The 10 Longest-Running News Programs on Broadcast Television
Some of the longest-running news programs still on the air date back to the very beginnings of broadcast television itself.
When you think of which shows would rank among the longest-running news programs, you quickly realize some are as old as the medium itself.
Here are the 10 oldest from broadcast TV (including PBS) that are still going.
1. ‘Meet the Press’
At 70, Meet the Press is the longest-running program in television history. It premiered on November 6, 1947, and was inspired by a Mutual Radio Network program created by Martha Roundtree called Leave it to the Girls that consisted of a man questioning female celebrities on women’s issues of the day. Roundtree and Laurence Spivak pitched the idea for a similar program to NBC and Meet the Press was born.
Gerald Ford became the first sitting U.S. President to appear on the program in November 1975.
In 70 years, the program has had 12 moderators, including both Roundtree and Spivak. It’s most notable surely was the late Tim Russert who created the program’s famous catch phrase, “If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.. Russert died suddenly in 2008 after collapsing at the studio while working on an upcoming broadcast. NBC’s current political director, Chuck Todd, is its current moderator.
2. ‘NBC Nightly News’
Last month, NBC News held a celebration in its ‘Nightly News’ studio to mark the 70th anniversary of the program. It bases this milestone on the origin of The Camel News Caravan, which premiered on February 16, 1948, with the late John Cameron Swayze as its anchor. It was the first program to broadcast in color and relied on film to present a nightly 15-minute “newsreel” to viewers at home.
In 1956, NBC replaced the ‘Caravan’ with The Huntley-Brinkley Report featuring co-anchors Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, a team America loved. When Huntley retired in 1970, the program was renamed with its current title, NBC Nightly News, with John Chancellor, Roger Mudd and Brinkley. Eventually Chancellor became the sole anchor, Tom Brokaw succeeded him, followed by Brian Williams and now Lester Holt.
Here’s how the broadcast celebrated its 65th anniversary:
3. ‘CBS Evening News’
Likewise, CBS’s nightly network news broadcast traces its origins all the way back to 1948. Its first program was called Douglas Edwards With the News, which debuted on May 3, 1948. As you can see in this clip from last year, commemorating what would have been Douglas Edwards’ 100th birthday, there is some dispute over which nightly network broadcast came first: CBS claims it holds that distinction, not NBC.
Edwards would hold the job until April 1962 when Walter Cronkite took over the broadcast. It was a 15-minute newscast until September 2, 1963, when it expanded to a half-hour and was retitled The CBS Evening News. Cronkite, nicknamed “the most trusted man in America,” remained in the anchor chair until 1981, when Dan Rather took over. When Rather left in 2005, Bob Schieffer anchored for a year until Katie Couric took over anchoring duties in 2006. Scott Pelley succeeded Couric in 2011 and Jeff Glor became his replacement in 2017.
“We’re in touch with the world,” Jack Lescoulie said on the first broadcast of January 14, 1952, as he introduced its famous first moderator, Dave Garroway.
Main anchors of the broadcast over the past 66 years include John Chancellor, Hugh Downs, Barbara Walters, Frank McGee, Jim Hartz, Tom Brokaw, Jane Pauley, Bryant Gumbel, Deborah Norville, Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, Meredith Viera, Ann Curry, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb.
Lauer, who was forced out of the program in November amid accusations of misconduct, had the longest tenure on the program, with nearly 21 years. Couric beat Gumbel’s tenure of 15 years by one month.
5. ‘ABC World News Tonight’
ABC’s nightly news program is younger by comparison, at just 62 years old, having premiered in September of 1953. Its first moderator was the dignified John Charles Daly, who did double duty during his 12 years on the program while serving as moderator of CBS’s panel show What’s My Line? At that time, it was titled John Daly and the News. Peter Jennings first anchored the broadcast from 1965 to 1967, when it was retitled Peter Jennings with the News. Numerous anchors led the program from Jennings’ departure in 1967 until Harry Reasoner and Harry K. Smith co-anchored ABC Evening News beginning in 1970. Barbara Walter joined the broadcast in 1976.
In 1978, the program was retitled ABC World News Tonight with a three-anchor team: Peter Jennings, Frank Reynolds and Max Robinson, television’s first African-American network anchor. Reynolds anchored from New York, Robinson anchored from Chicago and Jennings anchored from London. In 1983, Reynolds became ill and died from bone cancer, leaving Robinson and Jennings, and then Jennings became sole anchor in 1984 until his death in 2005. With his influence still being felt at the network a decade later, ABC ran this tribute 10 years after his death:
Bob Woodward and Elizabeth Vargas were named co-anchors to succeed Jennings in 2006, but Woodward and his videographer were injured by a roadside bomb while reporting in Iraq. Vargas anchored solo until she was resigned in 2006 and was replaced by Charles Gibson from the network’s Good Morning America. In 2009, Diane Sawyer took his place and remained until 2014 when she was succeeded by David Muir.
6. ‘Face the Nation’
CBS’s answer to Meet the Press premiered on November 7, 1954. The program has had 10 moderators in 63 years. Leslie Stahl became the first female host of the broadcast in 1983. Bob Schieffer, the most well-known of its moderators, held the position until he announced his retirement in 2015. Here’s Schieffer’s final commentary:
He was replaced by John Dickerson, who left that program this year to replace Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning. Margaret Brennan, a senior foreign affairs correspondent with CBS News, was named Dickerson’s successor.
7. ‘Washington Week’
Washington Week holds a unique distinction in the list: it is actually older than the network on which it airs. The program debuted on February 23, 1967 as Washington Week in Review on National Educational Television, the predecessor of the Public Broadcasting Service. (PBS launched on October 5, 1970.)
Its first moderator was John Davenport, but others have included Robert MacNeil and Gwen Ifill, who hosted from 1999 to shortly before her death in 2016. Robert Costa is the current moderator.
8. ’60 Minutes’
“Good evening. This is 60 Minutes. It’s a kind of magazine for television.” That’s how the late Harry Reasoner opened the first episode of the now famous news magazine. Mike Wallace, another legend in the news business, was the co-anchor.
The program was created by Don Hewitt, the man whose motto for his team and whose advice for up and coming journalists was always four simple words: “Tell me a story.” Correspondents over the past 50 years are a Who’s Who in American journalism, including Morley Safer, Ed Bradley, Diane Sawyer, Bob Simon, Roger Mudd, Eric Sevareid, Bob Schieffer, Marlene Sanders, Charles Osgood, Bryant Gumbel, Charles Kuralt, and Charlie Rose. Commentator Andy Rooney had the last word for decades.
The trademark Aristo stopwatch keeps on ticking week after week.
9. ‘PBS NewsHour’
The PBS NewsHour premiered on October 20, 1975 as the Robert MacNeil Report and focused on a single issue. Before the end of that year, it was retitled The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, acknowledging the addition of Jim Lehrer.
In 1983, it became known as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. MacNeil retired in 1995 and Lehrer followed in 2011. Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff were named as co-anchors in 2013.
Upon Ifill’s death, Woodruff became sole anchor.
Here’s a look at how the program evolved over the years:
10. ‘Good Morning America’
ABC’s answer to Today debuted just 42 years ago, on November 3, 1975, replacing an earlier attempt called AM America. David Hartman served as its first host, with co-host Nancy Dussault and later Sandy Hill as co-host. Joan Lunden became co-host in 1980 and she and Hartman remained together until Hartman’s retirement in 1987.
Charles Gibson took Hartman’s slot. The program found success and even beat NBC’s Today at various points over the years, but Today reclaimed the top spot in ratings in 1995 and held on for 16 years.
Gibson and Diane Sawyer worked on the show from 1999 until Gibson left to take over the evening news on ABC. Robin Roberts joined the team in 2002. Chris Cuomo replaced Gibson in 2006. When Sawyer took over for Gibson, George Stephanopoulos joined ‘GMA’ in 2009. Lara Spencer joined in 2014.