“CBS Evening News” 1987 – 1991, 2011 – 2016 Theme


This was the first orchestral theme for the CBS Evening News. Before this theme was adopted in 1987, CBS News had a policy, imposed by CBS TV President Frank Stanton, that no music could be used. This policy dated back to the old days of TV news when many newscasts consisted of syndicated pictures with cheap production music. To prove CBS supplied its own footage, they decided not to add any music. Besides, their music library at the time consisted of music used for those old radio soaps. It was not appropriate for news. For a few years, they had a ticker sound as open/bumper/close, but from 1984 to 1987 they had no music at all in the open and the close! After a few years of seeing their ratings decline, while John Williams’ NBC News theme was popular with the viewing public, the executives at CBS decided to finally reverse their policy and commissioned John Trivers, Elizabeth Myers, and Alan James Pasqua to compose the theme. The music was recorded at the Fox sound stage and took 6 hours to perform. This theme was dropped in 1991, but only temporarily as it later turned out.

Twenty years later this theme made a remarkable comeback. When Scott Pelley took over as anchor of the CBS Evening News in 2011, this theme was picked up again. After five flashy years of Katie Couric, the new chairman of CBS News, Jeff Fager, wanted “to reach back into the DNA of CBS News”. Hence, they brought back their first theme music. They are using the original recordings, though they have been remastered slightly.

Trivers/Myers Music - CBS Evening News close

In the late 80’s they used different openings, but here you can find the one they used quite often. The opening that they have been using since 2011 is a bit different. It’s actually a remixed version of the last part of the long credit close above.

Trivers/Myers Music - CBS Evening News 2011 open
Trivers/Myers Music - CBS Evening News 1987 open

Here is the headline cue. CBS started using it circa 1990.

Trivers/Myers Music - CBS Evening News headlines

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