Legendary ABC News president Roone Arledge wanted orchestral music to open World News Tonight and so in 1980 the evening newscast started to use this theme. It was composed by Score Productions in 1979 and was used on occasion to open various ABC News broadcasts before becoming the main theme for World News Tonight.
Arledge became president of the then low rated ABC News in May of 1977 and would go on to create such programs as World News Tonight, 20/20, Nightline and later This Week with David Brinkley and PrimeTime Live. The first five years of World News Tonight featured an anchor trio. Frank Reynolds was the lead anchor, based in Washington D.C. Max Robinson, the first black network news anchor, anchored from Chicago. And Peter Jennings covered the international news from London. Within a year of its debut, the program made a remarkable leap in ratings when it passed NBC Nightly News with John Chancellor in the ratings. When Frank Reynolds died in 1983 of cancer, the program was relaunched with one anchor. After Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Roger Mudd and Ted Koppel passed on the job, it was given to Peter Jennings.
Score Productions – World News Tonight theme
Here’s the version of the theme that was used on ABC News Radio up until 1995.