Jingle Jaunts

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

Friday, 12 June 2009


News identification jingles have always been an essential part of a radio station's jingle package.

However when it comes to grabbing the listeners attention, I reckon some of them went a bit too far resulting in rather traumatic consequences on a personal level, mainly because of the sudden transition from a light hearted show to a very serious news bulletin as was the case on many a UK station during the 1980s.

I know it has a place in people's hearts but the worst one for me had to be Radio 1's during the 80s.
There were several variants of course to coincide with changes in the melody logo, but this one from 1982 pretty much sums it up.

I don't actually remember hearing this or any of Radio 1's sung news intros on air at the time, having only started listening when the 1990 package was introduced by a weird coincidence, but having heard audio of it from airchecks, it has resulted in rather bad incidents thinking about at night, and it was what partly resulted in me going rather cranky in August 2007.

The jingle has all the elements of how not to do a news jingle, from the timpani at the beginning, the dodgy synth tune, and having a sung vocal.

I know it did it's job on the station for almost 15 years but for me I have to agree with what Rod McKenzie at Newsbeat would say about it now.

That's not to say commercial radio were any better.

During the early to mid 80s, several stations had their own rather creepy news intros that I would not want to hear when least expected in the middle of the night.

Here's just a few of them

ILR News Intros (Early 80s)

For those unfamiliar with the idents, they're for stations such as Radio Hallam in 1982, Radio 210 in 1980, Wiltshire Radio in 1982, Radio Victory in 1980 with the Pompey Chimes melody, and Mercia Sound in 1986.

The infamous Radio City news intro at the end was actually composed in 1974
by Gerry Marsden with the vocal performed by Madaleine Bell and became a familiar sound to Liverpudlians for 15 years despite several different jingle packages.

The main reason I have a rather nervous disposition with the above examples is because of them proceeding a stern voiced IRN newsreader, adding to the sinister nature.

Unless someone else knows otherwise, only one commercial station actually had "IRN" sung in their news intro which was Capital Radio back in 1984.
The only other station overall was Parkside Hospital Radio in London, back in 1989 with a resing of this classic PAMS jingle.

A couple of news intros from the latter half of the decade fall into the category of "authorative but not too sinister" which were Capital Radio in 1987 and Southern Sound in 1989 both featuring the voice of Michael Jayston AKA "The Valeyard" in Doctor Who.

Capital/Southern News Intros - Late 80s

By the early 90s many commercial stations on FM had turned into American influenced pop formats with Dallas sung jingles and the majority of news intros by this time had turned into more lively but positioning top of hour IDs identifying the station with pride and leading nicely into the bulletin.

Examples from many stations both Local and National can be heard below.

90s And Onwards News Intros

Some of my favourites include the Key 103 intro from 1993 voiced by Brian James , the one for Essex FM at the beginning from 1996 and the Eagle from 1999 which goes to show that there's nothing wrong with a sung news jingle, provided that it doesn't have the word "news" sung in it as I find that innapropriate for some reason.

The instrumental ones work well too such as Invicta FM's from 1993, the Buzz FM top of hour also used on Jazz FM for the second jingle package in 1992 which sounds rather like a demo tune on a Casio, and the current one for Jazz FM on DAB which has to be my favourite news intro currently on a UK station.

It makes a change from the rather bland sweepers and drones that dominate several other stations although when it comes to news jingles overall they need to stand out without making the listener stand out of their skin.

Just my own thoughts...

Thanks to David Barras, Aston McNeil, Dave Nightingale, Sean Saunders, Christian Spooner, Stacey Harris, David Furness, and Sean Martin for various audio and background info.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home