“World News Tonight” 1979 – 1989 Theme

The 1978 theme music package is the first to contain the now famous ABC News signature. This is the orchestral update that was first used on World News Tonight in 1979. ABC News president Roone Arledge specifically wanted orchestral music to open the broadcast.

Arledge became president of the 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 WNT featured an anchor trio. Frank Reynolds (father of current CBS correspondent, Dean) was the lead anchor and based in Washington, D.C. Max Robinson, the first black network anchor, in Chicago anchored other national news. Finally, Peter Jennings in London anchored international news. With a year of its debut, the program made a remarkable leap in ratings when it passed NBC Nightly News with John Chancellor in the Nielsens. 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.

Score Productions – ABC News Radio theme

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