TM PRODUCTIONS' JIM LONG
By Ken Deutsch

Jim Long, one of the co-founders (along with Tom Merriman) of the legendary TM Productions, passed away on May 30, 2022. He was 79.

In remembrance of this incredible friend of broadcasting, we're sharing this chapter about Long from Ken Deutsch's Second Jingle Book.


Long On Jingles

What an explosive year 1969 was.

In April the 5th Dimension released a song that spoke for the young generation, "Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In." On July 20 we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. The youth movement broke loose Aug. 15-17 as a half million people gathered at Max Yasgur's farm near White Lake, N.Y., for a celebration called Woodstock.

It was while these events were unfolding that musical arranger Tom Merriman joined businessman Jim Long to form TM Productions in Dallas. In the 1970s, TM would become a powerhouse in jingles, music libraries, automated formats and radio specials.

Long had worked with music libraries and jingles as a program director in his radio days prior to joining Merriman. He had purchased jingles from CRC and Gwinsound, both in Dallas, and gained experience with production libraries created by New York producer Mark Century and from CRC, Merriman's former enterprise. Also in Long's production arsenal was the "Capitol Cue Library," produced by Capitol Records in Los Angeles.

"I met Tom Merriman when he was a freelance arranger and I was writing lyrics for Gwinsound," Long said. "Merriman's the guy who gave me my first real opportunity outside of broadcasting. He got me a job as executive producer at CRC so that we could work on a project together.

"The first ID package we worked on was Series 47, 'Ratings Grabber.' Man, we borrowed heavily from Chuck Blore, who was a creative guru and occasional jingle producer. But we tried some different techniques with brass and vocal sounds."

While this was going on, Long and Merriman talked. CRC was headed into shaky financial territory. Long had been formulating ideas for production libraries and ID packages since working in radio. Within a year of their collaboration, the men decided to create a new company and call it TM Productions. Jim Long was a "radio name." His real name was Tim Moynihan, so he and Merriman had the same initials.

"We started off by creating radio ID jingles so we could get some cash flow," Long said. "It was tough for the first couple of years. We never had a lot of funds to build the company. "Luckily, Tom also had a salaried position as music director at a private school in Dallas. At first, TM consisted of just Tom, myself and a woman named Joyce Kilmer. All of us were from CRC, and all we had at the start was smoke and mirrors."

Talk about humble origins. This small crew operated out of the back of an auto body shop on Dyer Street near the old Summit Sound, which backed up to a fertilizer plant. The same building had housed Futursonic and CRC.

"It wasn't pretty, but we rebuilt the studios and it worked for us," said Long.

The distinctive and almost medieval TM logo that appeared on early tape boxes was inspired by ... a hot dog. "It came from the menu of a kosher deli called Phil's in Dallas," said Long. "I liked the interesting type font they had for their Wisner Kosher Hot Dogs, so we used it."

Long took his budding company into syndication of automated formats, supplied to radio stations on 10-inch reels. This move helped solidify his new firm.

"IDs were not a terrific business at that time," Long said. "A lot of stations were just buying shotgun jingles. We were selling ID packages for the same money ($2,500-$3,500) as when I had been a PD. Talent and production expenses were increasing, but profits were getting smaller. That's how libraries and automated programming became the core of our business."

At this point, others had already entered the field of music formats, including Stereo Radio Productions, but Long was able to make a deal to distribute the programming of beautiful-music station WDOK(FM), Cleveland.

"The problem was that their tapes wouldn't duplicate because the tones weren't put on them properly, so we had to rebuild the whole library in a hurry," he said. "And we had all these stations signed up."

Within several years, TM released two successful production libraries on vinyl, "The Producer" and "Masterplan." Others would follow.

"We would produce these demos and pre-sell whatever we were doing; and if we got enough contracts we knew we were onto something," he said. "Then we constantly tested with our clients to see what they wanted most."

TM's willingness to test-market its products paid off. During the 1970s the staff grew to more than 50.

Political intrigue

While the jingles were percolating, much corporate maneuvering was taking place. TM was bought and sold. Promises were broken. Plans were dashed.

"Starr Broadcasting owned TM at the time," Long said. "They promised to sell the company back to us and reneged on the deal. We had plans to become one of the first syndication companies to use satellite to distribute the formats back in 1978 and 1979. That was kind of the end of TM for me, frankly."

Long had a contract to be president for five years, and lasted less than three months.

"The company had been entrepreneurial, and they wanted to impose a lot of rules on us," he said. "They were also pretty highly leveraged and didn't want to invest the money to take us from a production company to a media company."

Long left and started FirstCom in 1980. A number of key people followed him from TM.

"We brought in sales people and also a brilliant producer-operations guy named Ken Justiss, a rock you could build a church on," he said. "We produced some IDs but focused on a commercial library called 'The Creative Department.' By the mid-1980s we were heavily involved with music for TV shows and motion pictures. I'm still in that business today."

FirstCom produced the first CD production library in 1984 and continued to sell to radio and TV stations, as well as TV and film producers. Long sold FirstCom in 1991 to Zomba-Jive Records, and that company has been sold again. FirstCom still distributes music produced by Long's company, OneMusic.

Jim Long had the vision to see himself as a broadcast supplier rather than simply a maker of jingles.

"I found that just producing pure IDs was not profitable. Ten years after I bought jingles for the stations I programmed in medium markets, we were still selling them at TM for the same price. The math just doesn't work," he said.

Long was a bottom-line manager, but he was respected by his employees.

"TM paid everybody what they were supposed to get, when they were supposed to get it," he said. "There is a perception within a small community of talented people that if you have problems in that area, you take the gloss off your company."

In the 1960s and 1970s there was little royalty income made on jingles and libraries. In fact, it came as a big surprise when Tom Merriman received a series of royalty checks from the Mutual Broadcasting Network for some themes he had written. Merriman split the money with Long.

"When you licensed product exclusively in North America, you couldn't collect royalties," Long said. "As soon as we got past the non-exclusive barrier we started to make it work."

Now that audio-watermarking technology is available, companies like OneMusic are able to realize more "back-end" profit from library music. Watermarking is a technical trick that allows the producer of a CD to embed coded information into the music to identify the composer and provide other copyright information.

Thanks, Tom

Long never imagined that TM would grow as big as it did. "It was a great time and I stay in touch with many of my former associates," he said. "I owe everything to Tom Merriman. He gave me a shot and then let me alone."

Merriman was also "instrumental" in the careers of other Dallas talent.

"He was generous with a lot of writers, people who now have big careers," Long said. "For example, Tom insisted we hire a high school kid named Chris Kershaw as a gopher one summer. Chris was the worst gopher I have ever seen. But Tom saw the potential there, and he was right."

Kershaw went on to a huge career in the Dallas jingle industry, working for PAMS, TM, Tanner, Sundance, Gwinsound, JAM Creative Productions and many others. He also had his own companies: Music-K Productions and Kershaw-West, the latter in partnership with Jim West.

While some of the most important people in the Dallas jingle scene were writers and musicians, Jim Long was successful and gained respect as a top manager and strategist. He saw trends before others and never let his personal tastes interfere with what he knew would work in the marketplace.

"It's all good if it sells," he said.

For more great reading about the radio jingle industry, check our Ken Deutsch's two jingle books, part of JingleSampler.com's Big Book Bonanza.


TM Studios posted this on their Facebook page on June 1, 2022.

Itís with profound sadness that we announce the passing of another icon in TMís 55 Year history - Jim Long (aka Timothy Moynihan, aka the other TM of TM Studios). He was best known for his eagle eye in spotting a gap in the market, which led to TM quickly becoming a leader in jingles, music libraries, and programming for radio stations around the world. Jim invented the shotgun and the image song and revolutionized how jingles worked on air.

Jim was always proud to be at the cutting edge of the radio industry, and everyone claimed he had the "Midas touch." Jim went on to launch Firstcom Music and had many other successful ventures after his days at TM.

To this day, Jimís vision, passion, and business acumen is shared through the halls of TM and by the current TM Studios ownership.

TMís Dave Bethell spoke to Jim this past Friday, and his passion and love for TM appeared as fresh as it was the day Jim and partner Tom Merriman opened the doors.

At this difficult time, we send our heartfelt condolences to Jimís family and friends and to those who knew him or worked with him over the years.

Jim Long on Wikipedia

For more information on TM jingles, go to the TM Studios Website.
Contact the Curator