schieffer’s interim run the open was shortened by cutting out a few seconds in the beginning of the open.

Patterson, Walz and Fox Music Productions – CBS Evening News open
Patterson, Walz and Fox Music Productions – CBS Evening News headlines

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“Saturday Night with Connie Chung” Theme

This 1989 program replaced West 57th and was anchored by Connie Chung. Like West 57th it tried to set itself apart from other news magazines by doing things differently. How? In order to enhance the story telling, they used actors to recreate actual events. Critics charged that this blurred the line between news and fiction. The program, at any rate, was not very successful and only had a short run.

Edd Kalehoff – Saturday Night with Connie Chung

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“CBS News Special Report” 1988 – 1993

This is the classic CBS News Special Report theme that was used from 1988 until 1993. Edd Kalehoff is the composer. Kalehoff was quite active for CBS News at the time. He also did several news magazines, such as 48 Hours, and the CBS News Nightwatch theme. This Special Report theme was replaced with the headline bed from the 1991 CBS Evening News theme package. That was used for the remainder of the Dan Rather-era of CBS News.

Edd Kalehoff – CBS News Special Report theme

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“CBS News Nightwatch” 1988 – 1992 Theme

During this period CBS News Nightwatch used branding similar to the CBS Evening News. It’s logo and opening graphics are basically the same. The theme music, however, is different. Edd Kalehoff composed an entirely new theme for the overnight show. It was used until 1992, when the show was renamed to Up To the Minute.

Edd Kalehoff – CBS News Nightwatch theme

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“48 Hours” 1988 – 1996 Theme

In 1988 CBS News started a new kind of news magazine: 48 Hours. The show drew its name, inspiration and original format from a CBS News documentary that was titled 48 Hours on Crack Street. The documentary, which attracted high ratings, was about the drug crisis and how it affected neighborhoods. Like the original documentary, the show focussed on showing events that occurred within a timespan of 48 hours, hence the name. The format was phased out in the early 1990’s. The series was anchored by Dan Rather. This is the theme they used to open the show. After three years, new music was composed and this theme was used as secondary music.

Edd Kalehoff – 48 Hours theme

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“West 57th” Theme

This hip and slick news magazine was started in 1985 as the 60 Minutes for a younger generation. It was named after the address of the CBS Broadcast Center in New York. The show was fast paced and visually flashy but had essentially the same format as 60 Minutes. The program had no main anchor; the correspondents (like Meredith Vieira and Steve Kroft) would introduce their own stories. Despite its popularity and profitability, West 57th faced a lot of internal criticism. Dan Rather was afraid it took away resources from the CBS Evening News and Don Hewitt saw it as a younger rival to 60 Minutes. The program was cancelled in 1989.

Edd Kalehoff – West 57th

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“CBS News Nightwatch” 1982 – 1988 Theme

CBS News Nightwatch was an overnight newscast. It debuted in October of 1982 and was replaced with Up to the Minute in 1992. For most of its existence, Charlie Rose anchored the program. During his tenure, the program developed from being mostly a straightforward newscast to essentially a two-hour interview show. This theme was composed by Walt Levinsky, who also did other themes for CBS at the time such as the CBS Evening News, NFL Football and College Basketball coverage. It was replaced in 1988 by a theme from Edd Kalehoff.

Walt Levinsky – CBS News Nightwatch theme

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“CBS Morning News” 1982 – 1984 Theme

Since the 1960’s the title ‘CBS Morning News’ has been used for various programs on the CBS schedule. In the early 1980’s it was used for the predecessor of the show now called the Early Show. At the time the CBS Morning News was anchored by Bill Kurtis, who previously anchored a highly rated local newscast in Chicago, and Diane Sawyer. The program was well received and was able to – for a brief period – rise from its perennial third place to second, beating the Today Show. Kurtis and Sawyer also anchored the CBS Early Morning News together.

Signature Sound – CBS Morning News theme

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“CBS Evening News” 1982 – 1987 Bumper

Because there was a regulation at CBS that music could not be used for the Evening News, they used a teletype-like sound for bumpers and long credit closes when needed. The open, however, contained no music or sound of any kind. Dan Rather would simply open the broadcast by declaring: “Good evening. This is the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather reporting.” The bumper is composed by Walt Levinsky, who was once part of the Tonight Show Band during the early years of the Johnny Carson era.

Walt Levinksy – CBS Evening News bumper

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“60 Minutes”

In 1968 legendary broadcast pioneer (and executive producer until 2004), Don Hewitt, created a new kind of television program — the news magazine. It was supposed to do feature reporting that was informative and hard hitting. After a less than successful start the program caught on in the 1970’s and has been on top of the yearly Nielsens a total of five times! All the other networks were quick to enter this lucrative business and at times in TV’s history, it seemed there was practically nothing else on but these news magazines. In 1998, to cash in more on the success of this show, CBS created 60 Minutes II and, on their short-lived cable network, called Eye on People, they started airing 60 Minutes More. All but the original have since left the air. For this “theme”, you may need to turn up the volume a bit. Alright, it’s not a theme, just the sound of an Aristo stopwatch that 60 Minutes uses for its opens and bumpers.

Aristo stopwatch ticking (60 Minutes)

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“CBS Radio News” 1967 – 2001 Sounder

For many years, this was the sounder used to introduce the hourly news update from CBS News. It was composed by Eric Siday and his company called Identitones. Siday was a spectacularly successful pioneer in creating electronic sound logos. An early and famous example is the Maxwell House percolating coffee pot. It formed a contrast to the countless supposedly catchy but quickly tiring jingles that were on the air at the time. An added benefit: they were cheaper to produce because they didn’t require live musicians and residuals did not have to be paid to singers. His on-the-hour news sounder for CBS was on the air for a long time.

Identitones – CBS Radio News sounder
Identitones – CBS Radio Sports sounder

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