This is the cue from The Mission that NBC selected to open the Today Show and is the only John Williams cue that was still used on the morning show by the mid-90’s. It was used in conjunction with lighter themes that were used as bumpers, closes and secondary opens. At two brief but notable points in time, the Today Show tried to replace The Mission altogether: in 1994, to mark the debut of the street side studio, and in 2004. Currently they are using an updated version of this open that is longer and lighter.
When this theme debuted the Today Show started to climb up in the ratings, regularly beating GMA again for the first time since 1980. After the unfavorable publicity surrounding Jane Pauley’s replacement Deborah Norville hurt the show in 1990, knocking it down to second place, there was a resurgence in the mid-90’s. Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric were the anchors and Jeff Zucker the legendary executive producer. Zucker eliminated all commercials from the first 22 minutes of the broadcast, turning that part into a serious newscast. He also started such morning show staples such as outdoor concerts and on-air weddings. It revived the Today Show and started a winning streak that would last over 15 years.