I try my best to make Dirty Feed a proper blog with actual commentary and shit like that – but sometimes you just want to chuck a great link out there, then cut and run. So it is with Unforgettable – published this month, it’s the latest in a long series of jingle montages from Ken Deutsch. This particular selection all come from jingle company PAMS between the years of 1960-1974 – a time which has a special meaning to Ken:
“For me this era represented my teenage years and early 20s, a time I fell in love with top-40 radio and its jingles in particular. People have come and gone in my life. I married, gained a stepson, watched the world change in many serious ways, but the PAMS jingles from the 60s and early 70s will always remain “unforgettable” to me.”
Not that you need to have grown up in the US during that era to get something out of this collection. There are few better ways to dip into the world of radio jingles than listening to material of this vintage – some of the very best jingles ever made. Give it a try. A glorious slice of Americana.
Even if the start of Track 7 may make you wince somewhat.
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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Next year, I am going to learn how to watch television and listen to the radio.
Or more specifically: next year, I am going to learn how to watch television and listen to the radio by myself.
Of course, I used to do nothing but this. My fond memories of watching TV when I was growing up aren’t as a family: it was my own shows, alone. My formative experiences with comedy, watching Fawlty Towers and Red Dwarf and Trev and Simon’s Stupid Video over and over and over again, were solitary experiences. There was nobody about in the middle of the night, where I sat watching Pets on 4Later. And those 10 minute Television X free-to-air promos… actually, let’s skip that one.
Still, over the years, things changed. I moved in with my girlfriend, and we started watching more TV together. And gradually, watching stuff by myself got less fun. If a show was really that great, I’d want to share it with her. Sure, I might enjoy a show by myself… but it was far more fun to watch it together, to laugh together, to stare in horror together, to talk about it afterwards together. And slowly, it became a habit… to the point where, without really even thinking about it that much, I barely watch anything by myself any more. It just doesn’t appeal to me at all.
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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…
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.