I’ve linked to many jingle montages in my time. This, however, is something special. The above audio is 2 hours 10 minutes long – and is really less of a jingle montage, and more of a journey through one man’s radio history.
That man is Duncan Newmarch – former radio DJ and producer, current BBC television continuity announcer. I caught up with him for a brief chat about his creation… and what radio means to him.
JOHN: So, what the hell is this, and why have you made it?
DUNCAN: (laughing) That’s a good question! I’ve got to come up with an answer.
Well, the idea was to mix hissy old cassette recordings with lovely clean copies from master tapes and CDs of all the things I just loved listening to as a kid. This is the radio and the jingles that I have grown up with. I did play a few little bits and pieces to somebody and they said: “You can hear where it goes from the crappy quality to lovely, crisp clean explosions… why don’t you just make the whole thing mono and make it sound like it’s from a medium wave speaker?” And I thought “Well, that’s not the point”. I think anybody can find old cassette copies of old radio. If you could have taken all that radio from the 80s and the 90s, how would it have sounded through their headphones? Because I grew up listening to Radio 1 in medium wave, and it sounded horrible for most of the time! But of course, in the studio, they were listening to it sounding beautiful.
But yeah, how do you describe it in one sentence? It’s a radio trip down memory lane, isn’t it?
I just spend so much time in the car. I wanted to have something that I could start at home, and get all the way to work and it still hadn’t finished. And the problem is, I don’t think I’ve changed a lot from being a ten year old – I’m still listening to really weird stuff in the car, rather than just putting the radio on. As a kid, like most kids of the 80s, I had this drawer under the bed which was just full of cassettes. But rather than them being filled with music, I was one of those boys who recorded the Top 40, and had my finger over the Pause button – but rather than recording the music and stopping the tape when Bruno Brookes would start to speak, I was the wrong way round! So I’d be recording what he said, to try and get copies of all the jingles, and all of the silliness in-between.
So there was all these cassettes which I found recently, and I thought: “Well, what the point of having this if you don’t listen to it?” There are lots of jingle collectors, and I don’t blame them, but they’ve got all these jingles and they never listen to them. So I wanted to archive all of those cassettes, and then, rather than just listening to them, mix these hissy old recordings with lovely clean quality versions of all the jingles and the beds and all the things I loved listening to as a kid, and unfortunately still love listening to them now.
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“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.
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On Saturday, Pointless Celebrities did their second radio special. And to celebrate the event, Richard Osman had lots of jingles at his disposal. As possibly one of the most Dirty-Feed-friendly programmes ever broadcast, we had to mark the event somehow.
Now, many shows might have just got some cheap, nasty, mock radio jingles done – maybe because they wanted cheap, or maybe because they wouldn’t have any idea companies exist whose entire purpose is to create radio jingles. But the beauty of Pointless – as with all great programmes – is how much care is taken in the production. So we get resings of tracks which originally came from US jingle companies JAM and PAMS – who both produced Radio 1 jingles for decades.1
The result of this? That, much like TV Offal, all the jingles heard on Pointless were originally sung for US radio stations. And if you don’t want to hear a comparison between the two different versions, then you’re clearly on the wrong site. What are you doing here? Go away.
Download “Pointless Celebrities Jingles – 18/10/14” (6MB MP3, 4:09)
For the record, the jingles in order are: Turbo Z #18, Turbo Z #4, Turbo Z #26 (my favourite), Turbo Z #1, Series 34 ‘Music Power’ #23, Series 27 ‘Jet Set’ #2, Turbo Z #6, Series 33 ‘Fun Vibrations’ #16, and Series 34 ‘Music Power’ #14. (With thanks to Robin Blamires for helping me identify that last one.)
All huge amounts of fun, and the delight with which Alexander Armstrong greeted them was a joy to behold. (Though well done Trevor Nelson for calling them “dated”, which is possibly the least interesting thing that could possibly be said about them.) It is, however, slightly ridiculous that Pointless not only has better jingles than an awful lot of radio stations, but also knows how to use them better…
RADIO: # Rocking Dallas Fort-Worth, 98.7 K-LUV! #
BOB DINAN: And do you get a kind of thrill still, every time you hear one of these?
JON WOLFERT: Yeah… yeah… I like it.
– Day 4, Bob Dinan’s Jingle Pilgrimage
Religious metaphors are rare on this site. For this subject, however, I make an exception. If broadcasting is the closest I’ll get to religion, and arguing about audience sitcom is the closest I’ll get to a holy war, then visiting the studios of JAM Creative Productions of Dallas1 would be the equivalent of a pilgrimage.
I’ll probably never get to do it. However there is a second best, and a very good second best at that. A UK jingle collector who goes by the name of Bob Dinan took that very trip over to Dallas in February this year… and spent a long time recording everything. Which means I get an instant religious experience from the comfort of my own sofa.
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“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!)”
– Jon Wolfert, President of JAM Creative Productions
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.
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It’s 1969, and America’s ABC FM group needs some new jingles.
“I conferred with Harry Sosnik who was the director of music at ABC, and he said: ‘You know, what we could do is do our own jingle package in London. You know, we might get some cool British sounds and since that seems to be a big part of the rock scene…’ So we packed up, went over to London, went to Marble Arch studio and had a big huge orchestra there all ready that Harry had arranged for, and then we started auditioning lead singers to do the jingles. And this young fella comes in with tattered clothes, an audition disc and we put it on the turntable, played it, and boy, he sounded pretty good…”
— Allen Shaw, head of ABC FM group, 1969
The name of that singer? The answer may interest you, even if you’re not that into jingles. Take a listen to this. Or just look at the filename, of course, but that’s not half as much fun.
(All courtesy of a certain Mr. Jon Wolfert, who originally posted it on JingleMad. There’s some more background information over there, for those interested.)
Never let it be said that Dirty Feed isn’t topical. To, erm, celebrate JLS splitting up, here’s some audio from their appearance on The Chris Moyles Show back in 2011, where they sung the show’s jingles live – in front of an audience at the BBC Radio Theatre.
Download “The Chris Moyles Show (18/02/11) – JLS Jingles” (9MB MP3, 4:44)
To be honest, it’s a case of “nice thought, pity it’s JLS”. (I prefer the BBC Concert Orchestra playing the jingles live the following year, 17:20 into this clip.) But it’s worth it purely to hear Moyles being extremely rude to JLS over their ability to sing. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
Pips from the end of the show are kept in at the end of the clip. Because playing the pips in front of an audience at the end of your show is bloody great.
Last Wednesday was Pirate FM‘s 21st anniversary – and to celebrate, they dug out a bunch of their old JAM jingles from their 1992 launch. I wish I’d managed to record the whole day, but sadly I only captured a part of Hometime with James Dundon – of which the below is just a small badly-edited snippet:
Download “Pirate FM 21st Anniversary – 3/4/13 5pm” (10MB MP3, 8:16)
Highlights include the amazing Pirate FM song at 1:45 (“The future’s looking great, at Great Britain’s Western Gate…”), and a hilariously sniffy contemporary BBC Spotlight report of the launch at 3:35. The whole day was a fantastic, heartfelt celebration – I only wish every radio station celebrated its anniversaries by having so much fun on the air.
The main thing I’d point out though, is how wonderful those jingles – now 21 years old – sound today. And more importantly, still work with a huge variety of different music – from Prefab Sprout in 1988, to a 2012 Pink hit. They made the station sound bloody fantastic. And, dare I say, deserve bringing back for more than one day…
I’ve been meaning to post these for a while, and Grimmy’s first week doing the Radio 1 breakfast show has given me the perfect excuse – as a little glimpse of what Radio 1 has lost. Here’s a few jingle-related things from The Chris Moyles Show, which I first put together in 2010. These are some of my favourite UK-made jingles ever, and my favourite imaging from a UK radio station in the past 10 years.
“Chris, Dave, Dom, Tina, Aled, Matt Fincham, and this week’s allocated Unit Assistant…” An entire three-and-a-half-hour show, boiled down to just the jingles and other imaging – opening with the fantastic cheesy song, and ending with the closing “National Radio One!” Highlights here have to be the beautiful strings-only version of one of the beds, and the jingle for Aled’s Summer Surgery: “Chlamydia and itchy bits, they are not much fun: so why not tell the whole wide world, here on Radio 1?”
The Chris Moyles Show (22/07/10) – Imaging (45MB MP3, 23:26)
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Last year, I started a series of posts about jingle samplers, from the fantastic collection of Ken R. After a short break, I meant to get back to it – but in the meantime an excellent site has sprung up from Ted Tatman, archiving all the samplers I have, and rather more besides. Rather than duplicate the effort, especially as that site has a bit more context, I thought I’d finish my series by just giving the site a great big link:
As there really is much great stuff over there, I thought the following would be a a fitting end to this series of posts:
And that great song leaves me with a question – just what was it about 70s pop culture which made them constantly mention the year? I keep seeing it with material from that decade. Even the Carry On films were doing it with this poster for Carry On Behind – “…with the ’76 touch”. Why?