Jingle Jaunts

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

Monday, 11 May 2009


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.


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