Wednesday, January 04, 2017

They can sing 40 of their greatest hits in one minute

Here's one for radio geeks (and music lovers).  Very few people appreciate the precision that goes into singing radio jingles.  You have six singers, different harmonies, and they have to be absolutely in perfect sync.  It's a very specialized field.  (Clayton Kershaw's father used to sing radio jingles for many stations around the country.)

Radio jingles are the signature of a station -- the Golden Arches.  Mention KRTH to anyone in Los Angeles and they'll automatically sing "K-rth 101."   I'm sure there are stations in your market that you identify by their signature jingle.  

Jhani Kaye, who was the program director of KRTH in Los Angeles, videotaped a jingle recording session from 2007.  He just recently uncovered the tape and posted it on YouTube.

Leading the session is Johnny Mann.   Sad to say he passed away a few years ago.   But he was quite famous for creating radio jingles in the '60s (e.g. the famous KHJ "Boss Radio" package)  Additionally, he recorded albums (the Johnny Mann Singers), and hosted a syndicated flag waving/patriotic sickeningly wholesome syndicated series called STAND UP AND CHEER.

Don't know the names of all of the singers, but I do know the lead singer (the blonde on the left in the green top) is Grammy winner Darlene Koldenhoven.  (There are a couple of shots when they show the people in the control room and you might spot me for a second or two.) 

Darlene is a friend and there have been times she's been in my car, I'll have KRTH on the radio, a jingle will come on and she'll sing along with it.  Everyone sings in the car, but rarely do you hear the actual person singing live with herself.  If only I could get Adele in my car.  (Maybe if I said I was James Corden.)

Now a note about watching this: You (hopefully) will find it fascinating to watch the precision of these fine musicians as they weave through very complicated vocal charts very quickly.  (Brian Wilson, if you're reading this, you're welcome.)  But the repetition might start driving you bonkers.  I suspect many of you will watch for a couple of minutes, get the gist, and move on to your Facebook page or porn.   But some radio nerds will stay with the whole twelve minute video and then watch it again seventeen times.

In any event, you'll be singing "K-rth 101" in your sleep.

33 comments :

B.A. said...

Kind of painful to listen too. I heard radio jingles for most of my life and they're completely gone from the world. These singers might as well have been doing a stone age dance.

katenhor said...

That was a lot of fun...I listened to the whole thing! and could easily do so again.

Scott said...

Thanks for this, Ken. I am hearing "K-Earth 101" in my head now. I may answer the phone that way today. Working mostly in Public Radio, I never got to play ID sounder jingles, but I wish I had.

Stephen Marks said...

Mann singers: "K-Vine Podcast - Friday Questionsssssssss!"

"Yes it's Friday and you all know what that means, first up is Barefoot Billy Aloha who asks......

HollywoodMozart said...

We all criticize what we do not understand.

HollywoodMozart said...

No, not quite. What's gone from the world is the money to buy them.

Douglas C Brown said...

When I was Production Director at K-Earth in late '88-'92 I had the pleasure of working with Johnny Mann on some new K-Earth jingles. We recorded at a small studio in North Hollywood. We were considering mixing the a cappella in stereo for the first time. We did stereo mixdown but were not sure how this would "print" on air. So, Mann entrusted the mutlitrack master tape to me. I went back to the K-Earth studio and we began experimenting in the middle of the night with various mixes and EQ. Chief Engineer Bob Kanner was in the parking lot in his Olds Cutless and Delco radio doing critical listening. We tried many different versions but settled in the end for a sharp mono mix. I was a wonder to watch Mann and his pro singers double and triple themselves with such precision and feeling. Also got to sit in for more Mann jingles for K-Joy in '93.

John Hammes said...

Hippie 1: "Hey Man, is that FREEDOM ROCK?"

Hippie 2: "YEAH Man!"

Hippie 1: "Well, TURN IT UP, Man!"


-- The Freedom Rock Commercial, 1987. Another Classic Moment for Radio.

Ron Benson said...


Night time is the right time
to listen and enjoy
KFWB

So, sit back and relax
in pyjamas or slacks
and KFWB yourself.

Peter said...

Mel Gibson wins Director of the Year award at Capri Hollywood Fest. This a turning into a horror year Ken.

Make your predictions on Oscars Ken.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Hey Doug,

I think the No. Hollywood studio was The Bakery. That's where we went to have the San Diego jingles sung in '97 or so. I grew up listening to Boss Radio, and to have the Johnny Mann Singers sing my name...was nearly a religious experience. :)

- Myron W. Lipshitz

:)

benson said...

For this Chicago kid, there is only one set of call letters worthy of jingles.

W-L-S!

@Barefoot Billy. One of John Records Landecker's best lines is so true"

Why did I get into radio? To have people sing my name.

Unknown said...

Awesome! But, how's about one of those week-long KYA jingles you played in San Francisco? Ya know, the ones you could make a bathroom trip and still return in time to hear "...KYA..K YYYAAAAAA....Saaaaannnn Frannnnciscooooo"...? ...:-) Cheers beaver Cleaver!!! willie b

Darlene Koldenhoven said...

Great write up Ken. Thanks so much for the mention. I remember meeting you at one of those sessions at The Bakery Studio in North Hollywood with Andy Waterman engineering/mixing and the great Johnny Mann conducting/composing. It was an honor to be his lead soprano for about two decades and it was SO much fun singing these jingles from all over the country. We must have done hundreds of them for many different stations and DJ/s. I will never forget the day we had to sing "Dick Bright in the morning" and we all fell out on the first pass and no one could sing for about 10 minutes until we composed ourselves. Everyone chimed in with some clever interpretation of it. Hilarious! Even strict Johnny fell apart laughing. I grew up in Chicago so I had a lot of practice as a kid singing Double U-L-S. Who knew that as an adult I'd be singing jingles for a living with Johnny Mann. The other amazing singers of the core of his singers, from soprano (me) down to the lower parts, was Linda Harmon, Melissa Mackay, Don Shelton, Randy Crenshaw, and Bob Joyce. Precision singing at its best and a cappella to boot! I sang thousands of recordings in movies, commercials, records, TV shows, but these Johnny Mann jingles and especially for me, the KRTH 1-0-1 always puts a smile on my face and warms my heart. Too bad jingles are not in vogue anymore but we'll be happy to personalize and sing your message device's outgoing announcement!

ChipO said...

Thank you Darlene for the color commentary!
ahem, Ken, you did say you are going to pod.
Doesn't a good podcast need an intro?

JR Smith said...

I grew up with..."77 Musicradio WABC!"

VP81955 said...

Brings back memories of central New York's Bill Drake-style Top 40 station, circa 1969 -- W-O-L-F...Syr-a-cuse!"

Anonymous said...

John Records Landecker
Records truly is my middle name.

Andy Rose said...

Jam Creative, the Dallas company that has probably made more radio jingles than anyone else in the world, put together a neat video on all the work that went into creating just one of them.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmINAhMud4c

James said...

A little bit of heaven
94.7
KMET------
tweedle-dee

J Lee said...

Semi-related to this, I saw a post a few days ago on the New York Radio Message Board that WCBS-FM is updating its jingle package, to one created originally for WJMK in Chicago be ReelWorld Jingles. They're getting away from the JAM jingle packages that were based on the original PAM jingles done in the early 60s for KLIF in Dallas and then for 77-WABC.(WCBS-FM already had moved on from their old-old oldies jingles a while ago, so I suppose the new ones would be third generation jingles, where the second generation dropped the 'W' and just IDed the station as 'CBS-FM').

Max Clarke said...

Good to see professionals make the difficult look like a breeze.
If I'd tried to do that, by the 20th repetition, I'd be singing, "99 bottles of beer on the wall...."

But there is something about the way a song makes you remember something.
There was an episode of Cheers when Sam and Coach attended a class in geography to they could get the final credits for their high school diplomas.

When Sam could not remember places on the map the night before the final, Coach had him learn a song about the places on earth. Decades later, I remember Coach singing, "Albania, Albania, lies on the Adriatic...and their chief export is Chrome."



Steven Marshall said...

When I was program director of long gone KNX/FM in Los Angeles in the 70s, we had the opportunity to develop a unique approach to jingles. We would come up with two or three song-length jingles, then slice them up into smaller bites and assign them different day parts. We did some of our best work with Tuesday Productions down in San Diego.

Greg Ehrbar said...

There's a book about such jingle companies like PAMS called -- get this -- "The Jingle Book." My copy has a neat CD inside. Amazon seems to be offering the Kindle for free.
https://www.amazon.com/Jingle-Book-Books-ebook/dp/B003VPX27O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483646704&sr=8-1&keywords=the+jingles+book+ken+r

Johnny Mann also was the musical director for THE ALVIN SHOW. The theme was brilliant and very jingle=y.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SdMTK1Brr8

He also wrote a Christmas song that the Chipmunks recorded called "Hang Up your Stockin'."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIxa3k1yXjU

Johnny Walker said...

Ken! Have you seen this? It's kind of mind blowing. I guess a radio geek would love it:

http://radio.garden

Don't forget to check out the History section.

Wayne Thorne said...

Johnny Mann jingles will forever be in my DNA!
W......RKOOOOO.......BOSTONNNNNN

Wayne Thorne said...

Johnny Mann jingles will forever be in my DNA!
W......RKOOOOO.......BOSTONNNNNN

Pat Reeder said...

This is right in my wheel house. I was the record librarian and music and production coordinator for TM Productions in Dallas when I met my wife, Laura, there. She had grown up in the jingle business because her dad, Bill Ainsworth, was not only a great big band musician and arranger, he was also a singer and the jingle session leader for classic radio jingles out of Dallas, cut at PAMS, CRC and TM. Dallas was a major center for jingles and production music, and those jingle singers were like aunts and uncles to Laura. She can listen to one of those sessions now and recognize each individual voice, despite how well they blend.

Jingle singing is a very exacting art. Laura is a great singer with perfect pitch, and she has two critically-acclaimed albums to her credit, but she never sang professionally until after her dad died. He was such a perfectionist about vocals, I think she felt intimidated by him.

If this subject interests you, here is a page from PAMS about the history of radio jingles (they were pioneers in the field): http://www.pams.com/history2.html

And here are some pictures of PAMS recording sessions (Laura's dad is in some of them, along with more of the legendary jingle singers from the Dallas market): http://www.pams.com/photos1.html


JoeyH said...

Thanks for this, Ken. And thanks, Darlene for the response. I did not know that Chris Kershaw was Clayton's father. It was fun to watch the great Johnny Mann singers at work. I have been to a couple of Dallas sessions. It's fascinating how each production house pretty much has their own signature sound.

Stuart Raish said...

My favorite..The KNX-FM jingles of the 70s. Told a story in each one.

Doug Thompson said...

I worked with Chris Kershaw on many, many station and client jingles during much of the 1970's at PAMS and later TM, then JAM. He was a great singer and writer. Jon Wolfert, who engineered all of my stuff through all those companies and all those years is the greatest jingle guy of all time, but you already know that Ken being a friend of his.

As for Johnny Mann, my favourites, besides KHJ and KRTH were'K-F-R-CCCCCCCCC, San Francisco', 'The Big 8, C-K-L-WWWWWW' and'10-50 CHUM, Toronto'. All classic Johnny Mann jingles. Being the CHUM Archivist (I worked there 13 years in total 4 different times), I have the master tapes to the Johnn Mann session in 1970. They did jock jingles and one of them was for Roger Ashby (who's still very successfully on the air, though at CHUM FM now). After they finished his jingle, Johnny came up with the idea to do a joke version...so that great harmony sang "Kiss Your Ashby...10-50 CHUM". He never played it on the air though.

Dave Mason said...

Ken Deutsch in his "Jingle Book" pointed out a story he heard from Johnny Mann. There was a musicians strike in LA in 1965 which coincided with the launch of KHJ. Johnny had suggested a capellas instead. Old airchecks of KHJ and other Drake stations offered a decidedly different use of these jingles, but at K-Earth for awhile we went back to using them out of stopsets rather than the produced liners. .and it worked. After 7 minute stopsets the listener would go to sleep mentally. The jingles brought them (and the station) back to life! You can say they're outdated jingles- and maybe they are. But they still do the best job ever of branding a station.

Tracy Carman said...

As I always tell people, this stuff is music to my ears. The original Drake Series 1 jingles backing tracks were produced at Western Recorders on April 24, 1969 with The Wrecking Crew playing the instruments. "The Motown Package" was recorded in Hitsville Studios on April 13, 1971. It's an era that has sadly come and gone.

Ken: Thanks for the memories! Thankfully a good amount of those original materials and master reels live here!