Remember the little ones.

Most of us, when we think of a sound archive, probably think of recordings of poets reading their own work, or of a collection of great speeches, or of oral history, or perhaps of dialect surveys: at any rate of a body of substantial material. But brief and apparently ephemeral material may also re-create the past for us and should never be overlooked. I am very happy to report therefore that some people have thought to preserve the jingles used by LBC radio in the past. The preservers include the station itself and some freelance enthusiasts. Anyone who listened to LBC in the 1970s and 1980s (perhaps, like me, you listened clandestinely to the late-night talk show under the bedclothes) will remember in particular the three-note theme in a minor key composed by Jeff Wayne, which was sometimes played bare (the precise key used varied, as did the scoring) and sometimes elaborated in one of several ways. Jingles such as these preserve the “voice” of the past as surely as any dialect survey. Radio style has moved on since then; the repositories of these jingles certainly constitute an archive. All credit, then, to those who have collected them, and who, by putting them online, have allowed us all to retrieve them and catch, however fleetingly, a flavour of their times.

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