On the 21st September 1939, radio station WJSV in Washington, D.C. did something amazing: they recorded their entire day of output. From sign-on at 6am, to sign-off at 1am. Today is 75 years to the day since that recording was made; which means it seems an ideal time to inform you – or merely remind you – that the entire day is available to listen to online.1
Many others have written about the background to this remarkable recording – this piece on RadioArchives.com and this piece from the Library of Congress will tell you all you need to know. As the only complete day which has survived from what some call the Golden Age of Radio, its importance is only beaten by the sheer visceral impact of listening to the recording. This is no dry, worthy exercise – actually hearing the material is the closest you’ll get to travelling back to the United States in 1939. A horrendous cliche perhaps, but one I honestly believe is true.
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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 had a strange telephone call from my mother yesterday. She woke up that morning, bleary-eyed, to hear a rather strange voice over the radio – me, when I was nine…
Sure enough, BBC Radio Nottingham in its BBC at 90 celebrations had a lovely little report on Andy Whittaker’s breakfast show about the history of the station – and they used an extract from my latest podcast for an aircheck of wonderful local broadcaster Dennis McCarthy.
You can hear it 22 minutes into Andy’s show, or take a listen below; it’s a lovely little piece of radio.
Download “This is 5NG calling…” (8MB MP3, 3:59)
Thanks to reporter Kevin Stanley (and Paul Robey, who was credited in a repeat later in the day for the archive clips). I’m proud – in whatever small way – of being part of Radio Nottingham’s celebrations.
Got a tear in my eye. Must go.
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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Forgive me, ladies and gentlemen, for the months long absence of this podcast. Join me now, as we travel back through the mists of time to BBC Radio Nottingham in the early 90s, and meet fantastic local broadcaster Dennis McCarthy. Oh yes, and me when I was 9.
Download Podcast #3: Junior Jackpot (27MB MP3, 13:53)
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What a swotty little prick.
Via the excellent @BobDinan, here’s a depressing article – What I’m really thinking: the radio presenter. It takes some feat to contradict yourself so splendidly using only four paragraphs, but somehow this piece manages it.
“Listeners have told me they’re pregnant before they’ve told their boyfriends. They’ve just had nobody else to go to. This job has made me realise there are a lot of lonely people in the world. I know they think I’m their friend.”
Radio as friend. Got you. Makes sense. I mean, I’d quibble with how it’s phrased, and it seems to pity an audience of which the vast majority doesn’t need pitying – but whatever.
“This is the only job I’ve done and I’m amazed we still have an audience. With a smartphone you can listen to whatever song you want, whenever you want. You don’t have to tune in on the off chance I’ll play something you like. Within a generation I think there will be no such thing as a radio presenter. Which is why, when people ask me how to get into radio, I think – don’t.”
…hang on. You started the piece by pointing out how radio can connect with an audience – using the human voice, in a way that an iPod can’t. Have you completely forgotten what you’ve just written?
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