By Ron Harris

Here's a little background on me and on the Potpourri jingle samplers (below).

I started collecting jingles in high school. I lived in West Caldwell, NJ, and began my collection with tapes from WVNJ, WNEW, and WABC. A cold call to Julian Breen resulted in a reel from WABC containing Series 34C and Series 37. PAMS was kind enough to send me the demos for Series 28, 34AB, and 36, and I was on my way!

During my senior year of high school, I met a substitute teacher named Howard Trombley. He casually mentioned one day that Dan Ingram was his nephew, and that was enough to get me up on the 7th floor at WABC Radio, meeting Dan and watching his show in 7A. It would be the first of many visits, and Dan and I still trade Christmas cards each year.

I put together my first jingle sampler in 1970 at my college radio station, WCPR, at Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken. By then, I had made the acquaintance of Jon Wolfert (who was then at WNTC at Clarkson Tech in Potsdam, NY), a friendship that lasts to this day. That first jingle compendium was called, well, "Sampler 1," followed rapidly by "Squish".

The next year, I proceeded to flunk out of Stevens ("Classes? Who needs classes when there's a college radio station to live at?!"), and transferred to Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, IL, just east of St. Louis, MO (the home of legendary stations like KXOK, KBOX and WIL).

That was the birthplace of Potpourri 1, in early 1972. I decided to try an experiment: using SIUE's radio station automation system to build a jingle sampler.

WSIE's automation was typical of the early 70s: 14"-reel Scully tape decks, several cart machines, and a cart carousel. The programming for the playback was done by a series of thumbwheels, one for each event (specifying the source). Each time I would add a cut, I'd have to totally redo the thumbwheels, a real pain!

I selected the cuts, and dubbed every other one (A/B/A/B, etc.) onto two 10.5 minute carts. I had originally put secondary trip tones on each cut at the desired segue point. One or two turned out to be too early or late, so on playback I had to manually "un-engage" the automation, trigger the next cut when I wanted it, skip that trigger thumbwheel, and re-engage the automation!

The opening was a Series 22 jingle, with a sonovox overlay done by Ken Justiss when I visited him at his college apartment in Bloomington, IN.

I decided to have some fun at the start, so I got a news reader at WSIE to just talk off-the-cuff about jingles, which turned into a brief rant about them being "nonsensical," which he had trouble pronouncing (I left in his flub!). The novelty wore off quickly, and I moved on just playing the jingles.

I included some outtakes and comedy cuts, like the Westgate Dodge spot (NSFW!) and the Series 33 demo edits (done by, if I remember correctly, "K&H Productions," and also NSFW!).

There was a PAMS track, to which I added a drop-in voice from my WCPR shows, and a cut that Jon Wolfert had created for another college station, and one he had done at TM for his college station, WNTC, where Jon had TM sing "The most music" in a PAMS WABC style (and which I led into with a Schickhaus bologna radio spot excerpt following a Pepper-Tanner jingle ("After that, I'd like to hear the jingle YOU wrote!" "Really, Pop? Sure!").

I also put in a TM "Image 73" WNBC singalong cut ("This is the station…"). The original version of my sampler had the full cut followed by its full track. Years later, I removed the track, but made a one-word "omission edit" as my comment on the corniness of the jingle!

Also in the oddity department, I added an EBS Test produced by WLOF, a WKYC cut (possibly the dumbest sports jingle ever produced), and a clip from the PAMS Series 42 demo (the one without a Cut 25).

The ending is a Sears commercial featuring Trella Hart, with a now-meaningless voiceover by another WSIE announcer.

As I checked out the sequencing, I decided to insert a few more cuts in specific places, and skip one or two on the original carts, so I had a half-dozen or so individual cuts on carts, and had to adjust each of the thumbwheels appropriately (a tedious task).

Playback was from the two main ATC cart decks, with the individual add-in cuts running on carts in the Gates carousel. I sat in the main control room down the hall, remotely manually tweaking a few segues (turning the automation on or off, with manual advances), and recording on reel-to-reel tape at 7 ½ ips (we didn't have any 15ips machines). The result, Potpourri 1, went out to, I believe, nine people.

Shortly afterward, in May, 1972, I made my first pilgrimage to PAMS in Dallas. With the help of Mr. Wolfert, and despite one terrifying midnight cockroach encounter, I returned with 14 7" reels and one 5" reel, filled with WABC and KXOK/WIL/KIRL jingles.

Potpourri 2 was again automation system-based, and would probably have been done in June, 1972. It too was sent out to less than a dozen collectors. The original opening included a Series 17 generic cut, "Curtain's going up on..." with Jim Clancy saying "Ron Harris, visiting PAMS."

Potpourri 2 almost exclusively featured jingles from the PAMS reels I'd dubbed. The first half was all WABC, then the St. Louis stations.

By August, the every-other-cut cart novelty was wearing off, and I splurged on two reel-to-reel decks, a Teac A-1230 and an Akai GX-220D. Future samplers (Potpourri 3, 3 1/2, and 4) were made on those decks.

In 1973, I graduated SIUE and went to KGMO, Cape Girardeau, MO, doing evenings and shortly thereafter, afternoon drive. I also became Production Director.

In April, 1975, I left Cape Girardeau and went to work with Ken Justiss at TM Productions in Dallas, making me the third collector to work for one of the major jingle companies. I produced demos, wrote commercial copy, mixed jingle packages, etc., for three and a half years.

In October, 1978, I moved to Los Angeles, doing freelance engineering and production (radio specials, national radio spots for Warner Bros. Records, music demos, etc.) and in 1981 went to work for the Westwood One Radio Networks, producing shows, specials and spots. I continued doing all that, and ended up also programming and running the PBX phone system and doing network admin, as Senior Director of Technical Operations (Chief Engineer).

Westwood One was bought in 2011, and the new management laid off 98% of us, so in February, 2012, I retired after 31 years there.

And I still love jingles!

Potpourri 1

Potpourri 2

For more information on PAMS jingles, go to the PAMS Website.
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