Two Important Reasons
Anywhere you go, there are lots of radio signals in the air for listeners to choose from. Every station wants to be the best. But no matter how good your station sounds, you won't get the ratings you deserve unless the audience can distinguish you from the competition and remember your station's name and dial position. Those are major reasons to use a jingle package: identity and call letter recall.
Good jingles help create a unique identity that only your station will have. After all, every station builds its product with the same basic tools: music, information, spots, on-air personalities, contests, and so on. But jingles are one way to put an individual touch on a station's sound. The musical style and attitude of the jingles tell listeners what they can expect from the station. And many times a slogan or positioning statement is delivered most effectively in a musical context with a well-produced jingle. For example, on music stations a liner delivered by the on-air talent or voice-over person is often perceived as an interuption in the flow. But a brief musical jingle played between two songs gets your message across without stopping the music. Jingles are also frequently used underneath the announcer, so that there's music behind the voice followed by the station name sung at the end.
As for call letter recall, we know that a musical message is often more memorable than a spoken one. After all, people sing along with the songs, not the announcers. Even young children often learn the alphabet by remembering the "a-b-c" song, because melody and rhythm make the information easier to recall. Since your aim is to get the audience to remember your station's name, it makes sense to let jingles convey that information in a catchy or attention-getting musical way. Shorter jingles are useful for reinforcing a station's name and positioning statement or slogan. Longer image jingles are a great way for a station to relate to the audience, or share the pride which listeners feel for their area and its accomplishments.
With more and more markets utilizing electronic ratings technology (PPM or "People Meter") some have asked whether recall still matters. After all, the meter will supposedly know what you're listening to even if you don't. But if you want listeners to return to your spot on the dial, they still have to know who you are and where to find you. Consider this: the bottle of Coca-Cola you buy at the grocery store has a bar code on it so that the "meter" will know what's in the bottle even if you don't. But that doesn't stop Coke from putting a pretty label on their product and advertising the brand. You should do the same thing with your audio.
Added Format Benefits
Jingles are also production elements which help the overall flow of the station. Throughout every broadcast hour, they can bridge tempo changes, introduce news and traffic reports, add local identity to network programming, and bring excitement to promos and special features. And let's not forget that jingles can and should be fun! Whether it's something crazy for the morning show, or a romantic sound for late night dedications, jingles are part of the "showbiz" magic of radio. They make what you're doing more produced and special.
JAM has specialized in creating effective jingles for over four decades. We'd be happy to share what we've learned with you.