Jingle History 101
“Hey, whatta ya say, it’s a great new day and we’re livin’, with 1010 WINS
Hey, whatta ya say, let’s get underway, we’re really livin’ W-I-N-S
It’s the right spot, 1010, it’s the bright spot, that’s WINS
The 1010 spot on your dial, and suddenly it swings
Hey, whatta ya say, have a happy day ‘cause we’re livin’, with 1010 WINS
– PAMS Series 13 “Target”, Cut #1, 1959
One recurring theme here on Dirty Feed can be summed up by the following: “Hey, jingles are fun”. This is a really good example.
A topic I’ve touched on before is the world of jingle syndication: the idea that whilst a jingle may originally be sung for a specific radio station, versions of that jingle can then be sung for different stations or uses all over the world. Here is an ultra-simple example of this; a single two-second jingle sung many different times. (Yeah, the final one is my favourite. Bite me.)
Last month, JAM Creative Productions1 uploaded the following fun bit of audio. It’s the above idea… taken to its absolute extreme. A jingle originally sung in 1959 for station 1010 WINS in New York – resung in 2015, with brand new lyrics, for internet station Rewound Radio. Take a listen below.
The result is something completely amazing… yet weirdly, also completely obvious. Even to someone who has been interested in jingles for years, making a brand-new version of a 56-year old jingle still blows my mind. Yet if you think about it logically: of course a station which plays music which is over 50 years old should have jingles from the same heritage. It’s a lesson which some stations such as Rewound Radio or WCBS-FM have fully got on-board with… and others, such as Absolute Radio‘s decades stations, abjectly fail to learn. If you want to have fun with an era, you need to do more than just grab whatever was in the charts at the time. Live it.
Incidentally, my favourite line of the new version? “Hey, turn on the hi-fi, the web or the wi-fi…” The bringing together of the old and new at its most perfect.
Recently, I had another jingle resung for Dirty Feed. Also done by JAM, it was originally recorded for Steve Wright’s Radio 1 show in 1990. Take a listen to both the original version and my 2015 resing below – of all the jingles I’ve had resung for Dirty Feed, this is up there as one of my favourites.
Most of my Dirty Feed jingles I choose and relyric myself, but in this case you can blame a certain Duncan Newmarch for both. “Oooh” and all. Except here’s the interesting thing:2 the “oooh” wasn’t part of the original jingle from 1990… but nor was it recorded especially for my 2015 version.
So where did it come from? The reference I gave to JAM when asking for the kind of “oooh” I wanted was this breakfast show cut, sung for New York radio station Z-100 in 1988:
In fact, the sound was lifted directly from this jingle and placed into my version. So, that’s that sorted, yes? The “oooh” was originally recorded for Z-100 in 1988?
Nope. We can trace it back even further. In fact, the “oooh” was originally recorded for this Gary Davies jingle for Radio 1 in 1987. Yep, it’s the famous “Oooh Gary” cut, which most listeners to a certain era of Radio 1 would be able to identify, even if they don’t give a stuff about jingles:
So why was my “oooh” lifted from the later Z-100 cut, rather than the original Gary Davies version? After all, logic dictates that for the best quality copy, you’d go back to the original source. For the answer to that, we have to turn directly to Jon Wolfert, President of JAM Creative Productions, who informs me that: “when we appropriated it for Skywave, we pitched it up slightly with varispeed (ah, the analog days) and enhanced it with a short digital delay… That’s why the Skywave version sounds better, and why we used it for Dirty Feed instead of the original rendition.”
And finally, if we want to trace the lineage of that Gary Davies jingle back one more step, it was originally created for Chicago-based radio station WLS in 1986 – notably, the original lyrics (completely different from the Radio 1 version and with no “oooh”s whatsoever) make it sound like almost a completely different cut, even though it’s exactly the same backing track:
So to recap: we have a Dirty Feed jingle made in 2015, based on a Radio 1 jingle from 1990, with an “oooh” sourced from a cut made for a New York station in 1988, although the “oooh” was originally sung for a Radio 1 jingle in 1987… although the original version of that jingle was sung for a Chicago station in 1986. Got all that?
And that’s what I love about jingles; the best of them, at least. The sheer history dripping from every cut. A sound which has crossed the globe. In many ways, it’s what gets people excited about the Wilhelm scream or Castle thunder sound effect; tracing the sounds back through the years. Every jingle tells a story.
I love that Rewound Radio can link itself back to the 1950s, evoking the sound of a generation. And I love that Dirty Feed, in an admittedly smaller way, can do the same for 80s/90s Radio 1. Because media history isn’t just about a few famous films, some Top 10 chart hits, and a few TV shows. To do that is doing a disservice to so many wonderful things. And the history of jingles is yet another way into the past: whether it’s a past you personally experienced, with all the visceral firing off of the brain synapses that accompanies that… or whether simply learning about an era that you weren’t around for. Out of all the many reasons I bang on about jingles, that’s one of the most important.
The fact they also manage to do the job they were designed for originally – to identify a channel (or website), and to entertain at the same time? Perhaps a sign that maybe some things don’t change that much.
I’m presuming if you’ve got this far through this article you’ll find it interesting, anyway. ↩