“This package was very tongue-in-cheek, with lyrics that were often near-parodies of what country songs were about back then. The challenge was to be right on the borderline, so that the stations wouldn’t know (but we did!)”
Despite me spending far too much of my time listening to radio jingles, there is always something new to discover – the “new” often being several decades old. The above, “Country JAM” by JAM Creative Productions in 1975 (kindly uploaded by Tracey Carmen) is one of them – and it’s one of the most entertaining jingle demos I’ve ever heard.
Now, when I post about jingles on Twitter, I’ll often just post a random jingle with no context, or a whole bunch of similar jingles in a row. Great for jingle geeks, but not especially accessible to anyone who isn’t. The whole point of jingle demos, however, is that they were sent out to radio stations and designed to sell the jingles – to give background information, to explain what the jingles are trying to do, and how they can be used.
In other words: this was designed to be listened to, as a piece of audio in its own right. And you’ll rarely hear a bunch of radio jingles which are quite as much fun. It takes a special kind of skill to be this playful with the call letters WTOD, but this package manages it. At 10:42:
It’s T-O-D-lightful country,
On a T-O-D-lightful day,
Don’t let anything trouble you,
Listen to W –
TOD, in the country
As Jon Wolfert1 says above, the whole thing feels like an affectionate parody of country music. Maybe the best example of this is at 5:35 – Cut #5, “your country love song”:
If you wake up one morning
And find that he is gone
Don’t lose the beat get on your feet
And turn your radio on
At first you’re gonna miss him
But soon you just won’t care
Everything is better
When TOD is there
Your country companion – WTOD
Or at 4:23, how about the little tale of the man who thinks more of WTOD than his lover, which quietly gets more and more hilarious each time you listen to it?
Her fingers push the button
That’s set to TOD,
I turn it up and tell her
That it means a lot to me
She thinks I’m taking ’bout her love,
But we won’t go too far
‘Cause you see it’s TOD
I’m lovin’ in the car
The drivin’ sound of WTOD
Marvellous. Yet, whilst I’m listening to these magical 30 second songs, I’m given to thinking of current radio… and how long jingles like this are conspicuous by their near absence.
Now, I don’t want to sound too grumpy old man here. I really enjoy some current jingles: Radio 2’s current package is lovely (despite a fairly terrible news intro), Brandy and Ignite are doing fun stuff I enjoy listening to, and I’ve got my ear on a resing for Dirty Feed of Cut #8 from TM Studios’ TFM Radio 2012. And of course, JAM themselves are still producing great stuff. I certainly do not think that good radio station imaging entirely ended in 1995, even if an awful lot of stations should be doing an awful lot better. (I save my ire for tripe like this.)
However: wouldn’t it be amazing if some station in the UK took the chance, and leapt headlong into commissioning something based around the same principles as Country JAM? Not country music, obviously – something which suited their own sound, which suited the music they played… but crucially, had some lengthy lyrics which had some fun and imagination to them, not just slogan/frequency/name – and maybe poked a bit of friendly fun at some of the songs they were playing? Not only would it create some great radio… but it would also ensure the name of that station stuck in your head. The twin obligations of any jingle package.
And whilst you ponder that thought, I’ll merely point you towards the very last jingle in the demo at 12:18, and remark that it pretty much has everything. A catchy tune, references to all the top artists the station plays, a strong identification… and an incredibly rude joke at the end. Fantastic.
President of JAM Creative Productions, and also writer of many of its jingles. ↩