You hate to call someone a jingle-singer unless they realize you’re paying a compliment. It takes a unique style and a way with a phrase to weld a commercial jingle to the inside of someone’s brain for 30 years. But it wouldn’t be fair to say that’s Arne’s specialty. There’s radio. There’s singing. There’s getting hit on the head.
“Between the mid-’80s and ’90s I did a lot of commercials. The best known is probably the Knox lumber one, which featured me as a loudmouthed sales-pitch Crazy-Eddie guy who gets driven into the ground by a pile driver. I did a ton of those things.”
A ton of those things is probably a fair description of his career, but one stands out. “Singing is the mainstay, done virtually all my professional life in clubs, or advertising music, and part of a band, it’s always been the main thing I do.”
But there was radio, starting with a golden-oldies show on WWTC in the ’80s. “It was a seat-of-the-pants operation — consultant-free, what radio should be. There were people who had a gut for radio and a sense of what the listeners wanted. Then a tiny percent of a degree of a rating dropped, and the consultants descended.”
No more fun. But then came the KLBB jazz show and a recent run on Sirius XM satellite broadcasting. It’s what made his name around here. “Singing, you’re in one place. Radio, you’re all over the place.”
So. Rock and jazz: if you had to choose?
“Early in life I’d be listening to Beatles and Dylan, and my father would come bursting into the room shouting, ‘Turn that down!’ and argue with me in calmer moments why they weren’t going to last and I was silly for listening to them. Then I’d go to band practice and have my bandmates give me trouble about Armstrong and Crosby and the other old farts I was listening to.”
And now? He’s helping bring more Minnesota talent to the world beyond. “I’m producing records with a gal singer in NY who’s from Minnesota. Nancy Harms, she’s a jazz artist who I came across in the very early moments in her career. Now she’s singing in Paris.”
But we mentioned a certain jingle. “Everyone seems to remember one with Dale Menten, and he’s the guy who put me in doing commercials. We did one together for Embers.” All together now: Remember the Embers. “ ‘Seven days a week’ was Dale, and I was the guy who sang ‘24 hours a day.’ ”
What’s next? “The fact that I can continue working despite that I’m a senior citizen and a guy who doesn’t play a guitar, I find I’m very honored by that. It’s very, very cool.” You can hear the smile in the familiar voice. “Thanks, folks.”