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The 1912 London International Radiotelegraphic Convention refined an idea adopted at the the 1906 Berlin International Wireless Telegraph Convention where it was agreed that coastal and ship stations were to have unique call signs formed from a group of three letters by assigning each country its own range of “call letters” to identify its broadcast stations.

When the commercial and entertainment possibilities of radio began to be explored (America’s first commercial radio station signed on in 1920, and by 1923 there were over 500 licensed stations) it was clear that there was going to be a need for more call letter combinations, so the government switched to granting call signs with four letters rather than three.

The broadcasting industry grew rapidly - the 1930s and ‘40s saw radio as a prime source of family entertainment. Networks spanned America and allowed the entire country to share in the great events, news, and entertainment of the day. To make this a profitable endeavour, commercial time was sold to advertisers and sponsors. Before long, messages and songs about everything from cereals to soaps, and soft drinks to cigars filled the airwaves. The catchy musical messages became known as “jingles”. The same singers and musicians who were featured on the entertainment shows usually also performed jingles for the sponsors.

Although most of the effort was devoted to singing the virtues of products, a few stations began airing jingles to promote themselves. This became increasingly important as more and more stations took to the air, and the jumble of call letters that a listener was exposed to began to rise.

The value of a station’s commercial time was (and is) gauged by its audience ratings and in order for the ratings to be high, listeners must know and remember which station they heard so they can report it accurately in a survey. The memorable jingles helped listeners recall which station they had listened to. Jingles also added more production value to a station’s sound, enabled them to bridge awkward transitions and fill time if a programme ended too early.

The hub of the jingle industry was Dallas, Texas and a company called PAMS -  thanks to Bill Meeks - a staff musician (saxophone player) at KLIF Dallas.

In addition  Bill also sold commercial time to the shows’ sponsors and he participated in creating commercials and jingles for those sponsors, as well as making musical identifications for the station itself.

They got a favourable reaction, and KLIF did well. After a while, some of Bill’s clients urged him to devote more time to working on their advertising needs. So in 1951 Bill Meeks formed his own advertising agency - PAMS, (Production Advertising Merchandising Service). Initially, the company created and placed radio spots for local accounts. This ad agency experience strengthened Bill’s belief that most listeners at the time didn’t really know which station they were listening to. He noted that some stations with supposedly low ratings generated good response for advertisers, while many highly rated stations did not. Drawing on his experience at KLIF, Bill decided that many radio stations could benefit from having musical IDs of their own.

PAMS designed a group of ten jingles, and called the package simply "Series 1". A more elaborate "Series 2" followed shortly after. The idea was that stations would hear a demonstration tape of the jingles, and re-write the lyrics to suit their own requirements. PAMS would then assemble the vocal group in a studio and re-sing the jingles using the new lyrics, over the already-existing instrumental backgrounds.

Although PAMS produced hundreds of musical jingles for commercial sponsors and advertising agencies, station identification jingles quickly became the firm’s specialty. What began as a decision in 1906 to issue unique call signs to stations, eventually grew into a multi-million dollar industry devoted to setting those call signs to music.

Jingles and Station IDs

and station IDs

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Listen to these PAMS jingles - many will sound very familiar because the offshore stations often adapted and edited them from PAMS demo tapes for their own use.

Series 18 - Sonosational 1961

This was the first jingle package to utilize the Sonovox, a device which can make any sound source seem to be speaking or singing. It was a PAMS exclusive.

Series 22 - Sonomagic 1962

  Designed as a follow-up to Series 18, this package also made heavy use of the Sonovox.

Bill Meeks

Photo: PAMS

Radio Jingles  and PAMS - HISTORY

Trella Hart

One of the most unique and memorable solo voices to ever appear on PAMS jingles belongs to singer Trella Hart.

She was featured on "Swiszle" (Series 32) in 1966, "Fun Vibrations" (Series 33) in 1967, and a number of custom packages too.

Photo: PAMS

Thanks to PAMS and Jam Creative Productions for information used in this feature

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and station IDs

Jingles and Station IDs

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