Jingle Jaunts

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

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Metro Radio

This has been one I've been looking forward to for a long time, so let's get straight to it and head back 35 years to the Newcastle station's first jingle package as produced by PAMS in Dallas, which was quite a rarity on commercial radio in those days.

1974 Jingles - PAMS Productions

These were commissioned by presenter Len Groat who was a massive fan of jingles from Dallas and brought some of the finest to Metro Radio. I particularly like the cuts at the beginning, and the shouts for the presenters at around 50 seconds in.

And not forgetting the main theme as taken from the Solid Rock 2 package by PAMS, which Alfasound later reworked for Len at GEM AM, 14 years later.

I'd go as far as saying that these were PAMS jingles at their finest and I definitely prefer them to the ones that were dominant on the pirates in the 1960s.

The Musicians Union on the other hand weren't so impressed and Metro's following package in around 1977 came from British companies EMIson and YAMCO, which once again stood for "Yer Actual Music Company".

The jingles themselves, also used on Beacon Radio were definitely inferior to those in Dallas with some of the cuts being rather dodgy doppelgangers of JAM tracks.

1977 Jingles - EMIson/YAMCO

It's also worth mentioning this cut based around the song "Am I The Same Girl" by either Dusty or Swing Out Sister depending on your generation.

Quite a few jingle fans included that in their CD mixes for Jingle Day 4 in 2005, possibly because the tune had recently been resurfaced by Joss Stone.

We'll fast forward just about a decade later to the mid 80s where Metro had already brought a package from Alfasound which is pretty rare and I don't know of anyone who has a polished copy.

In 1986 the station brought another custom from the clocktower which was vibrant fast paced package with a predominantly male vocal group along the theme of "More Music Metro".

1986 Jingles - Alfasound

A really strong package and there was to be more of the same throughout the rest of the decade.

With the IBA relaxing rules on ownership and sponsorship, Metro was allowed to acquire neighbouring station Radio Tees in Stockton and Darlington, and they comissioned a joint package featuring dual cuts for both stations and individual jingles.

Metro And Tees 1987 Jingles - Alfasound

Further additions came in the same year including presenter cuts for Mark Goodier shortly before he joined Radio 1, and Clive Warren who shortly transferred to television, who's cut can be heard at the end in a more than phonetic manner.

1987 Add Ons - Alfasound

In 1988 the station split frequencies with more cuts introduced on FM based around then current chart soundalikes such as The Pet Shop Boys and Michael Jackson.
There's even a vintage PAMS cut in there from the "Fun Vibrations" series.

1988 Jingles - Alfasound/PAMS

Over on AM, Metro and Tees merged to form a new oldies station by the name of Great North Radio which was also abbreviated as GNR. This resulted in a custom package from Alfasound containing Dallas vocals with some stunning female solos adding to the sugary style.

Some of the beds sound very similar to what you would find on an album by The RAH Band.

GNR 1988 Jingles - Alfasound

The package was later resung for the Yorkshire Radio Network's "Classic Gold" that can be heard on the YRN blog post.

In 1990 the main station had fully become Metro FM and brought it's first fully fledged US sung package after over 15 years when Alfasound brought the rights to JAM jingles for the UK.

This set was rather big containing resings of not just the ever popular "Turbo Z" but also cuts from "Hot KIIS", "Laser Image" and "Warp Factor" including cuts that had been used on Radio 1 earlier in the 80s.

Metro FM 1990 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

More of the same followed in 1991 when an additional set of jingles containing cuts from "New York Fan", "KIIS 90" and "Z Force" amongst other packages were brought in.

Metro FM 1991 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

GNR also brought a new set of JAM jingles containing cuts from the also heavily resung "2 Kool" package and a cut from the otherwise underused "Rock Connection" package as well as a few Christmas cuts from the KVIL "A Touch Of Christmas" set.

GNR 1992 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

1994 saw Metro FM go even further when they brought their own custom JAM package in time for their 20th birthday.

This was a very polished and brilliantly sung package with some superb music tracks giving a very strong and recognisable melody logo.

You could say it gave me a few ideas.

Here it is and it's quite a big one.

Metro FM 1994 Custom "Metroline" - JAM Creative Productions

Some of the stand out cuts include the superb beds for concert promotions and the roadshow but my overall highlight has to be what I'd consider to be the best presenter ID jingles I have heard from a JAM package that can be heard at 3.35.

So how about a few more? Including some shotgun versions.

In 1997 the station decided to take things to the next level by commisioning a custom package by ALFA with vocals recorded in Los Angeles. It wasn't as bold as the previous package but nontheless a sign of continuing progression.

1997 Demo - "LA Connection"

Sadly it was to be one of ALFA's final custom packages before they went into liquidation.

At the turn of the millennium Metro reverted it's name back to Metro Radio but followed in the lines of many stations by resorting to sweepers, although jingles returned around 2003 in the form of a package from Reelworld.

Some of the sweepers were amusing, such as these examples for The Brian Moore Breakfast Show in 2001.

GNR in 1998 relaunched as Magic on 1170 and 1152 AM where the first record was "We Built This City" by Starship. They also had a jingle package consisting of JAM's "Master Mix" and "Evolver" packages.

Magic 1152/1170 1998 Jingles - JAM Creative Productions

The station later went on to using the Steve England custom package for the network in 2003.

Overall with 35 years to it's bow, Metro has definitely had a strong history of radio IDs out of any UK commercial radio station.

Thanks of course to David Barras, Neal Bowden, David Furness, Dave Nightingale, Graham Collins, Aston McNeil, Simon Hirst, and Len Groat for various audio and extra info.


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