Jingle Jaunts

A trawl through many classic UK radio station jingles from Robin Blamires

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

BBC Radio York

A slightly different post this time round as it's not often that there's a blog post based around a BBC Local Radio station.

However Radio York has to be one of the standouts who since their launch in July 1983 have relied on some of the finest heard on all the BBC Local stations in 40 years.

And I'm not just saying that because a fellow radio student on my University course worked there as a BA before going onto bigger things.

The station launched on the 4th of July 1983 to much publicity, where the first jingle package was by Memphis based company William B. Tanner which had a really delightful main theme.
The rest of the jingles can be heard below.

1983 Jingles - William B. Tanner

Two years later the station went to Dallas and brought a JAM package consisting mainly of the WNBC packages, as well as that delightful cut from "Special Touch" that can be heard at the beginning as well as ones from "I'd Rather Be In Denver" and "We'll Make Your Day".

1985 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

I could be wrong in suggesting this but I'm certain one of their presenters Victor Lewis-Smith had a hand in the above jingle package as he was a huge JAM fan and especially of the WNBC packages as one of them ended up being used in his TV Offal series on Channel 4 in the late 90s.

In 1989 David Arnold was approached to produce the next package with vocals by JAM as they came close to being represented by David Arnold before Jon decided to go with Alfasound as the UK reps due to their greater enthusiasm for jingles as opposed to just music.

1989 Jingles - David Arnold Music

Chris Choi, now at ITV News was one of those at the station who helped to realise the package and for me it has to be their liveliest and most energetic used in the last 25 years.

In fact I'll say it's the best custom package I've ever heard on a BBC Local Radio Station even if some of the cuts bare resemblance to existing packages such as the Century 21 "Proton" package and even a few vintage PAMS jingles such as the "Smooth Sailing" one at 2.29.

The package also contained these hard to find News and Traffic beds that can be heard here.
Apparently Radio 1 wanted the traffic jingle for themselves but Radio York wouldn't let them. Although their own one from the 1990 package was a lot better and comforting than Radio York's partly because Radio 1's only had horns at the beginning.

Into the 90s and 1991 saw a return to David Arnold who by this time was the UK rep for TM Century and BBC Radio York brought some of their finest with resings from "Proton", "WNSR '91", "Y98-FM" and a stunning solo cut from the K-Lite package at the end which a few jingle collectors have had done for themselves.

1991 Jingles - TM Century

By the end of the decade the station was using a JAM package with UK vocals consisting of jingles from the "American Mix" package for WBLI in Long Island, and sports station WFAN in New York.

Not as exciting as the last set but still pretty good.

1997 Jingles - ALFA/JAM Creative Productions

During the early half of the current decade the station even rebranded itself as "BBC North Yorkshire" but it didn't last too long.

And that more or less brings us up to date with the current jingle package as of 2007 which pretty much epitomises the current trend of a station's melody logo going down instead of up, musically.

2006 Jingles - Maximum Production

And to finish with, a special feature about the station's jingles for the 20th anniversary introduced by York resident and jingle enthusiast David Hemsley.

Usual thanks of course to Mark Hodgkinson, Dave Nightingale, David Hemsley, Stuart Barrett for the 1989 News and Travel cuts, and Aston McNeil.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Beacon Radio

Quite a lot's been written about this station on various websites, and rightly so as the West Midlands based radio station really gave Independent Local Radio a kick up the backside during it's first 20 years on air.

I'll do my best to make this post pretty jingle-centric although I may slip in some random nonsense as always.

Beacon began broadcasting in April 1976 and was the last ILR station to launch in the decade.
Rather than provide a bog-standard "full service" station to the West Midlands, they decided to adapt a format more along the lines of American broadcasters.

They originally wanted to name themselves "WABC" (standing for "Wolverhampton And Black Country") but the IBA refused saying it was too American and very much so, considering that the original WABC in New York was one of the most well known radio stations around the world.

The first set of jingles weren't American but leaned towards those produced in Dallas sounding very similar to some of JAM's WABC jingles made around the time.

There's also that rather cool news intro towards the end possibly based around "Shaft".

1976 Jingles - EMIson

The station did go to Dallas for their next package two years later which involved a rather nice resing of TM's "You" package orginally written for 93 KHJ.
Personally I think "Beacon 303" fitted in better.

1978 Jingles - TM Productions

The station's American influenced output didn't go down well with the IBA and by the end of the 70s a new programme director was brought in, in the form of Peter Tomlinson who's better known to viewers outside the broadcast area as the voiceover on Blockbusters.

Peter reformatted the station to sound more in line with the other ILRs but it didn't mean that the quality decreased heavilly as the American hits and album tracks remained as part of the station's music output.

We'll move onwards to the mid 80s and the first of Beacon's many custom packages by Alfasound.

1985 Jingles - Alfasound

This set the standard for what was to come although the singers couldn't always get it right as heard here.

In July 1987 the station launched a new transmitter in Telford and Shropshire on 103.1 FM and broadcast seperate programming throughout the day before joining with Wolverhampton in the evening.

By this time presenters included Will Tudor, Dale Winton, and Stephen Rhodes who later became Richard Madeley's stand in on This Morning and the announcer on Les Dennis's Family Fortunes for 12 years.

The management were made up of MD Alan Mullett and programme controller Pete Wagstaff who would work for the next 10 years to provide a top quality station with jingles to match.

New jingles were introduced based around the previous package but with a stronger theme and melody logo and some absolutely stunning beds for different features.

The original demo can be heard here;

1986 Jingles - Alfasound

Whilst the more polished package used on air can be heard below.

1987 Jingles - Alfasound

Whilst it's a solid package, I've never understood why the first oldies cut done in the style of the Beatles goes "The latest hits of the 60s".

1988 saw the third custom package from Alfasound focused more towards the current hits that were played on the station as well as new beds for Weather and Traffic.

1988 Jingles - Alfasound

In 1989 Beacon followed in the footsteps of many other ILR stations by splitting their frequencies on AM and FM.

Beacon Radio continued on FM with a new set of jingles featuring Dallas vocals and I love how they pronounce the station name as "#Beeee-Kun Rayy-Dee-Oohhh"

e selection below also includes a few acapellas including one for Rory Morrison who's now one of Radio 4's newsreaders and announcers.

1989 Jingles - Alfasound/PAMS International

There were also a few resings from the 87 package with US vocals and just for a bit of fun, here's the Shrewsbury versions of those superb phone number and address jingles. There's also a really noisy synthy jingle for the sports and the rare news intro.

Listen out in the first selection for the half-inched laser FX from the Century 21 "Proton" demo.

On 990 AM a new station launched under the name that the IBA initially rejected 13 years earlier; WABC.
As Beacon included 60s music within their wide format, WABC was more of a light standards based station with jingles to match taken from some of the later PAMS packages in the early 1970s.

WABC 1989 Jingles - Alfasound/PAMS Productions

With the 90s approaching, Beacon needed a stronger on air sound for their jingles and with Alfasound now selling JAM jingles, they brought what has to be the best resing of the Turbo Z package with the station name fitting in perfectly with great vocals.

Beacon Radio 1989 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

Many jingle fans regard this to be one of JAM's finest packages and it worked brilliantly on air for the station.

In 1991 they took it to the next level with a resing of KIIS 90 and a melody logo which is still remembered by listeners today.

Beacon Radio 1991 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

Presenter Dave Myatt attended the sessions in Dallas and added extra lyrics to the tracks which was a very creative touch proving that they could be sung better than the original American demos.

Meanwhile WABC having been the last ILR station under the IBA to launch a new AM transmitter in Shropshire relaunched around the same time to become more of an uptempo oldies station with a package consisting of "2 Kool" orginally done for Kool 105 in Denver.

WABC 1991 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

Throughout the 90s, Beacon would use a library track by KPM called "Express" to lead them into the news from their TOH ident.

Courtesy of Michael Bolton (not that one) here's a short selection from over the years.

In 1993 the stations were taken over by the GWR group, but due to their immense success and strong format, the Radio Authority forbid GWR to take overall control for 3 years. Programming ideas were experimented for a short while on air and slipped in subtlely, but disapeared gradually and things more or less stayed the same with more new jingles continuing to arrive.

This next set had to be one of the most memorable and well written packages consisting of tracks mainly from the stunning "Do It Again" package for CBS-FM, but also from "Z-World" and "Hi-Qume".

The "Do It Again" resings can be heard below.

Beacon Radio 1993 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

WABC also had tracks from the same package and their variant can be heard as well.

WABC 1993 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

In 1996 the station brought what for me had to be their best resing of a JAM package mainly consisting of a resing of "Hit Power" written for Dutch station Veronica and demoed for Power 92 in Arizona.

Beacon's version turned out to be a lot better in terms of vocals and positioning and the proof can more or less be heard below.

Beacon Radio 1996 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

Another example which I put together years ago comparing the demo with the Beacon cuts can also be heard here and more or less proves the above point.

In addition to "Hit Power" there were also a few new cuts for the Breakfast Crew made up of jingles from classic Z100 packages such as "Warp Factor" and "Skywave" including a couple used on Radio 1 in the late 80s.

WABC at the same time brought a set of jingles mostly taken from those for the New York WABC and I'd go as far as saying that they're also better than the originals.

Apparently JAM fan Len Groat is a big fan of the first cut in the montage below which I've included two versions of for 990 AM and 1017 AM.

WABC 1996 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

Beacon also had a couple of cuts from the same package used for simultaneous overnight programme, as heard here.

In 1996, GWR's curfew was up and both Pete Wagstaff and Alan Mullett left the station before the damage was made.

The station relaunched in Feburary 1997 as "Beacon FM" and the sudden change in format did not go down well with the listeners who protested, vandalised the studios and both the BBC and Central Television got involved for their regional news programmes respectively.

I seem to remember reading that the new managing director was seen banging his fist on the table over the bad publicity that the station was recieving.

Then again it's understandable why the listeners were really pissed off as the "Midnight Line" programme had been very popular for the best part of a decade and to have that dumped in favour of a pervert asking about people's sex life
(or at least it sounded like that) was not the right move to make.

WABC on the other hand slowly progressed (or de-gressed) when it was relaunched at the same time as WABC Classic Gold implenting the infamous "Good Times And Great Oldies" strapline.

A new JAM package arrived and in terms of the jingles themselves it was a good selection containing cuts from "The Best Show", "Special Touch" and the "Double Plus" packages.

WABC Classic Gold 1997 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

However as the cuts at the end suggest, a full rebrand wasn't far away and in April 1998 the Classic Gold regime became permanent reducing local programming to four hours a day Monday to Friday at Drivetime.

In the latter half of the current decade Beacon changed it's name back to Beacon Radio and even had a new jingle package from Kissville pretty much picking up where the last package left off in terms of it's melody logo.

Beacon Radio 2007 Jingles - Kissville

The station continues with it's new owners Bauer and here's hoping they'll bring some more jingles to the station in the next few years.

Although if that's the case, the majority of those above will hard to beat.

Thanks to Geoff Barton, Andy Walters, Alan Nicklin, Aston McNeil, Neal Bowden Stacey Harris, Paul McGrath,
and Michael Bolton.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Yorkshire Radio Network

I've made several posts about the individual stations around the Yorkshire area, so I thought it would be good to post a selection of those done for YRN overall and the various jingle packages done for the AM stations.

The Yorkshire Radio Network began in 1987 when after a brief dalliance between Pennine Radio in Bradford, and Viking Radio in Hull, both stations and Radio Hallam began broadcasting overnight and introduced a syndicated jingle package across all three stations.

The melody logo for the network blended in those from Pennine Radio and Radio Hallam, with Viking Radio adapting their's to fit in with Pennine's as an individual station.

The first jingle package was rather brief but featured the stunning vocals of Jimmy Helmes who had previously sung on an earlier Radio Hallam package and would find later success as part of Londonbeat shortly after.

1987 Jingles - Alfasound

A few examples of how the jingles were adapted individually can be heard here, with a few individual jock IDs for Pennine, as well as their earlier traffic intro leading into the YRN bed to ease the changes.

There was confusion however as to whether the stations would be referred to as Viking, Hallam and Pennine, Pennine, Hallam and Viking, etc so Alfasound produced a few examples as heard here.

It's worth posting a selection of jingles proposed for the network by Manchester company LBS who had previously done a package for Viking Radio.

Personally I think they sound more contemporary with the music that was in the charts that the time compared to the Alfasound jingles and sound rather good.

YRN - LBS Jingles (Unused)

Although with the Alfasound packages, a more coherent and concise melody logo had been established and it managed to work across the network.

In 1988 a second package arrived with new news and traffic beds and a bigger selection of cuts with the majority of them being based around the name "Viking, Pennine and Hallam" which worked out well as the last notes ended on the Radio Hallam melody logo.

1988 Jingles - Alfasound

Viking was the first station to split it's frequencies with the new Viking FM buying a further set of jingles with new custom cuts.

They were later adapted for the network in 1989 when Pennine and Hallam began broadcasting on FM only as well as the stations first set of JAM jingles with UK vocals.

1989 Jingles - Alfasound

A promo marking the launch of the Classic Gold service and Hallam FM can be heard here.

On AM, all three stations re-branded to "Classic Gold" with Alfasound providing some rather impressive news, sport and travel IDs based around a few familiar sounding tunes.

Classic Gold 1989 Alfasound Jingles

The rest of the jingles followed along the lines of Viking Gold in 1988, by making use of classic PAMS jingles that can be heard below.

Classic Gold 1989 PAMS Jingles

In 1991 the station was brought by the Metro Radio group and the jingles on AM were changed to a resing of a package originally produced by Alfasound for Great North Radio in the North East.

Classic Gold 1991 Jingles - Alfasound

Although it was a resing of what I'd consider to be one of Alfasound's best packages, the staff at the station decided to produce a rather witty piss-take although rather than witty, it's more a case of being crude for the sake of it.

(Ignore the Bastard Brothers tag on the file itself, I wasn't sure about who produced at first)

Classic Gold Pisstake 1991

In 1992, following in the footsteps of Great North Radio, the AM stations changed their name to "Great Yorkshire Radio" with a rather nice set of JAM jingles from packages such as "Do It Again", "Digital Mix" and "Continuous Coast".

Great Yorkshire Radio 1992 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

A few liners voiced for the station by Doc Morgan can be heard here.

Shortly after they changed their name to Great Yorkshire Gold and the 1994 demo from the Alfasound tapes can be heard below.

Great Yorkshire Gold 1994 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

There were also a few additional cuts for presenters, including a superb version of one of the jingles from "The Beat 92" with a 7 voice group. That manages to wipe the floor with my version.

In 1996 the station brought a selection of JAM jingles as used on Radio 1 and adapted the melody logo as their own. They even brought the classic travel jingle.

Great Yorkshire Gold 1996 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

Quite a lot of jingle collectors reckon that these were better than they were on Radio 1 although I personally think the ones with sonovox sounded better on Radio 1.

The station also made use of some of the original jingles used by Radio 1 that didn't mention the station name such as "Britain's Number 1" and "Be A Safe Driver".

In 1998 the AM stations rebranded to Magic, joining Leeds who had used the name since 1990 as by this time the station's had been taken over by EMAP.

They ended up selling the Pulse but had acquired Aire FM but despite the large amounts of networking over the years, they have managed to retain their individual names.

Thanks to Simon Hirst, Ian Arnold, Dave Nightingale, Mark Hodgkinson, David Barras, Aston McNeil, Christian Spooner and Rob Thornton.

Pennine Radio/The Pulse

My Dad's hometown calls on our next visit with a look back at the jingles from Pennine Radio and The Pulse Of West Yorkshire, broadcasting to the Bradford area.

It all began in 1975 when Pennine Radio launched with a presenter line up including Steve Merike, Peter Levy, and the late Roger Kirk.

The jingles were by EMIson who around the time were the closest thing the UK had to a jingle company.

1975 Jingles - EMIson

Just before launching Jon Wolfert at JAM had sent over a tape containing ideas for a potential jingle package from Dallas with various melody logos including one based around the "95-PEN" logo from the recently produced "Backseat Music" package.

The concept didn't make it to air and around a year later, a few of the WPEN jingles were airing on Radio 1.

In 1979 the station became one of the first clients outside of Manchester for Alfasound Tapetrix resulting in this package giving an indication of what was to come from the UK's top jingle company throughout the 80s and 90s.

1979 Jingles - Alfasound Tapetrix

Five years later in 1984 the station returned for another package expanding on the earlier Alfasound package with cuts based around different musical decades as well as some rather bizarre instrumental cuts for the specialist shows such as the classical one, the folk one, and the Asian one.

1984 Jingles - Alfasound

Towards the end there's a slower version of the station's signature tune from the 1979 package which I presume was played in the darker hours of the day.

Around 1986 Pennine began sharing it's nighttime programmes with the newly established Viking Radio in Hull and shortly after they acquired Radio Hallam to form the Yorkshire Radio Network.

They initially launched with a generic package featuring the vocals of Jimmy Helmes that can be found in the YRN post above and in 1988 they brought another custom package with a bigger selection of cuts.

1988 Jingles - Alfasound

An aircheck of a station promo and an intro to the news magazine from this era can be heard here.

In 1989 the station split their frequencies and became Pennine FM with the AM frequencies becoming Classic Gold.
The jingles on FM were resings of JAM's "Nonstop Power" and "Laser Image" packages with Alfasound vocals as well as new custom Alfasound tracks.

1989 Jingles - Alfasound/JAM Creative Productions

In August 1991 with ratings on the slide, a relaunch was due and so the station transformed itself into "The Pulse" or Pulse FM to give it it's on air name at the time.

This saw the station's first fully fledged JAM package with JAM vocals and I like how they use the seven voice group on jingles originally done with 5 voices for the American stations.

The Pulse 1991 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

The bods inside the station also produced a demo for the presenters explaining the jingles and I like how they give certain cuts specific names such as the "Melons" one at 3.30 and if you don't get the gag, then I'm not going to tell you.

1991 In-House Demo

There's also the "Cleo" one at 1.14 so called because the sax riff apparently sounds like something Johnny Dankworth would have done.

Hallam FM also used the same cut but had the sax riff removed, possibly because the melody sounded exactly the same as the one used by Radio 1 at the time, which was a sensible idea.

In 1994 a custom package was made for the station by JAM with a lot of the cuts based on a synthesized pulse.

1994 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

There was also another in-house demo produced featuring the voice of John Wells and showing a really good perspective of how the jingles were used.

1994 In-House Demo

More jingles followed in 1995 to complement the exisiting package with cuts taken from JAM's "Energy" package originally done for NRJ in France, and also from ALFA's custom package for Galaxy 101 in Bristol.

1995 Jingles - ALFA/JAM Creative Productions

There's also a rather superb custom news intro near the end although the version that didn't make it to air was even better.

It can be heard here with the traffic jingle.

In 1998 and into 2000 the station started using jingles or should that be
"music imaging" by the newly set up Vibe Music And Audio Imaging ran by fomer YRN presenter Sandy Beech.

The jingles themselves can be heard here via the Music 4 website.

We'll end our journey here although in 2008 the Pennine FM name returned to the area on the station formerly known as "Home FM" for the Huddersfield area.
Sadly it wasn't to last as the station shut down in April this year when a buyer for the station could not be found.

And that's more or less a colourful insight into the on air sound of independent radio in West Yorkshire.

Thanks to David Barras, Simon Hirst, Dave Nightingale, Mark Hodgkinson,
David Hemsley, Dan James, Aston McNeil,
Christian Spooner, and Rob Thornton.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Now Hear All The Cuts!

A very warm welcome to my new blog designed solely for my trawls through countless chronologies of radio stations in the UK with their jingles being the key illustrations.

As the downloads from the posts on my original blog were so popular,
I've decided to give them their own home and there will be plenty more to come over the next month or so containing audio from many stations over t
he years.

This isn't the first post of course, because of the way blogs work, but there's plenty of audio including including two new posts on Trent FM and GEM AM, as I've just returned from a rather nice weekend in the Nottingham area.

The Heart Attack posts will continue to be published on my normal blog as they're topical and relevant to how things are changing but this site will be a place for my ramblings about jingles and stations in general.

Your contributions are more or less welcome so feel free to leave comments or send me an e-mail via RobinBlamires@Easy.com or through Facebook, Twitter, whatever floats your boat.

Remember, these aren't fully accurate historical accounts as such and are based around my take on the jingles themselves and my own thoughts on them.

And I'd best point out that all the audio featured is designed purely for educational use and I believe constitutes section 30 of the Copyright Designs and Patents act of 1988.

Overall enjoy reading, and most importantly listening.

Radio Trent/Leicester Sound/Trent FM

As I've spent the last weekend in Nottingham I thought it would be more than appropriate to post a look back over the many jingle packages (and superb ones at that) used by Radio Trent and Trent FM over their first 20 years on air.

I've been a bit weary about posting this as the man behind many of the packages Len Groat is a regular poster on Jinglemad with tons of stories about the station and it's jingles so if you're reading this, you're more than welcome to make any corrections and extra info.

Here goes.

Radio Trent began broadcasting in the Nottingham area in July 1975 where the first presenter on air was John Peters.

The jingles were produced by Johnny Arthey with the tagline
"Sounds Like You Want To Hear".

1975 Jingles - Johnny Arthey

The jingles and a few additional packages continued throughout the remainder of the decade and presenters included Kenny Hague, Dale Winton, David 'Kid' Jensen and a certain Len Groat who would go on to make the overall sound of the station one of it's main priorities.

An early example included these special cuts by JAM for various presenters from packages such as "Best Country", and "Logoset".

1978 JAM Presenter Jingles

The early 80s saw the arrival of what was to become the UK's most established radio jingle producers Alfasound Tapetrix, and Len having known Steve England for a long time went to the company and ended up becoming essentially their number 1 client.

1980 Jingles - Alfasound Tapetrix

The first of these packages in 1980 took influence from the Pepper Tanner "Simple And Free" package which many believe lead to the WNIC JAM packages in the late 90s. Here are a few examples with the Trent jingles preceeding the originals.

It also established the tagline "Your 24 Hour Friend"
which would be used throughout the decade.

1981 saw a package containing more of the same with a rather superb station song at made specially for "The Summer of 81".

1981 Jingles - Alfasound Tapetrix

Two packages came in 1982 again along the same sort of lines and continuing to use Alfasound's vocal and musician talents to their highest.

1982 Jingles Part 1 - Alfasound

1982 Jingles Part 2 - Alfasound

Another package came in 1983 with a rather good set of presenter IDs.
The melody logo used before the presenters name was also used in the news intro which can be heard in this aircheck with Danny Cox,
although it just misses out the end.

1983 Jingles - Alfasound

Due to the Musician's Union ban on overseas jingles on commercial radio, it was the British companies who had to up their game and during the 80s they were on top form.

It was evident that Len, and Alfasound were trying as much as they could to replicate the Dallas sound in their jingles even to the point of ones that sounded almost very similar to the real thing in the case of this selection of cuts from those above that were very similar to JAM jingles.

Especially as some of them had been used on both Radio 1 and Radio 2.

Jon Wolfert at JAM wasn't impressed, and understandably so as Steve actually brought a resing of the first cut when he was at Picadilly Radio.
However around a decade later, some of the Alfasound cuts would end up on GEM AM with Dallas vocals in a bizarre twist of fate.

However as if that wasn't bad enough two Chiltern presenters AKA "The Bastard Brothers" decided to send up the company with several spoof Trent jingles, although personally I find the above example hilarious.

In 1984 following the bankruptcy and closure of Leicestershire's Centre Radio lead to the eventual purchase of the license for the area resulting in Leicester Sound which began broadcasting in September of that year.

1984 Jingles - Alfasound

The station would share evening and overnight output from Radio Trent, and brought several cuts from the previous pacakges as well as new custom cuts for both stations.
I like the contemporary "younger" sounding cuts from 2.36 onwards and the cracking travel bed based around the theme to "Cagney and Lacey" at 5.11.

And not forgetting that superb jingle sung by Clifford T. Ward near the end.

Oh, and there's also another rather impressive theme song as well.

What you could call passionate presentation.

Synthesizers and electronic effects seemed to have made an effect by the mid 80s and Trent's next package helped to prove this but keeping the real instruments in as well in places.
There's a rather good one at 2.07 which sounds as if it was influenced from the great song by Debarge "The Rhythm Of The Night".

And of course there's what has to be possibly my favourite news intro used by Radio Trent which lasted up to the end of the 80s at 3.32.

1986 Jingles - Alfasound

The following year saw possibly the strongest most energetic package custom produced for Trent and Leicester Sound to coincide with the launch of Radio Trent in Derbyshire on 102.8 FM and 945 AM, which even Len Groat himself has said was his favourite jingle package out of the lot that were done.

1987 Jingles - Alfasound

The stand out cuts include the jingles for different dayparts, and yet another energetic traffic jingle at 3.02.

In October 1988 Trent followed in the footsteps of many commercial stations by splitting their frequencies on AM and FM. Trent and Leicester Sound continued as usual on FM whilst AM saw the launch of what many will consider to be one of the UK's best oldies stations GEM-AM, GEM standing for Great East Midlands.

The jingles from the station can be found on the post below.

On the 1st of January 1989 a brand new jingle package was introduced on FM and the first fully fledged jingle package to include cuts recorded in Dallas.
This was a mixture of custom Alfasound tracks with US vocals and resings of two top Century 21 packages that brought an even more energetic and lively sound to what became permanatley known as Trent FM.

1989 Jingles Alfasound/Century 21

On purchasing a new jingle package, the station would normally produce an In-House demo explaining how they would be used with the 1989 package being no exception, introduced as always by presenter and production enthusiast Danny Cox introducing the package for Trent FM and the questionably named "Sound FM" for Leicester.

1989 In House Demo

The Century 21 jingles, especially those from the Proton package didn't really have enough room for lyrics and were very fast but midway through 1989 Alfasound brought the rights to selling JAM jingles in the UK and Steve had reconciled the earlier problems with Jon evident on the earlier Trent packages.

Len was quick to act and brought a brand new package of JAM jingles mainly consisting of cuts from "The Best Show 2" amongst other cuts from various JAM packages and more custom cuts from Alfasound including a new news intro.

1990 Jingles - Alfasound/JAM Creative Productions

Personally I thought this package was a bit of a comedown from the previous package in terms of moving forward into the 90s, but I like some of the shorter shotgun cuts from "The Best Show 2" at 1.14.

The following year saw a return to form with quite possibly the best JAM package made up of a wide range of JAM packages such as "Breakthrough", "Q-Cuts", "Power Station", and "Omni-Trax".

1991 Jingles - Alfasound/JAM Creative Productions

Not forgetting the superb station songs as produced by Alfasound with some stunning vocal solos that for me anyway, have managed to tug at the heart.
I love how the last cut changes tempo and key at 5.20.

The demo for presenters below includes extra cuts from the "Sunset Blvd" package designed for shared programming overnight with GEM-AM.

1991 In House Demo

In 1992 Trent and Leicester Sound were acquired by Midlands Radio who owned BRMB in Birmingham and Mercia FM.

Leicester Sound's jingles were now made by Muff Murfin done in the same style as Mercia's, whilst Trent continued into 1992 with another package where the stand out cuts were the ones from "CoolJam" including the rather impressive "Catwalk" cut near the end.

1992 In House Demo

1993 saw another JAM package but the demo for presenters this time round featured the voice of John Wells adding extra impact accompanying a stunning package including cuts from "Hyperlink", "Turbo Z", and "KIIS 90".

The KIIS 90 jingles are particualrly effective, especially the new news intro based around cut 18 from the original package.

1993 In House Demo

Ironically, the demo pays attention to the addition of a cut for
"The Summer Of 94" which in the end was never used at all.

By the end of 1993 the Midlands Radio group had been brought by GWR who held meetings "to decide what people wanted from their stations".

In March 1994 Trent FM relaunched as "The New 96 Trent FM" whilst 102.8 changed it's name to "Ram FM" designed specially for Derbyshire.

Len Groat had departed from the station around this time and a great history of radio jingles had more or less been tarnished by the heavilly formatted and uninspring regime of GWR who induced their "Better Music Mix" policy over the East Midlands.

The one thing GWR and Global to this day will never be able to do is to remove the memories of the jingles from listeners past and present, and many jingle fans around the world.

Thanks to Dave Nightingale, David Barras, Aston McNeil, Rob Thornton,
Mark Hodgkinson and of course Len Groat for various audio and information.


Following from the Trent FM post I thought it would be more than appropriate to look back at the many equally superb jingles from the AM station GEM-AM launched in 1988 when Radio Trent and Leicester Sound split frequencies.

October the 4th 1988 was the launch date where all three existing stations decided to mark the launch in style with the launch of a firework from Duncan Goodhew, who along with a group of athletes had ran from the early hours from Leicestershire, through Derbyshire and finishing in Nottingham.

The first presenter on air was John Peters who had switched from Radio Trent
to host breakfast on GEM and the classic PAMS jingles were on air, more or less from the beginning.

Station Launch - 04.10.1988 (Thanks to Simon Parry)

The package consisted of several classic PAMS cuts from the pirates as well as some custom cuts by Alfasound done in a similar style.

Alfasound also produced some really good news and information beds, particularly the sports theme based around the theme to "The Rockford Files".

1988 Jingles - PAMS/Alfasound

Best of all was the station theme, based around an old PAMS jingle from the "Solid Rock 2" package that was also resung Metro Radio in 1974 also under the eye of Len Groat.

However they were unable to locate the original so with the permission of PAMS, Alfasound produced their own version which proved just as well, later being used on 2FM in Ireland.

They came back for more a year later consisting of several more PAMS jingles and some pretty superb Alfasound custom tracks, save for the dodgy Matt Bianco soundalike near the end.

1989 Jingles - PAMS/Alfasound

Presenters included Tony Lyman, Andy Marriot with his "Television Show" with classic theme tunes, Paul Robey, and Anne-Marie Minhall.
Rather bizzarely the station also took the Network Chart on Sundays
in it's early years.

In Leicestershire on 1260khz the station split from the rest of the frequencies to provide it's own Sabras service. The team at Sabras brought a few of the exisiting GEM jingles and more or less ruined them with dodgy UK/Asian vocals.

1988 Sabras Jingles - PAMS/Alfasound

By 1992 1260AM was taking Sabras 24 hours with GEM AM now broadcasting solely to Nottingham and Derbyshire.

Towards 1991 the station was continuing to evolve and Len Groat went to JAM to produce what for me has to be the best jingle package GEM AM have used consisting of cuts from "Special Touch", "The Best Show", "You'll Like Our Style", "Meltdown" and "Follow The Leader".

1991 Jingles - Alfasound/JAM Creative Productions

The latter package featured superb vocals from Jackie Dixon who reached the highest of high notes on the cut at 0.47.

Alfasound also produced some more superb custom cuts including a new news intro at 4.47 which was a lot less manic than the old one.
As well as another really good sports bed at 5.32 based around
"Garden Party" by Mezzoforte.

And not forgetting the station song inspired by the Four Seasons tune "Candy Girl".

Len can be heard showing the package to it's advantage in this extract from a 1991 documentary.
And for all the true radio and jingle fans, an interview also by Len
featuring Jon Wolfert himself where you can probably tell that an hour was certainly not enough for the two of them.

1992 saw another package which included a few jingles from the "Bright Light" package as demonstrated in the earlier interview (if you listened for that long).
There's also a really good cut for the love song show from the WSM package, also used by Radio 2 in the late 70s.

1992 In House Demo

With the station's 5th anniversary approaching, GEM brought possibly it's most enthusiastic and colourful package for 1993. I haven't got the demo or all of the main cuts at hand but here's a selection courtesy of Len himself and the late Rob Thornton which includes several "gems" or so to say.

1993 Jingles - PAMS/JAM Creative Productions

Some of the cuts included come from the "Do It Again" package fro WCBS-FM in New York which Len only just heard when arriving in America. Being quick to act he purchased what I imagine were the first UK resings for the package including the weather bed and the rather impressive presenter IDs when the man himself considers to be the best done by JAM.

I'd say they're second best to those in the Metro FM 1994 custom package as the harmonies in them are unbeatable. But I'll save them for the post on the station itself.

I happened to have a resing of the 5th birthday cut myself from the Z World package although the lyrics on my version are slightly more irreverent.

However the cut towards the end from the "First Of All" package came about when collector and JAM fan Colin Ridley brought the cut to Len's attention as that particular package wasn't available in full due to a lot of the cuts being resung for BBC Radio 2 in the mid 80s.

However the extended song wasn't one of them, so Len got the green light to have it resung for GEM.

Len can also be heard in this short extract playing Jimmy Savile's name jingle to promote his "Savile's Travels" show which was syndicated on many ILR stations at the time.

When Midlands Radio were taken over by GWR, the FM stations were relaunched but GEM AM continued as usual as it was very popular, and although Len Groat had left the station, the JAM jingles continued with Paul Robey now running the station.

His first purchase was this rather unusual package consisting of old Radio Trent jingles by Alfasound with JAM vocals, including a few of the soundalikes that didn't go down to well with Jon Wolfert at first.

Towards the end there's some stunning resings of what has to be my favourite oldies' package by JAM "Good Time Radio" including one at the end which was also used by Radio 1 on their 21st anniversary.

1994 Jingles - Alfasound/JAM Creative Productions

I happened to have another cut from resung from the above package, this one being a birthday jingle for a crush at college called Eloise.

It's extremely syrupy and the sort of thing that should have a health warning.

More classic JAM jingles got the GEM treatment in the next package in 1996 including some really good versions of the "Backseat Music" package originally done back in 1975 for 95 WPEN, especially the Community Calendar jingle at 1.50.
There's also the genuine versions of the cuts from "Special Touch" that had been "adapted" in an earlier Radio Trent package in the 80s.

As well as a another custom made news intro by ALFA towards the end.

1996 Jingles - ALFA/JAM Creative Productions/Top Format

The following package in 1997 saw more superb cuts including Xmas jingles from the "Touch Of Christmas" package which must have saved them a bit of money, as well as cuts from "Outstanding", "Double Plus" and more from the superb "Special Touch" package including that brilliant acapella jingle at 2.16.

1997 Jingles - PAMS/JAM Creative Productions

It's probably not surprising that Paul Robey went onto commision more cuts from the package when he joined Fosseway Radio in Nuneaton as part of the Lincs FM group in 1998.

However GEM couldn't escape the wrath of GWR for too long as by 1998
Tony Lyman started having his show broadcast on the Classic Gold Network throughout the UK and in 1998 the station rebranded to "Classic Gold GEM".

They did have a few final JAM jingles brought in to ease the transition, taken from the "Totally Kool" package that can be heard here.

Nowadays the GEM name has disapeared altogether with 945 and 999 AM now part of the "Gold" network but overall, GEM AM had what have to be the best jingles ever produced for an AM oldies station in the UK.

Credit to David Barras, Simon Parry, Aston McNeil, Stacey Harris, David Furness, Rob Thornton and of course Len Groat.

Monday, 4 May 2009

County Sound Radio

Onto part 2 of my "May The 4th" special and County Sound Radio, the station broadcasting to Surrey and Hampshire where the concept first began over
40 years ago.

By the early 80s it had become a reality and with Frank Muir as one of the backers of the station they began broadcasting on the 4th of April 1983 where the first voice was Frank Muir himself who was brought on as a guest.

Presenters at the time included Paul Owens who was previously at Devonair, the late Simon Cummings, and Sarah Lucas who progressed to Classic FM.

Mike Powell was the station's head of news and presented their extended news programme "County World" on weekday evenings.

The station had it's own theme song which was written by Les Reed who amongst his resume also wrote "Delilah" by Tom Jones and "The Last Waltz" by Engelbert Humperdink.

The original jingles have been hard to get hold of but a few of them can be heard in this selection of airchecks from 1983, including a few by The Swingle Singers who also did a few of the early "194" jingles for Capital Radio.

A year later, Mike Powell had taken over as the Programme Director and being a big radio and jingle fan decided to go over to Alfasound in Manchester for the station's next jingle package where they brought along Les Reed to help them out with jingles based around his established signature tune.

The result can be heard below in the demo from the original Alfasound collector tapes and the enthusiasm of Powell helped to emphasise that this was only the beginning of some of the best jingles on UK commercial radio.

1984 Demo - Alfasound

Two years later Mike had become the MD of County Sound and the station had become one of the first to implement the RCS Selector computer system into their operation to select the music played.

Of course back in 1986 the music was still played off of vinyl and compact discs and the on screen display looked very basic.

Also around this time County Sound moved on FM from 96.6 to 96.4.

The progression continued with the station's first US sung package consiting of Alfasound tracks with Dallas vocals recorded at the Strawberry Studios.
The slightly passe audio quality doesn't really do the tracks justice but they remain one of my favourite custom packages from Alfasound with really lovely vocals and orchestration.

Especially on the fast to slow transition jingles.

1986 Jingles - Alfasound

There was also another version of the station's theme and just for a change
I thought it would be good to have a solo version from top jingle vocalist
Trella Hart.

In addition to the above cuts, a series of Doc Morgan liners were recorded and here's the session itself.

In 1988 County Sound became the first independent local radio station in the South Of England to split frequencies on AM and FM with FM promoted as "The Premier FM" and AM as "The Gold AM" although the jingles announced the station as County Sound Gold.

During the day the stations broadcast seperate output but in the evenings and overnight they broadcast together using the 1986 package.

Onto the jingles themselves and on AM they brought back some of the vintage PAMS jingles that had been used on the pirates Radio London and Radio England back in the 60s. Some of the cuts such as the news and weather intros had also been redone by Alfasound although how they decided which ones were used on air, I've never been too sure.

County Sound Gold 1988 Jingles - Alfasound/PAMS

Amongst the PAMS cuts was a resing of the "Sonowaltz" which can be heard towards the end although the station also recieved a rather naughty version designed to have a dig at their rival Capital Gold which around this time had started broadcasting on AM at weekends only.

County Sound Premier were using resings of the 1986 package with the new station name, as well as some new cuts containing hints of the PAMS jingles with some rather nice presenter IDs.

One of them I've included in the selection below happens to be Jamie Crick, who's now doing well at Classic FM and Gaydar.

County Sound Premier FM 1988 Jingles - Alfasound

A snapshot of that era with Mark Chivers can be heard here.

Also from this time, Mike Powell commissioned Alfasound and TM to produce
a special "Thank You Song" for the staff, advertisers and listeners.

The song was originally written for KVIL in Dallas but when Mike Powell heard it, he knew that it had to be brought for the Guildford based station.
Even TVS got a mention in the song although County Sound served an area where the majority were more likely to receive Thames/LWT.

In 1989 Alfasound began selling JAM jingles and Mike Powell was quick to act by commisioning a new set of jingles for County Sound Premier resung from JAM's "The Only One" package originally written for WNBC in New York.

This has to be one of the station's strongest and most memorable packages which worked perfectly in terms of fitting the "Premier Radio" name into the WNBC logo.

County Sound Premier Radio 1989 Jingles - Alfasound/JAM Creative Productions

The jingles were also adapted to replace the 1986 jingles on the night time service on both stations and there was also a special version of the station theme which made use of both the Premier and Gold melody logos throughout.

And here are the County Sound versions of the Premier jingles.

County Sound 1989 Jingles - Alfasound/JAM Creative Productions

Also during this time, a new station launched in the Haslemere area providing a more formal service to County Sound under the name of Delta Radio.
The jingles were a resing of Alfasound's package for the defunct Centre Radio in Leicester with JAM vocals.

Delta Radio 1989 Jingles - Alfasound/JAM Creative Productions

On AM it wasn't going well as Ocean Sound in Portsmouth kicked up a fuss with County Sound over who had the right to use the name "The Gold AM".

This resulted in County Sound changing the name of it's AM station to
"First Gold Radio" which meant more jingles which consisted of those from the previous Gold package along with a few others including ones that had been used on Radio 1 on it's launch including the one at the beginning of the selection below.

First Gold Radio 1990 Jingles - Alfasound/PAMS

As mentioned in the previous post, Radio Mercury had acquired County Sound in 1991 and relaunch saw County Sound Premier and Delta rebranded as Radio Mercury, whilst County Sound on AM changed it format and jingles to a resing of TM Century's "Classic Oldies" and "Good Time Classics" packages which were actually pretty good in comparison to the station itself.

The new tagline was "Good Company".

County Sound 1992 Jingles - TM Century

Mike Powell left the station when the merger took place and took his radio ventures to other parts of the country, with the launch of Pirate FM in Cornwall
in Spring 1992.

The jingles were once again by JAM and consisted mainly of resings from the Q95 packages, as well as a very catchy station song towards the end which many jingle fans have ended up singing in London town on pub meets.

Pirate FM 1992 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

Many jingle fans who own the Alfasound ILR CD with the Pirate FM demo on their will be familiar with the bizarre mixout of Right On Q cut 15 which ends with "#In Buffalo" for some unexplained reason.

The real reason was that Jon Wolfert at JAM had forgotton to turn off the vocals in the mixdown for a resing of that cut for a station in Buffalo.

In 1993 another station was launched in Slough under the name Star FM which consisted of some delightful resings of the KOST packages as well as a few rare cuts from the KDWB package.

Star FM 1993 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

There was also yet another superb station song, orginally made back in 1979 for WROR.

However with interference on 101.6 coming from KFM in Tonbridge Star FM relocated to 106.6 and brought in resings of the existing cuts as well as a few more from the newer KOST packages.

Star FM 1995 Demo - JAM Creative Productions

Back in Surrey, Radio Mercury had lost the license to broadcast in Surrey and Hampshire and Mike Powell and the UKRD group got it back, bringing back the original County Sound back to AM and FM in September 1995 as well as Delta Radio on 97.1.

The jingles from "The Only One" returned but as there were only a handful of cuts which had "County Sound Radio" in them, they went to JAM and brought a resing of the similar sounding "Nothing But Class" also done for WNBC and contained a superb top of the hour.

County Sound Radio 1995 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

The 3 notes at the beginning of the cut were the signature chimes from NBC but as the radio station WNBC had been long gone, Mike took the opportunity to adapt the NBC chimes as the County Sound chimes by postitioning them at the beginning of each station's top of hour news jingle.

However, County Sound on both AM and FM was a short term plan as in 1996 a new station would be launched on FM under the name 96.4 The Eagle.

The station took to the air in January 1996 with breakfast presenter Peter Gordon and the first record being Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" which was also used to launch Fox FM 7 years earlier.

The jingle package has to be one of my favourites from JAM consisting of cuts from Hot KIIS and Turbo Z, as well as the station song which was the slower version of the song used by Pirate FM, originally from the Channel 4 package which was a television station in the states.

96.4 The Eagle 1996 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

A selection of airchecks featuring overnight "android presenter" Talon can be heard hear with several JAM jingles and a series of rather comforting promos making use of the theme to Star Trek Voyager.

In 1997 over in Berkshire, Star FM brought in a new jingle package resung from "It's Nice" originally for WNIC in Detroit with the station sung as "Wonderful Star FM" to fit in with the WNIC melody logo.

Brekafast presenter Tony James brought a set of additional cuts which for me personally shows what many breakfast shows on UK radio are lacking in terms of presentation, even if these are rather syrupy.

Star FM 1998 Tony James Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

Wey Valley Radio also began using resings of the WNIC jingles that can be heard in this selection of airchecks with the news jingle preceeded by the chimes.

Delta had also dropped it's package after being used on and off for nearly 10 years and replaced it with a resing of JAM's "Totally Kool" but retaining the Delta Radio logo from the previous package.

Delta Radio 1998 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

Not long after, Delta began broadcasting with their name on Wey Valley's frequencies and both stations started using resings of the WNIC jingles.

Delta FM October 1998 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

And County Sound itself on 1476 AM had started broadcasting an overnight oldies service and decided to buy some more classic PAMS jingles.

County Sound 1998 Gold Jingles - PAMS/JAM

In the late 90s 96.4 The Eagle decided to give it's sound a refresh and commisioned a resing of the "Z Plus" package by JAM and a an absolutely stunning top of the hour from "Overdrive".

When I was staying on a PGL study weekend in November 2000
(well, there was barely any studying at all) in Hindhead,
I spent an awful lot of time listening to the station and I doubt anyone else from my secondary school could understand my enthusiasm and routine of making sure I had to have my radio switched on at the top of the hour when possible.

I've been trying to grab hold of the package for a long time although a few airchecks can be heard here with quite a lot of appearances of that news intro.
(Hang on, what's that record playing in at 1.29?)

Around this time UKRD had even extended the Eagle brand to Bristol and Cambridge although by 2001 they rebranded to Star.

I even brought my own version from JAM a few years with a hint of Electric 6 in the vocals and whilst I was impressed with it at the time, I find it excrutiating to listen to.

County Sound Radio around this time had moved from 1476 to 1566 and shortly after the move brought a new jingle package resung from JAM's custom package for the Century Radio network in the UK, later demoed for Mix 100.3 in Denver so it could be sold to US stations.

It was all looking good for the FM stations as well as Mike Powell had been working with Steve England in the UK and Jon Wolfert at JAM to produce a custom package for the FM stations including The Eagle, Pirate FM, and KLFM in Norfolk which the group had brought from GWR.

The tagline was "Today's Radio" and featured a contemporary and uptempo set of jingles from what I'd say had to be JAM's best custom package of the decade in terms of taking things to the next level.

Sadly, Mike decided to move elsewhere in 2001 and the miserable old fart who took over decided not to air the package and replaced the exisiting ones with uninspiring sweepers.

And everyone says that radio has an exciting future...

Anyway the package did resurface on Steve England's website and can be heard below.

UKRD 2001 Custom Package (Unused) - JAM Creative Productions

It did find a place on the VOA stations a few years later as the three note County Sound logo fitted in perfectly, and KIMN had the package demoed in 2006 as "And Now" which can be heard via the JAM website.

Last year County Sound celebrated it's 25th anniversary with a special documentary including an interview with Les Reed as to how the station song came about. Definitely worth the listen and in all cases, I'm sure it's a lot more informative than what I've written above.

Thanks to Sean Saunders, Stacey Harris, David Furness, David Barras for the airchecks, Sean Martin, and most importantly Mike Powell for having a hand in some of the best jingles on UK commercial radio.

Radio Mercury

On this day exactly (because it was a Bank Holiday) in 1992 one of radio's infamous merger's took to the air when Radio Mercury and County Sound merged together to provide a single service over Surrey, parts of Hampshire and parts of Sussex.

And yes, they did use the pun from Star Wars.

That pretty much makes it the ideal time to reminisce about both stations through their jingles, starting off with Radio Mercury which turns 25 in October this year.

Fondly remembered by many radio fans in the UK, Radio Mercury was designed to serve the Surrey and Sussex area with a distinctive sounding station, aware that other commercial stations could be recieved so John Wellington who had succesfully set up Essex Radio earlier in the decade brought in a line up consisting of some of the finest and familiar presenters.

These included ex Capital jocks Tony Myatt and Peter Young on Breakfast and Drive respectively, Ed "Stewpot" Stewart on mornings, Pat Sharpe fresh from Radio 1 to present the evening show for the teens, and Wellington's star from Essex Radio Tim Loyd or "Timbo" as he was known who presented the popular night time show on weeknights on both Mercury and Southern Sound.

With the now ironic tagline "The Heart Of The South" the station was lucky to broadcast from the picturesque location of Broadfield House which overlooked a delightful field and tennis court and to top it all they had a superb jingle package produced by David Arnold and Paul Hart with the Royal Philarmonic orchestra of which the main theme can be heard here.

Many have have thought that parts bear a resemblance to "Music" by John Miles which in turn sounds like the theme to "Blakes 7". To be honest I reckon Danny Elfman should have received a lawsuit when a similar melody appeared in his theme to the Batman movies.

Anyway, back to Mercury and the jingles were based around one of David's earlier packages for Marcher Sound with newer cuts introduced with the extra notes added to the beginning of Mercury's melody logo.

But rather than go on about them, it would be better just to hear them.

1984 Jingles - David Arnold Music

The station went on air on Saturday the 20th of October 1984 where each presenter would do a show for an hour. The first presenter was Ed Stewart but in reality he wasn't actually live in the studio as he had organised a charity golf tournament in Spain, months before the launch was announced so he had to pre-record his part.

A few classic airchecks from aorund the time of the launch can be heard courtesy of Sean Saunders old site featuring Pat Sharpe and Peter Young. It's probably the only time I've heard a presenter acknowledge the IRN newsreader by their name.

At the beginning, the station broadcast on 1521 AM and 103.6 on FM but due to regulations stating that frequencies from 103.5 to 105 were reserved for the BBC, the station on FM moved to 102.7 where it remains today.

The station did special strands such as "The Weekend Of A Thousand Hits"
which would take up a whole weekend with little chat from the presenters not even breaking for the Network Chart as up to the early 90s at least neither
Radio Mercury or Southern Sound broadcast the programme.

More airchecks can be heard here, where at the beginning the presenter fades up IRN too soon so we hear end of the LBC news intro.
Back in those days the IRN feed was a direct link to LBC's on air transmission which remained until 1989 when Satellite technology allowed a single feed from the IRN studio.

In 1991 Radio Mercury merged with County Sound Radio in deeper Surrey and North East Hampshire to form Allied Radio. Radio Mercury took fuller control and on the fourth of May 1992 took over County Sound's FM service and Delta Radio on 97.1 and relaunched them as Radio Mercury.

On 1521, the County Sound name was adapted with a mixture of presenters from both Mercury and County Sound including the late Simon Cummings, Peter Gordon, and newcomer Peter Stewart who presented "The South Tonight" news magazine.

The jingles on AM were resings of the Century 21 WMXJ jingle as used on 210 FM, whilst on FM David Arnold produced some additional cuts with Dallas vocals, to be used alongside the original jingles with the tagline "Your Kind Of Music.

A selection of them and shorter variants of the 1984 package can be heard here courtesy of Neal Bowden.

By the mid 90s the AM station had re-branded to "Mercury Extra AM" whilst on FM the presenters had began to start referring to the station as "Mercury FM".
Some more airchecks from this era can be heard here.

In 1995 Mercury lost the license for Surrey and Hampshire which was brought back by UKRD and County Sound, so Mercury decided to make a fresh start and after 11 years they brought a brand new jingle package consiting of a range of JAM jingles with Alfasound vocals.

The selection ranged from "Brite And Sunny", "Skywave" and my favourite JAM package "Fresh KIIS" amongst others, as well as resings of the Alfasound news and traffic cuts for Lincs FM back in 1992.

Mercury FM 1995 Jingles - Alfasound/JAM Creative Productions

Mercury Extra also recieved new jingles on AM which was a superb selection of cuts from "Hi-Qume", "Sky Trax" and "Digital Mix".

Mercury Extra 1995 Jingles - Alfasound/JAM Creative Productions

It was more than evident that things weren't really working on AM so another rebrand took place shortly after with the name "Fame 1521".

ALFA and JAM were once again brought in to provide another jingle package, this time from the "American Mix" package orginally for WBLI and I think the UK singers gave it a good go.

Fame 1521 1996 Jingles - ALFA/JAM

In the late 90s the Mercury stations were brought by The Essex Radio Group who in turn were also brought by the Daily Mail. Mercury FM was re-branded as
"The Hotter And Fresher Mercury FM" and although the sung jingles disapeared, the enthuasism and wide/uptempo selection of music remained.

AM had yet another re-brand as the station became Breeze on 1521 sharing programmes with the long established AM station for Essex FM.

By the end of the decade the Mercury brand name was stretching out further than Surrey and Sussex as it was adapted for KFM in Tonbridge, Oasis FM in Watford and Ten 17 in Harlow. However with the exception of Watford, most of them dropped the name after a couple of years.

In July 2000 The Daily Mail decided to pull out of radio operations (although thankfully they had sense not to take control of running their stations) and sold the Essex Radio group to GWR and the worse was yet to come.

The relaunch took place in October where breakfast presenter Paul Wisdom was sacked and replaced by Essex FM drivetime presenter Paul Lovett, and an unknown girl called Emma which represented you typical experienced jock/bimbo presenter duo, dominant with GWR's "Morning Crews".

Despite networked programming becoming more dominant, there were still old hands within the station such as Simon Osbourne and Chris Oxlade, and it was down to them that in October 2002 they celebrated the station's 18th birthday in style with a special anniversary show.

The programme can be heard here which contains interviews with many of the old presenters and of course some of the funny stories from over the years such as Richard Branson's ever contrived UFO April Fool's stunt.

You also get a really good sense of the time the programme was transmitted as a result of some of the records played such as Nelly and Kelly, Busted's debut "What I Go To School For" and Pop Idol contestant Sarah Whatmore with "When I Lost You", who didn't get in the final 10 but was proposed to by Simon Cowell on the show.

Mercury for the time being won't be affected by the rebrand but if they did, at least it would mean that the "Heart Of The South" strapline could possibly make a reappearance.

Thanks to Sean Saunders, Neal Bowden, Stacey Harris, Chris Stevens and David Furness.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Hallam FM

Today is 20 years to the day since Hallam FM began transmitting as an FM only station for Sheffield and South Yorkshire and with the 35th anniversary of Radio Hallam approaching later in the year, I thought it would be a good time to take a trip back in time and look back at the many IDs from the station.

Radio Hallam began in October 1974 with a presenter line-up consisting of Radio 1 veterans Johnny Moran, Roger Moffat, and Keith "Screws" Skues.

You could say it was a "shaky start" as the first record played "I've Got The Music In Me" by Yorkshire resident Kiki Dee got stuck just over a minute in
and Johnny Moran had to change it pretty hastily.

The main theme
jingles were written by Ray Martin and produced by EMIson which established the familiar melody logo used by the station beyond the station's first decade. The jingles also make clever use of the song "On Ikley Moor Bah 'Tat" made more famous by Yorkshire Television.

1974 Jingles - EMIson

I'm guessing that as a station itself in those days it wasn't perfect, and I'm judging that solely on a comment made by Len Groat on Jinglemad
saying that Sarah Kennedy's show on Radio 2 wouldn't have sounded
out of place in Hallam back in those days.

That sounds like the perfect summing up.

In line with many stations, various pop stars used to record their own special jingles for the station used alongside the main packages and one of my favourites has to be this one by Pilot, based around their 1975 number 1 "January".

The main jingles themselves used by Radio Hallam also had vocalists who had sung on pop records with one example being this one from 1979 based on the theme of "Hallamland". The jingles were produced by Sue Manning and the male vocalist was the late Mike Smith who used to perform with the Dave Clark Five back in the 1960s.

1979 Jingles - Sue Manning Music

A really well written jingle package although sadly the original master was destroyed when Hallam moved studios in the mid 90s.
I remember reading that former presenter Simon Hirst and jingle fan
Dave Nightingale were gutted to the point of tears when they heard about the disposal.

The jingles themeselves are more extended songs than jingles although there
is a hint of the Radio Hallam logo played towards the end of some of the cuts
on guitar.

Three years later they returned to Sue Manning and brought an equally superb jingle package featuring the vocals of Kiki Dee and Gerrard Kenny.

1982 Jingles - Sue Manning Music

I really love the orchestration and solos, not to mention the synthy robotic cuts towards the end and that ever sinister news intro at 3.42.
If I was to be woken up by that in the middle of the night, it could lead to dreadful consequences.

The package saw a few additional cuts including ones for the station's 10th anniversary and cuts resung with the tagline "Number 1 In Yorkshire".

Bill Mitchell had been long used as the voiceover on Radio Hallam at this time, although I seem to remember a story about one of the presenters wanting a liner for his show, but as Bill wasn't available the said presenter spent the night smoking a load of cigarettes in order to get his voice gravelly enough to try and do his own one.

The end of 1985 saw what has to be one of my favourite packages for the station being introduced, produced by Alfasound and featuring the stunning vocals of Jimmy Helmes who later went onto have chart success in the early 90s with Londonbeat.

A very powerful and uptempo package and very well produced.

1985 Jingles - Alfasound

As you'll here from some of the cuts however, the restrictions of the IBA were still present well into the mid 80s as there are cuts for the classical show and the big band show which kind of spoilt the concept of Hallam being a
"24 hour power station".

Changes had to be made and with the IBA relaxing the rules, Radio Hallam joined force with Pennine and Viking to form the Yorkshire Radio Network in 1987.
This saw the introduction of another package which again featured Jimmy Helmes on vocals but I'll save them for a later post about the network.

More jingles were made for the network throughout the late 80s with the one below establishing a more coherent sound for all three stations.
Hallam's version can be heard below.

1988 Jingles - Alfasound

By 1989 the government had enforced a ruling that all commercial radio stations had to broadcast a different service on AM or they would lose the frequency. Radio Hallam followed suit and on the 1st of May 1989 they would be changing their on air identity to Hallam FM whilst AM would broadcast the syndicated Classic Gold service with Viking and Pennine.

Here's the pre-launch promo, and the launch itself featuring Howard Pressman.

The jingles themselves were the same as the rest of the network containing JAM resings with UK vocals and Alfasound custom tracks.

1989 Jingles - Alfasound/JAM

Into the 90s Hallam was wanting to add more of it's own identity outside the network, so they introduced a new logo and their own seperate jingle package which continued along the same theme as the last, but with it's own strapline "The Sound Of Success".

The package contained re-lyriced versions of the 1989 jingles but with a couple of new cuts including the Morning song from Turbo Z and a superb version of a cut from the "Non Stop Power" package towards the end of the selection below.

1990 Jingles - Alfasound/JAM

I'd even say that the version with UK singers was better the JAM original, although you can make you own decisions through this example.

1991 saw the station's first fully fledged JAM package with JAM vocals and it was a stirling effort consisting not just of cuts from Turbo Z like everyone else, but also a few of the earlier Z100 packages such as Warp Factor and Red Hot.

1991 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

I happened to have a resing of one of the cuts done for myself as you'll hear
in this example, although which one is better isn't really for me to say.

Although it is rather exciting to hear "Yorkshire" sung through sonovox.

Another JAM package followed in 1993
based around some of packages done for Q95 in Detroit although there were also cuts from a few of the Z100 packages and "Power Station" for WPLJ. Amongst the cuts included are the stunning top of hour jingle from Q Cuts at 0.25 which was also used by Key 103.

1993 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

In addtion here are a few more name shouts.

The premise was the station being "The New Hallam FM" but not in the same way as GWR relaunched their stations such as "The New Trent FM", "The New 2CR FM" etc.
Partly because jingles were still present on Hallam FM but the premise was that no obscure records would be played and that all the songs played would be ones that the listeners would know, old or new.

Presenters by this time included James H Reeve who hosted the phone in show, and fresh faced Chris Rogers who shortly went over to Newsround on CBBC and now reports for ITV News.

1995 saw another JAM package, this time based around the "Metroline" package orginally done by JAM for Metro FM in Newcastle.
I like how they changed the melody logo in the Hallam package although for obvious reasons it sounded better with the Metro FM tune.

Anyway, here they are.

1995 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

It's also worth hearing the superb top of hour news intro which has to be
one of the perfect examples of a sung news intro.

Then in 1997 the station went to TM Century and brought a package resung from "LA's Number 1 Hit Music Station" and "We Play The Hits" originally for KIIS FM Los Angeles.

1997 Jingles - TM Century

Considering that some of the cuts dated back to 1991, they sounded more fresh compared to the previous JAM jingles and I reckon they'd still work today.

Daryl Denham was hosting breakfast by this time and decided to get a few variants on his name jingle shortly after, with hilarious results.

Daryl Denham TM Century Jingles 1998

This was only the beginning however, as Daryl then went onto present an X Rated version of his breakfast show each month with a few classic PAMS jingles which were given a rather dirty makeover.

Not for those who are easily offended.

Daryl Denham PAMS Jingles 1998-2000

In 1999 a new jingle package (if you can call it that) was introduced from Octagon Music with a more youthful urban sound in comparison with the Dallas jingles.

1999 Jingles - Octagon Music

From what I've heard, Simon Hirst who presented drive around this time hated them when they were introduced and it was a bit of a comedown when you look at all the others done earlier in the decade.

However the man who composed the jingles themselves recently made a few posts on Jinglemad explaining how the package was made and the only problem he had was that the melody logo sounded like a football chant.

In line with many stations in the early noughties, sung jingles made a disapearance from Hallam's airwaves until a new set of jingles from Reelworld arrived in 2004 based around their Kiss 106.1 package.

By the end of 2005 the station brought their own custom package from the same company which contains some very clever takes on tunes that were big around this time such as The Rasmus and Natasha Bedingfield.

2005 Jingles - Reelworld Productions

And that takes us right up to 2009 where the production company has changed but the melody logo and strapline is still the same, with these jingles from
Wise Buddah.

2009 Jingles - Wise Buddah

Overall they're definitely a station that's gone through the full circle of radio jingles in terms of styles throughout the last 25 years.

Thanks to Simon Hirst, Dave Nightingale, Christian Spooner, Pete Wilson,
Mark Hodgkinson, Chris Stevens and Aston McNeil for various audio and info.

Radio Aire

Here we go then, yet another dissection of a radio stations history, in the first of a series of stations who won't be taken over or rebranded, but deserve some sort of nostalgic wallow.
And this time being the ideal time to do so whilst I've got plenty of spare time before I finally leave Harrow Halls.

The first port of call on my jaunting is Leeds' very own commercial station
Radio Aire, launched in 1981 and broadcasting to the big city
(appropriately enough) to this day.

And as a lot of people on my radio course past and present hail from the area, I thought I'd attempt to find out more about the station that they would have listened to at one time or other.

Remember, this isn't historic or factual account of the station in detail, and is written entirely on my own point of view paying specific attention to the jingles themselves.

And if anyone's got any additional information/corrections, or extra audio then you're more than welcome to help out as always.

Radio Aire began broadcasting in September 1981, with BBC Radio Leeds covering the West Yorkshire area for almost 15 years prior to launch.

The first jingle package was one by a little known company by the name of Crocodile Music where the main theme can be heard here. From my own personal perspective there's a hint of David Arnold in the jingles themselves in terms of the brass, although Aire never went to the man himself for a custom package in their 25+ years on the air.

Anyway here's the rest of them.

1981 Jingles - Crocodile Music

Presenters around the time included Peter Levy who went on to become a familiar face on the BBC's Look North, James Whale who joined the station in it's second year having previously presented at Metro Radio in the North East, and Andy Kershaw on one of his first rungs on the broadcasting ladder.

Top voice over artist Bill Mitchell was brought in to provide some spoken liners which can be heard below.

Radio Aire Bill Mitchell Liners

1983 saw the disposal of the original jingles (but not on a long term basis) in favour of these cuts from an unknown company, with a very synthy 80s sound.
If anyone knows who produced them, it would be very helpful.

Radio Aire 1983 Jingles

A year later they had another package produced, this time by David Reilly and as the lyrics suggest was specially made for use in 1984 on it's own. It's quite a nice orchestral theme with really good vocals although I've never understood the principle aim of the package with regards to the year.

1984 Jingles - David Reilly

In a bizarre twist of fate, 1985 saw a return to the original 1981 package for a few more years.

The late 80s saw what many jingle fans would consider to be one of Aire's
best packages, courtesy of Muff Murfin's Standard Sound based in Worcester.

The programme controller around this time was one Christa Ackroyd, formerly
the station's head of news and by 1990 would be one of the main presenters
of YTV's Calendar for 11 years before crossing over to Look North.

This consisted of custom cuts, as well as resings of cuts from TM's US packages such as "Rock Solid" and Murfin's Capital Radio 1984 custom including the traffic jingle at 8.47.

1987 Jingles - TM/Standard Sound

Although the audio quality on the MP3 isn't 100%, it doesn't add an advantage to the fact that I think the vocals are too aggressive (as per normal for a Muff Murfin package) and in places are poorly sung. One key example being "Radio Aire Main Event" bed at 3.57 which many have misinterpreted as "Radio Aire Merry Men".

There's also that dodgy "Heading Into The 90s" cut at 1.55 although thankfully it wasn't a signifier of the jingles that were to come.

In line with many independent local radio stations, Radio Aire split frequencies in 1990 to become Aire FM on 96.3, and Magic 828 on AM.

There was initally a poor reception on FM due to the "More Music" format and quite a few listeners stayed loyal to AM where a few of Aire's more maturer presenters had moved.

Aire FM had it's first JAM jingle package which was a resing of the much used
KIIS 90 package.

Aire FM 1990 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

In line with many other US influnced FM stations in the UK, American voiceovers were used in line with the sung jingles, with Aire using JR Nelson.

One such liner that I'm not sure made it to broadcast, can be heard here.

Magic 828's were
from Century 21's "Classic Oldies" package which many jingle fans regard to be the best resing of said package for a UK station.

Magic 828 1990 - Century 21

Shortly after they went to TM with US vocals resung from a package called "The Magic Of Boston" which fitted in nicely.

Magic 828 1990 Jingles - TM Productions

Two years later Aire returned to JAM for another package, this time for a resing of "The Beat" for Los Angeles urban station "FM 92 The Beat" which brought back the original name to the station's jingles as "Radio Aire FM".

One of my favourite JAM packages around this time which has some superb solos and a brilliant weather bed, even if it does sound like something from
the Dirty Dancing movie.

Radio Aire FM 1992 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

Chris Moyles had been at the station for a few years and can be heard in
this clip using the fantastic hour opener as uncovered by JK and Joel at Radio 1
a few years ago.
Whether a jingle as lively and uptempo as that works for a love songs show is debateable.

I refer you to Chris's comments about love song shows on the radio in his 2006 autobiography where he gets it spot on.

Aire went to TM Century in 1994 with a fantastic composite of cuts from "The New WPLJ", "Y-98 FM" and "Dallas Power".

I haven't got the whole package as such at the time of writing, but here's a selection as posted last year by fellow JingleMad member Neal Bowden.

Radio Aire FM 1994 Jingles - TM Century

Another fellow jingle fan and Yorkshire resident Martin Simm once mentioned how the second cut in the above montage was used as part of a fireworks display or something or other on an outside broadcast which would have looked great from a visual sense.

In addition to them there's also a selection of cuts done for Carl Kingston who was a mainstay of Radio Aire for many years, also including a few cuts making use of the earlier JAM packages.

More changes were ahead in 1995 as the programme controller had heard a package by LA based company Groove Addicts for BRMB in Birmingham and wanted to have it done for Aire FM.

However it cost too much money to have it resung so Aire turned to local production company Mezzo who did the theme music for James Whale's ITV Nighttime Show and they came up with the example below which worked well.

Aire FM 1995 Jingles - Mezzo

Impressed by the first effort, more were commisioned with the new on air name "The New 96.3 Aire FM" and a vibrant and uptempo selection of cuts including ones that sounded like Livin' Joy, and another sounding very similar to Incognito.

Around this time Bruno Brookes had joined the station as one of their presenters after being dropped by Radio 1.

Aire FM 1996 Jingles - Music Force

Jingles then made a disapearance from both Aire and Magic from the late 90s
into the early 90s until around 2001 when Aire FM rebranded back to Radio Aire.
They intitially had a jingle package by Reelworld resung from the Kiss 100 custom from the London dance station, which was followed by a resing of a package for Kiss 108 FM in Boston.

2003 Jingles - Reelworld

2006 saw a new custom package in time for the station's 25th anniversary produced in the UK by Wise Buddah. The package included two cuts for Simon Logan's breakfast show and I bet he told the guys at the company to make it as close as they could to their jingle for Chris Evans' Radio 2 show.

2006 Jingles - Wise Buddah

And I had to upload this from Martin Kelner's podcast where he was invited to Radio Aire's 25th birthday do in September that year which included a brilliant speech by James Whale. (Contains strong language)

A good excuse to also upload the song "Bimbo" which was released as a single at the height of the shows success around 1989.

Which brings us pretty much up to date where the station brought some more jingles by Wise Buddah in 2008 picking up from the themes established from a couple of years earlier.

2008 Jingles - Wise Buddah

Overall a diverse insight into the jingles that made up the station sound of one of the UK's most recognised commercial radio stations.

Credit to David Hemsley, Steve Maguire, Sean Martin, Christian Spooner,
Mark Hodgkinson, Aston McNeil, Martin Simm, Neal Bowden,
and Dave Nightingale.

And special mention to Rob Thornton who I'm sure would have been very appreciative of this post, being a man who lived in the area and was a really helpful jingle collector.