There was a time when virtually all radio programmes and DJs had their own sig tune. Nowadays you’ll mainly hear them on Radio 4, everyone knows the sig tunes for The Archers and Desert Island Discs even if they don’t listen to the programmes.
A sig tune could’ve been a hit record from the time – Gary Davies with ABC’s The Look of Love, David Hamilton with Listen to the Music by the Doobie Brothers – or it could just be a piece of library music chosen by the show’s producer – Town Talk for Jimmy Young or Number One for Saturday’s Sport on 2. Back in the 50s and 60s every comedy show had it’s own specially composed theme, think of Wally Stott’s for Hancock’s Half Hour or Bill Oddie’s Angus Prune Tune for I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again.
In the current Radio 1 and 2 schedules there are only a handful of programmes with opening themes that spring to mind. On Radio 2 Pick of the Pops, Sounds of the 60s, David Jacobs, Steve Wright and Friday Night is Bath Night (as Ray Moore used to call it). On Radio 1 perhaps only the Cheesy Song qualifies.
Here’s a short montage of well known themes used on Radios 1 and 2, no introductions necessary I hope.
Back in 1980 there was a seven-part Radio 4 series on signature tunes called Signing On, written and presented by David Rider. David started with the BBC in the 60s and was in at the start of Radio 1; he appears in the famous DJ line-up photo on the steps of All Souls Church in Langham Place. He went on to present Radio 1’s Playground in the 80s and then devised the Radio 2 radio nostalgia panel game On the Air. Here’s the second episode which focuses on news themes.