Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
The "Hello News" jingle personalized local TV news for a generation of watchers.
If you watched television in the 1980s, there's a good chance your city had a booster ad that looked and sounded a lot like this:
What you may not know is that your local pride television spot was a nationally syndicated jingle called "Hello News." That ad -- or something almost identical, with a handful of local references dropped in -- ran in over 100 markets around the world. Its legacy has continued into the internet age with media forums and YouTube commenters showering praise on it, making it one of the most popular local television campaigns ever made.
"It was the first image campaign where the camera was turned around to the people of the community instead of the newscast screen," says Frank Gari, creator of the campaign and owner of the Beverly Hills-based Gari Media Group.
The ads got their start as a single project for the ABC affiliate in Milwaukee. They turned out so well that other cities wanted their own. "It caught on like wildfire," Gari says.
The spot was modified from city to city and, in time, different versions emerged. Some were upbeat, others more somber. Some affiliates brought in local celebrities for their versions. KUTV famously brought in the Osmonds to do "Hello Utah," a move that has inspired covers and parodies since.
In 2011, someone in Portland made one for fun since the city didn’t have a ‘Hello’ spot. That same year, a punk band in Louisiana covered "Hello, Acadiana":
Perhaps no city was as devoted as Calgary. The local channels had split with the CBC prior to the campaign, and they used 'Hello' to emphasize their new identity. They created a bevy of different versions for different circumstances. They had billboards with 'Hello', according to Gari. "They had a live band at the airport playing it and gave out cowboy hats that said 'Hello, Calgary,'" he says. "They even had an orchestra and dancers performing it in front of 50,000 at the Calgary Stampede."
Here's a spot made to welcome the NHL’s Flames to their new home after moving from Atlanta:
And a Channel 2 and 7 video for potential advertisers used "Hello, Calgary" spots throughout. Testimonials for the jingle's greatness are included.
In 2004, the network put together a collection of "Hello" spots to celebrate its history:
While 'Hello' is still used in some areas 30 years later, most have, by now, retired the retro spot. But Gari's company is rolling out a similar concept titled "This is Home," containing a lot of the same ethos. Like the America of the early '80s, he says, the country could use a pick-me-up. "Americans yearn for civic pride," he says. "They still want something that makes them feel good about their community."