If It’s Broke, Fix It

If you’re a seasoned anorak, like me, there was always a little bit of excitement around the first Monday following New Year’s Day. Because traditionally, that’s when radio stations would roll out their new jingle packages. Of course, that was in the days before the interweb – and unless you knew somebody at the radio station, you’d have to guess whether new jingles were on the way, Memorex cassette in place, and finger on the pause button at 6am.

That was also in the era when Radio 2 last significantly changed its jingle package. And the fact that the station has today ditched the distinctive seven note logo for a new one has divided opinion among the people sad enough to care about such things. Including me.

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Jingles are all about the image your station portrays. In these days of austerity, the age of the full sung jingle is largely gone. But not at Radio 2. And the fact that its old “sonic logo” survived for almost twenty years is testament to how strong it was. The classic top of the hour news cut told you – in no uncertain terms – which station you were listening to.

The new one? Well, have a listen for yourself – and it sounds a bit like one of those adverts that rips off a well known song and alters the positioning of a couple of notes to avoid a copyright suit. Which could be closer to the truth in this case.

A couple of years ago, the BBC launched a tender for a new set of jingles for Radio 2. Production companies had the choice of sticking with the existing tune and coming up with one of their own. And the winner was Grooveworx which produced a pretty good “refresh” of the well known logo. However, the BBC wanted to retain the exclusive publishing rights for the package, which meant that Grooveworx wouldn’t have been able to sell it to other stations – a common practice for just about every production company going.

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Eventually a compromise was reached. Grooveworx and the BBC did a deal to allow the existing tune to be used in a “refresher” package – in other words, re-recordings of the demo already submitted. I’m not privy to the details, but it’s likely that the arrangement had a termination clause, which probably brings us to where we are today. A new package from Wise Buddah.

For most listeners, the change may raise the odd eyebrow. The anoraks will argue about ditching a distinctive tune which has served so well for so long. But in this instance, it may have been a case of a forced error rather than strategic move.

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