Is the jingle really dead?



So, apparently, the radio jingle is dead.

Or at least it’s dead to BBC Radio 1.

Or it is according to a report in The Guardian

This is of course not true, but it’s interesting what “real people” perceive as radio jingles and imaging.

Chris Moyles is a huge fan of radio craft and heritage. He’s worked on stations that used jingles as a core part of their station sound throughout his career, including stations such as Radio Luxembourg, Chiltern Radio and Capital FM. And he was on these stations when the station sound included huge chunks of sung jingles. And he worked with them extremely well. So it was no surprise that when he took over the breakfast show on Radio 1, he commissioned a huge number of jingles over the years. But he did this deliberately to create a brand for his show. These jingles were always OTT and deliberately had a very clear nod to the past in their mood and construction – pastiching the work of the huge US jingle companies such as JAM Creative Productions. And to add to that feel, he used original Radio 1 jingles from the 80s and early 99s during his weekly Golden Hour.

Since Chris is moving on, there is no surprise that radio 1 is “killing the jingle”. But actually,it’s not.

Jingles have always been a part of creating a station’s on air image. “Imaging” has always been around on radio, but wasn’t always called that. And an audio identity for a station is more than just jingles, Voiceover, production effects and music. It’s all about the personality of the station brand.

For a station like Absolute Radio and Jack FM, it’s about the voiceover,the way the promos and liners are written and the way they execute things on air. For BBC Radio 2, it’s as much about the jingles and VoiceOver they use and also the presenters themselves. Jingles are a part of it, but not all of it.

The pitching document for the new imaging package for the Radio 1 breakfast show with Nick Grimshaw states:

The Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw launches in late September. We are looking to commission a strong sonic identity for it.
The new Breakfast Show will sound young, exciting, big and confident. It needs to stand out and not sound like any previous BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Shows.
The new theme will need to sound slickly produced and original, including a significant element of live instrumentation and an identifying motif (logo).
Please steer clear of sung jingles and variants of Breakfast themes and identities past and present.
* update* The following line should be included in the imaging – ‘The Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw’ – Please use a voice you think would be appropriate.

Increasingly, the line between “jingles” and “imaging” has become blurred. Radio 1’s current on air imaging was produced in Europe by the jingle company Pure Jingles. It’s has a hugely distinctive sonic identity and energy that fits the radio 1 sound. And that’s essentially the crux of this. The station sound of any station needs to blend and be appropriate for the type of music the station is playing, the feel of the station and the personality that the PD is attempting to generate for their station. Sometimes that means traditional jingles will work. Sometimes that needs a new approach.

And there is no right way to do this.

When I was making Imaging at Capital FM in London, we were asked to change the station sound ( and on air name) a number of times. Each time, the on air sound changed with it. Sometimes we used vocals. Then we used a traditional package. At one stage, the imaging had no jingles as part of it, but used samples of old jingles within it.

The problem for Radio 1 is that essentially it has become 2 stations. The Chris Moyles Show is one part, and the rest of the station is something else. Both have completely distinctive sounds and both complement each other to a degree. But for a station that has to become younger and lose the older end of its audience, having a breakfast show with imaging that sounds like the station did 20 years ago, however ironic, doesn’t necessarily help.

So expect a new sound. No big vocal harmonies. And a more coherent sound across the whole station.

And once Moyles leaves breakfast, maybe the end of jingles.

But then again, he has a new show coming – so don’t count on total death of jingles quite yet.

2 thoughts on “Is the jingle really dead?

  1. I find it stunning that the national media have stirred up a debate about jingles! Great thoughts James – I especially like your point about “jingles” and “imaging” becoming blurred.

  2. I find it stunning that the national media have stirred up a debate about jingles! Great thoughts James – I especially agree with your point about ”jingles” and ”imaging” becoming blurred.

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