Jingles Are Like Potatoes!


(By Gary Berkowitz) Can you imagine a steak without the potatoes? Or getting a new outfit without shoes that match? Well, I can’t and that’s why a radio station without jingles is like a steak without potatoes.

Let’s start by saying that not every radio station needs jingles, but they sure can
make a difference on many formats. So, before this article starts here are a few

  1. I love jingles and strongly encourage their use.
  2. At the same time, I acknowledge that they can be a touchy subject.
  3. The two camps are the lovers and the haters (who think they are old and
    not necessary). I respect that.

So, with that in mind, here are some of the many benefits of using jingles:

They make you sound big. They give you that feel of “show-biz” and enhance
your entire sound.

Jingles give you a unique sound signature. It adds to your imaging arsenal and
goes beyond a voice and sometimes dated “Star Wars” sounding zaps (which are
really dated).

They “differentiate” you. You will stand out from your competition. Especially if
you have good jingles that have a memorable logo and strong vocal. Can you
imagine the exec’s at NBC talking about getting rid of their iconic three note logo? I
don’t think so. I would be surprised if you could find anyone who would not know
what those three notes meant.

Jingles and their creative use on the air can make a big difference in how
your talent sound. Yes, jingles prop up air talent.

Jingles cut through in locations where listening levels are low. Think about
being in a retail location who is playing the radio at a low level. You’re enjoying the
music, but don’t know where its coming from until that jingle comes on and then
you know.

Most important, they make you more memorable. Radio is all about recall,
especially in diary markets. If you’re a PPM market, the best way to get listeners
back day after day (daily cume) is to make the station exciting and again,
memorable. I’ve sat in dozens of focus groups over the years where listeners
actually sing the stations jingles back to us. Now that’s recall, and radio people
know, nothing is more important than recall.

Yes, there are a few different camps out there on jingles. Some think they sound
old. I disagree. I feel they add vibrancy and excitement to a radio station’s

So, think of jingles like you do potatoes. You would never order that steak without
the potatoes so how can you have a radio station without the jingles? They are not
the main meal, but they sure make the whole dining experience better.

Gary Berkowitz specializes in ratings improvement for AC and Classic Hits radio stations: Gary can be reached at (248) 737-3727 or [email protected]www.garyberk.com 


  1. I remember having a listener party and hearing people sing my radio station’s jingle. That’s memorable branding! Who wouldn’t want people having their radio station be top-of-mind?

  2. This article nails it! Jingles are a brilliant way to ingrain your product’s name into the mind of the public (whether they realize it or not). In the case of radio, I remember fishing around on the AM dial at night as a kid and suddenly hearing the WABC (ding!) jingle absolutely pop out of the static. No matter where you were in the eastern half of the US back then, you knew that jingle. Bill Drake called them “logos” not “jingles” and used them as such. Again, even 50 years later, they were unforgettable.

    This also works for the advertising of products. Agencies used to come up with very snappy (yet easily understood) jingles for clients. And they stuck. Now, we get some 19 year old girl with strep throat doing a read and trying to sound “cool” yet “ironic”. It’s garbage. So, I hope the powers that be will consider what’s being said here. They could learn a lot from what has worked before.

  3. Gary is right…

    I would only add two things:

    How many times have you listened to an aircheck, heard the jingles, and thought, “…what the heck are they saying??” Or, when you’re travelling out of town and checking out the car radio. (the Wayfair jingle on TV hits me that way: “Wayfair the something da da some such” – HUH?) Why spend a chunk of your promotional budget on musical features if they are not clear enough for your listeners to understand them?

    To get around this I used to ask the recording engineer to play back each take on the tinny, small cue speaker in the studio. Later, I would ask normal, non-radio people from out of the market to listen to a few over the phone. Do they get it? (remember, listeners thought the Sandpipers were singing, “Once in a meadow” not, “Guantanamera.” Go figure.

    And, second – think of how many jingles and songs you can’t get out of your head! For years. No, for longer than that!

    When Rick Sklar told me the WABC jingle logo was based on the Richard Roger’s melody, “I’ll take Manhattan;”– “seventy-seven, WABC” I was surprised. Until then, I thought it was the other-way round, Rogers and Hart lifting the ABC jingle logo. Now, THAT is persuasion.


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