The first word in jingles
15 Aug 2001 5 comments. tbs.pm/3176
Until 1951 any jingles that were heard on a radio station in the United States of America had been produced locally. An example of this was KLIF, a station that went live in 1947. The station had its own staff singers, which might seem strange now, but it was fairly common practice back then.
The station’s music director, Bill Meeks collaborated with the singers to produce the station’s first on-air jingle package. In 1951 Bill Meeks left KLIF and founded a company called PAMS, which promoted itself as a commercial music production house and advertising agency whose initials originally stood for Production, Advertising, Marketing and Sales, the four areas that Bill felt clients needed help in. In later years, the S was changed to mean Service.
The company was based in Dallas, Texas. But this was not by accident, rather, it was by the design of a gentleman called Bill Harris, who was the local director of the American Foundation of Musicians. He pushed for musicians to be paid transcription rates rather than the much higher national advertising rates. Had this not happened in 1951, its quite possible that PAMS might have been based in New York or Los Angeles and as such it might have meant that radio stations today would be traveling to those locations rather than Dallas for their jingles.
Soon after, PAMS sold the very first syndicated package of jingles to KDNT in Denton, Texas. This was to become known as the Series 1 package. The package was basically a collection of pre-recorded backing tracks, an economical and flexible way of producing station ID’s. However the package had no consistent logo melody. The package was produced specifically for the station, therefore it was not a custom package, but a syndicated package.
In 1955, PAMS started to face some serious competition in the sector with the formation of Commercial Recording Corp., and three former PAMS employees got together in 1958 to form Futuresonic, but despite the competition from these and many other companies including Music Makers, Jingle Mill and Pepper Sound, PAMS became known as the world’s most creative and dominant supplier of radio jingles.
In all, PAMS created 49 numbered packages with numerous variants, many named packages for clients across the world. Among the stations that used PAMS jingles were
- BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2
- WABC in New York
- and many others including pirate station Radio London.
Some of the more well known backing tracks include Series 15, originally produced for WABC in New York, but never actually used by the station and Series 18, the package that introduce the electronic voice of “Sonovox” to the world of radio jingles. PAMS also produced a series of jingles based on the hits of The Beatles at a time when Beatlemania was sweeping across all 50 states of the US.
In the late 1970’s, PAMS ceased trading because of financial problems, but the company never went into bankruptcy, nor was it dissolved. For over 10 years the future of the company and the jingles themselves were left hanging on legal threads.
Then in 1990 another former PAMS employee, Jonathan Wolfert, who had left PAMS in 1971 to form his own company, JAM Creative Productions, bought the shares of the company.
You might think that the story ends here, but you’d be wrong. Because in the years since the company became inactive, several other companies, including the Creative Productions Marketing Group (CPMG), had started offering re-sings of the PAMS packages. It meant extensive legal research had to be carried out to determine who held the valid copyright to the PAMS material. It was eventually determined that the original PAMS corporation, that had been bought by Jonathan Wolfert, still owned the jingles. PAMS had to resort to legal proceedings to resolve all the conflicting claims.
A settlement was reached in February 1997 and since then, JAM have sold re-sings of the classic jingles out of Dallas, Texas, whilst a company called KenR offer re-sings out of Toledo, Ohio.
Editor’s note: since publication, we have corrected several typos (“re-signs” instead of “re-sings”) as brought to our attention in the comments.
2001 marked the 50th anniversary of a company which in its own way, revolutionised radio worldwide.