Name That Tune

Name That Tune

Onstage logo of The $100,000 Name That Tune from the 1984–85 daily series
Created by Harry Salter
Presented by Red Benson (1952–54)
Bill Cullen (1954–55)
George DeWitt (1955–59)
Richard Hayes (1970–71)
Dennis James (1974–75 daytime)
Tom Kennedy (1974–81 nighttime, 1977 daytime)
Jim Lange (1984–85)
Narrated by Johnny Olson (1958–59)
John Harlan (1974–81, 1984–85)
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 195 (1984–85 version)
Executive producer(s) Harry Salter (1952–59)
Ralph Edwards (1974–81)
Sandy Frank (1984–85)
Running time approx. 26 minutes
Production company(s) Ralph Edwards Productions (1974–81)
Sandy Frank Productions (1984–85)
Distributor Station Syndication Inc. (1974–81)
Sandy Frank Film Syndication Inc. (1984–85)
Original network NBC Radio (1952–54, 1974–75, 1977)
CBS (July 6, 1953 – October 19, 1959)
Syndicated (1970–71, 1974–81, 1984–85)
Original release December 20, 1952 – September 1985
Followed by Name That Video (2001)

Name That Tune is an American television game show that put two contestants against each other to test their knowledge of songs. Premiering in the United States on NBC Radio in 1952, the show was created and produced by Harry Salter and his wife Roberta.

Name That Tune ran from 1953–59 on NBC and CBS in prime time. The first hosts were Red Benson and later Bill Cullen, but George DeWitt became most identified with the show. The series finished at #30 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1956–57 season.[1]

Richard Hayes also emceed a local edition from 1970–71, which ran for 26 weeks in a small number of markets. However, the best-remembered syndicated Name That Tune aired once a week (expanded to twice a week for its final season) from 1974–81 with host Tom Kennedy. John Harlan was the show's announcer. This series was a Ralph Edwards production in association with Sandy Frank Productions, who distributed the series.

The centerpiece of each Name That Tune series was an orchestra, which would play the songs for the contestants to guess. Bob Alberti was the conductor of the orchestra for the first season, with Tommy Oliver replacing him in 1975 and Stan Worth replacing Oliver in 1978. The orchestra also featured a vocalist for the show's entire run. Originally the position was held by Kathie Lee Gifford, then known as Kathie Lee Johnson, who performed until 1978. She was replaced by Monica Burruss for the 1978–79 season, who remained with the series until its 1981 cancellation.

In the 1978–79 season, two changes were made. The series brought in choreographers Dennon Rawles and Jerri Fiala, the latter of whom was already working for show producer Ralph Edwards as hostess on The Cross-Wits, to serve as background dancers. In addition, the Name That Tune Orchestra was supplemented by The Sound System, a rock music ensemble led by Dan Sawyer with Steve March as its featured vocalist. The dancers were done away with after one season but The Sound System, along with March, stayed on for the rest of the show's run.

From 1976 onward, the show's title was The $100,000 Name That Tune. This was done to reflect the addition of a six-figure bonus prize to the game, originally awarded for correctly guessing one song and later for winning a tournament of champions.

Name That Tune returned to syndication as a daily series in 1984 with '70s series syndicator Sandy Frank taking over production from Ralph Edwards. and ran for one season. Jim Lange became the host with John Harlan returning as announcer. Frank called upon Tommy Oliver, with whom he had worked on the 1980 series Face the Music and the Tommy Oliver Orchestra to provide music. Like its syndicated predecessor, the 1984 series was known as The $100,000 Name That Tune and conducted a series of monthly tournaments to award the prize.

Two daytime Name That Tune series were broadcast by NBC in the 1970s. The first ran from July 29, 1974, to January 3, 1975, with Dennis James hosting; while the second was broadcast from January 3 to June 10, 1977, and was hosted by Tom Kennedy. Both series were lower-paying editions of the concurrent syndicated series and were both produced by Ralph Edwards.


1950s version

The contestants stood across the stage from two large ship's bells as the band started playing tunes. When a contestant knew the tune s/he ran across the stage to "ring the bell and name that tune!" [2] Four tunes were played every game, and each tune was worth increasing dollar amounts. The first tune was worth $5 and each subsequent tune was worth double the previous tune, up to $40 for the fourth and final tune. The player with the most money after four tunes won the game and played the bonus game called the "Golden Medley."

From 1955–59, only three tunes were played, worth $10, $20 and $30. If both players were tied at $30 each, both played as a team in the Golden Medley.

1970s and 1980s versions

Two contestants selected from the studio audience competed in various games to earn points as well as cash and prizes. Each of the first two games awarded 10 points to the winner and the winner of the third game scored 20 points. Whoever was ahead at the end of the third game was the day's winner and played the Golden Medley for a chance at more prizes. If the score was tied after three games, one final tune was played to determine the winner.


Bid-a-Note—The host read a clue to a song and the contestants alternated bidding as to how few notes they needed to identify the song. Bidding ended when one contestant challenged the other to name the tune or a bid of one (or even zero) notes was given by a player. Correctly identifying the song earned the contestant a point, while missing it gave the point to the opponent. It took three points to win the game, and for most of the 1974 series and all of the 1984 series, it was the last game of the day, determining the winner of the match.

Build-a-Tune—The orchestra played a tune starting with minimal instrumentation and gradually added more until it became a full orchestral arrangement. The player who named more tunes out of five received 10 points and a prize package. If both players were tied, each received five points and the prizes. This game was played only on the short-lived 1977 daytime version.

Cassette Roulette—Eight over-sized 8-track tapes were displayed, each containing a category. Contestants alternated in choosing a tape, and the corresponding tune was played. Four of the cassettes also contained a bonus prize, which would be awarded to the contestant who correctly named the tune. Seven tunes were played, and the contestant who correctly named the most tunes won the round and 10 points. This was played during the first few months of the 1970s syndicated version.

Melody Roulette—A wheel was spun onstage to determine a cash prize for identifying the tune. Early in both the daytime and syndicated versions the wheel contained categories. Each contestant selected a category before each spin and received $100 if the wheel stopped on their choice. However, the categories were later replaced by money amounts ranging from $20–$1,000 from 1974–76, $50–$1,000 from 1976–77, and $100–$1,000 from 1977–81 on the syndicated series and $50–$500 on the 1977 daytime series. Also, during early playings on the syndicated version, each contestant selected a $200 space on the wheel. If the wheel landed on one of those spaces, that contestant won $200 automatically prior to the start of the tune.

An outer wheel was added in 1976 which held two spaces marked "Double" and was spun in the opposite direction of the inner. From 1977–80, it also featured a space offering a new car, but the car could be won only once per episode. In 1980, this was replaced by two generic "prize" spaces, which worked the same way, along with only one Double space. On the 1980s version, up to five tunes were originally played and the dollar amounts initially ranged from $100–$500, with money awarded after every tune and the wheel spun again prior to the next tune. This was later increased to seven tunes with only one spin for the entire round, with dollar values increased to $250–$1,000. The outer wheel on the 1980s version featured only one Double space.

If both contestants were tied at the end of the round, five points were given to each contestant on the 1970s series. On the 1980s syndicated episodes, a final tiebreaker tune was played instead. On the 1970s series, all contestants kept the cash they earned, but only the winner of Melody Roulette got to keep the cash on the 1980s series.

Money Tree—Both contestants were given their own "tree" with 100 $1 bills on it. While one contestant tried to guess a tune, his/her opponent would remove bills as fast as possible from the first contestant's tree until that contestant guessed correctly or ran out of time. The contestant with the most money left on his/her tree at the end of the round earned 10 points and a prize package, though it wasn't uncommon to see both trees stripped clean. The game was featured on the syndicated series from 1975–77.

Pick-a-Prize—Another game played only on the 1977 daytime series, this one had the contestants shown an assortment of prizes, then alternating between listening to tunes and trying to name them for a prize of their choice each time. The first player to name three tunes won the round and 10 points.

Pick-a-Tune—Each tune would feature a list of words which included the words in the tune's title. Contestants eliminated words so that only the words in the title remained. This game was featured early in the first season of the 1974 syndicated series.

Ring That Bell—As on the 1950s version, two bells were suspended from the ceiling, with each contestant about 20 feet away. The first contestant to correctly "ring the bell and name that tune" scored a point. Five tunes were played, and the contestant who correctly guessed the most tunes won the round and 10 points. This game was seen only on the 1974 daytime series.

Sing-a-Tune—After hearing a tune sung by the show's vocalist Kathie Lee Johnson, contestants wrote down the name of the tune. Johnson replaced any words normally part of the song title with "la-las." Five tunes were played and the winner of the round received 10 points and a prize package. If contestants were tied, each received the prize package and 5 points. The game was played only during the 1977–78 season. Johnson left the show in 1978 and was replaced by the team of Monica Burruss and Steve March.

Tune Topics—Exclusive to the 1984 series, the orchestra would play five tunes with a specific theme. Originally, one topic was exclusively shown, but it was quickly changed to one of five categories chosen at random by a computer. Ten points were given to the contestant who identified the most tunes out of the five and, as with Melody Roulette, a tie-breaking tune was played if the contestants were tied after the initial five tunes had been played.

Golden Medley

The show's bonus game was called the Golden Medley, with the object to identify seven tunes within the span of thirty seconds.

1950s version

In the original series, all the tunes played were selected by home viewers. Each correct tune won money for the winning contestant as well as the home viewers. The first correct answer was worth $25, and each subsequent correct answer doubled the money. Naming all seven won $1,600 and gave a home viewer a chance to come to the New York studio where the show was taped at that time, and play along with the studio contestant in a special round called the "Golden Medley Marathon".

The Golden Medley Marathon

In the Golden Medley Marathon, the winning home viewer and the winning studio contestant worked as a team. This time, the two players had to correctly guess five tunes in 30 seconds, and if they did so they split $10,000 and returned the next week to try and do it again. They could keep coming back for up to four additional weeks, and potentially could win a combined $50,000.

All subsequent series

For the 1970s and 1980s Name That Tune series, the Golden Medley was played for a grand prize and each tune correctly guessed earned the champion a prize of some sort.

As before, with one exception, the goal was to identify seven tunes in thirty seconds to win the grand prize. The champion stopped the clock by hitting a buzzer, which was a cue for the band to stop playing, and could either give an answer or pass if he/she was not sure. Once all seven tunes were played, the champion went back to play the passed tunes if there were any.

Play continued until the champion correctly identified all seven tunes and won, until he/she ran out of time, or if a wrong guess was given at any point, which resulted in an automatic loss.

1974 daytime series

The winning player had to correctly identify six (later five) tunes. Each correct guess won $200, and $2,000 was awarded if the contestant guessed all six in 30 seconds. No matter what the result of the Golden Medley was, the champion returned the next day and played until s/he had won five times or had been defeated. Any champion that made it to a fifth day won a car.

Later in the run, corresponding with the change to five tunes, it only took four match wins to win the car and retire undefeated. However, a contestant could also be retired if they lost the Golden Medley.

Syndicated version

In the Kennedy syndicated series, each tune was worth $500 in cash and/or prizes (usually, a contestant who got six won a car on the nighttime version), and any contestant who named all seven tunes won a $15,000 prize package. On the 1977 daytime version, each tune was worth $250, and all seven won a $2,500 prize package.

The $100,000 Mystery Tune

Beginning in 1976, Golden Medley winners were given a chance to win an additional $100,000 in cash on the next week's episode by identifying one more song.

The contestant entered the "Gold Room" backstage, which contained a safe with a carousel inside containing various envelopes with sheet music. When the round began, security guard Jeff Addis opened the safe, and the player chose an envelope. Addis then escorted the contestant onto the stage and gave the show's pianist the sheet music. The contestant entered an isolation booth, which was wired so only the pianist and Kennedy could be heard. The tune was played for twenty seconds, and after that the contestant had ten seconds to provide a guess.

After a guess was made, it was recorded and the contestant left the booth while Kennedy opened the envelope the contestant chose. After Kennedy read the song's copyright information and the recording of the contestant's guess was played back, he announced the correct title. If the contestant's guess matched it they won $100,000 (payable in ten yearly installments of $10,000).

When Name That Tune returned to daytime in 1977, the Mystery Tune round was brought along with it. Played the same way as the syndicated round, a correct guess won the contestant a lump sum of $25,000.

On days when the Mystery Tune was played, the front game was abbreviated. For instance, Bid-a-Note would become a best of three instead of five in order to leave enough time to play the Mystery Tune.

$100,000 Tournaments

In 1977, eleven of the twelve Golden Medley winners who did not win $100,000 returned for a three-week tournament (the twelfth was taking a 52-day Mediterranean cruise at the time, which was one of the Golden Medley prizes). In the first two weeks, five or six players competed in an otherwise normal game, except that in Melody Roulette, only the first two players to answer two tunes continued, and the Golden Medley was turned into a competitive game called Golden Medley Showdown (the clock stopped when either player buzzed in or five seconds elapsed) worth 20 points, while Sing a Tune and Bid a Note each scored 10 points. The two winners came back on the third week, playing Melody Roulette, Sing a Tune, and Bid a Note for 10 points each, and Golden Medley Showdown for 30, to determine the $100,000 winner. Unlike the mystery tune prize, this $100,000 was in cash and prizes. Runners-up won $2,500.

In 1978, the show (which had switched to a disco set and theme) discarded the Mystery Tunes and the entire season was set up to have four nine-week $100,000 tournaments. The first six weeks consisted of two-player games, featuring Melody Roulette, Bid a Note, and Golden Medley Showdown. The six winners returned for a three-week tournament, played like the 1977 tournament, except that three players played Melody Roulette and two of those players played the remaining two games. After six episodes played in this fashion, the six winners return to play, three at a time, over two episodes. Every ninth episode would be a tournament final. The winner of each tournament won $10,000 a year for the next ten years, while the runner-up won a car. A number of celebrity specials filled out the season.

1984–85 version

The daily 1980s Name That Tune conducted its Golden Medley in the same manner as the previous series had. Each tune was worth at least $250 in prizes for a correct answer, and correctly guessing all seven won a trip. Any contestant that won the Golden Medley over the course of a month returned at the end of the month to play in the $100,000 Tournament of Champions.

Each tournament episode varied in the amount of contestants playing, depending on how many players qualified for the tournament. If more than two players were playing on any particular episode, a qualifying round was played in lieu of Melody Roulette, and the first two players to identify two tunes advanced to the next round. The two players then played Tune Topics and Bid-a-Note for 10 points each and the Golden Medley Showdown for 20. The player with the most points at the end of the Golden Medley Showdown advanced in the tournament, and a tiebreaking tune was played if necessary as before. For games with two players, the game was conducted as it normally was with Melody Roulette and Tune Topics worth 10 points, Bid-a-Note worth 20, and the Golden Medley Showdown worth 40.

The winner at the end of the tournament won $10,000 in cash, a new Pontiac Fiero, an emerald and diamond necklace, a Schaefer and Sons grand piano, a Hitachi home entertainment center, a pair of Jules Jurgensen watches, a spa from Polynesian Spas, a Caribbean vacation, and one week a year in perpetuity at a timeshare resort in Palm Springs. The runner up won a vacation package.

For several weeks of non-tournament shows in late 1984, a "Home Viewer Sweepstakes" was held. The day's winner picked a name out of a drum, then randomly selected one of the above prizes. A Golden Medley win earned that prize for the home viewer.

Super Champions Tournament

For the first two weeks of the 1984 daily Name That Tune series, fourteen $100,000 winners from the previous series were brought back to compete for a second $100,000 in what was called the Super Champions tournament. The winner of that tournament was Elena Cervantes.

Name That Video

Further information: Name That Video

Name That Video was a variation that aired from 2001–02 on VH1. The show was hosted by Karyn Bryant and featured contestants competing to name song titles by viewing the music video.

International versions



Hast du Töne? (Do you have sound?), hosted by Matthias Opdenhövel, aired daily on VOX from 1999–2001. Gameplay was somewhat different from the U.S. version, but the final round was the same as the Golden Medley.


Ugaday Melodiyu (Guess the Tune), hosted by Valdis Pelsh, aired daily on ORT from 1995–99. It was produced by the VID TV Company. The version was presented like the German version. Later, the series was presented as Ugadai i kompaniya (Guess and company) called Ugadaika (Guessing), by Pelsh also, but it was not as successful as the first version. In 2003, the program was revived and aired for two years on Channel One Russia. Gameplay remained the same and the only difference was the size of prizes. On the 2nd of January 2013 the program was again revived.


Qual é a Música? ("What Song Is It?" or "Which Song Is It?"), hosted by Silvio Santos, has been a hit on SBT for the past two decades. The show is currently placed on hiatus.


Il Musichiere (The Musicians) aired on Saturdays from 1957–60 on the then-named Programma Nazionale, but ended after host Mario Riva accidentally fell from the stage and subsequently died. Sarabanda (Sarabande), a similar program, aired from 1997–2004 on Italia 1.


Jaka to melodia? (What tune is that?) airs 7 days a week on TVP1. First episode was broadcast on 4 September 1997. The program is hosted by Robert Janowski, an actor and singer.

The show is noted for starting and ending each episode with a musical performance by either the in-house band and singers, or guests, or sometimes both. Performances also occur at random points throughout the show, usually after a correct answer. These performances are usually shorter in length than the proper song's length to accommodate a 30-minute time slot. The game is played entirely for cash, with the show's winner playing the Golden Medley for 10,000 zloty. On some occasions, Janowski himself will sing.


The show called Nốt nhạc vui (Happy Notes) was aired from January 14, 2004 to March 25, 2009. It became popular and it was among the most watched TV series of Ho Chi Minh City Television. Thanh Bach served as the host.


Versions also aired in Australia, Armenia, Canada, France, Ukraine, Poland, and Spain. Recently, Romania and Hungary launched versions of the show. Other countries to get versions include Morocco, Portugal, Slovakia, and Turkey.

Country Name Presenter Channel Date of transmission
 Australia Name That Tune Bruce Gyngell
Chuck Falkner
Tony Barber
Stuart Wagstaff
TCN9 1956–57
 Armenia Գուշակիր մեղեդին
Gushakir Meghedin
Avet Barseghyan Armenia 1 2015–present
 Brazil Qual é a Musica? Silvio Santos SBT 1976–91
 Canada Fa Si La Chanter Patrick Bourgeois Télévision de Radio-Canada 1996–98
 France Fa Si La Chanter Pascal Brunner
Cyril Hanouna
France 3 1994–2000
 Germany Hast du Töne? Matthias Opdenhövel VOX 1999–2001
 Hungary Hangszáll Róbert Sikora M1 1998–99
 Indonesia Berpacu Dalam Melodi Koes Hendratmo TVRI 1988–98
Metro TV 2000–05
David Bayu Danangjaya NET. 2014–present
 Italy Il Musichiere Mario Riva Programma Nazionale 1957–60
Sarabanda Enrico Papi Italia 1 1997–2004
Teo Mammucari and Belén Rodríguez Canale 5 2009
 Morocco Fa Si La Imad Ntifi 2M 2003–08
 Poland Jaka to melodia? Robert Janowski TVP 1 1997–present
 Portugal RTP1
 Russia Угадай мелодию
Ugaday Melodiyu
Valdis Pelsh ORT 1995–99
Угадай мелодию-II Pervyi Kanal 2003–05
Угадай мелодию-III Pervyi Kanal 2013–present
 Spain Antena 3
 Turkey Bir Şarki Söyle Berna Laçin Kanal D 1998–99
 Ukraine Яка то мелодія
Yaka to melodiya
Konstantin Kirkaryan Ukrayina (TV channel) 2008
 United Kingdom Name That Tune Tom O'Connor ITV 1976–83
Lionel Blair 1983–88
Jools Holland Channel 5 1997–98
 United States Name That Tune Red Benson (1952–54)
Bill Cullen (1954–55)
George DeWitt (1955–59)
NBC Radio (1952–54)
CBS (1953–59)
Richard Hayes Syndication 1970–71
Dennis James (1974–75 daytime)
Tom Kennedy (1974–81 nighttime, 1977 daytime)
Jim Lange 1984–85
Name That Video Karyn Bryant VH1 2001–02
 Vietnam Nốt Nhạc Vui Thanh Bạch Ho Chi Minh City Television 2004–09

Episode status

The 1950s version was likely destroyed, given network practices. The March 10, 1955 episode (with Bill Cullen) and a highlight episode from the final season (with Johnny Olson announcing) are known to exist. Episodes from 1954, 1956, and 1957 are held by the Paley Center for Media.[3]

The status of the locally produced Richard Hayes series and the NBC daytime series hosted by Dennis James and Tom Kennedy are unknown. It is unclear whether any of the stations that aired Hayes' version kept their tapes, but the James and daytime Kennedy versions were likely destroyed given NBC's practices that continued into 1980. A clip from a James episode was used in a 1988 "Game Show Hosts Special" episode of FOX's The Late Show, and a full episode from December 26 was discovered in February 2010. Another episode was discovered by Stu Shostak in May 2015, recorded by Dennis himself.

The syndicated Kennedy run is intact. Since producer Ralph Edwards' death, the episodes are in the possession of his estate.[4]

The 1984 syndicated series is fully intact and was rerun on American television on a fairly heavy basis for almost a decade. CBN was the first to air reruns of the series, from September 2, 1985 to August 29, 1986. USA Network picked it up on January 2, 1989[5] and ran it until September 13, 1991.[6] The Lange series was last seen on The Family Channel, which aired it from June 7, 1993[7] to March 29, 1996.[8]

Arcade game

In 1986, a coin-operated arcade game based on the show was released by Bally Sente, created by Owen Rubin. The player's task was to guess the tune being played from among four choices. It also featured a two-player mode. While playable, some gamers consider the machine's difficulty to be high due to the technical limits of the very basic synthesized music the machine was capable of.

The game required the player to score 18,000 points, using the Tune Topics round and Bid-a-Note rounds. The faster the player named the tune, the more points they scored. In Bid-a-Note, the player also scored 100 points for naming the tune in 9 notes, 200 for 8 notes, and so on until they reached just 1 note, at which they'd score 900 points. In both rounds, the player needed a certain requirement (3 out of 5) to win both rounds.

The Golden Medley round required five tunes to be named in 15 seconds, giving 3 choices per tune instead of 4, and using the fourth button to use as a pass. Getting all five won the bonus. As on the show, one wrong guess ended the round immediately.

Video game

A game based on the show was released for the short-lived Philips CD-i home console. This version was hosted by Bob Goen and varies greatly from any version of the televised shows; it was instead based off an unsold revival pilot that was hosted by Peter Allen in 1990; that pilot was co-produced by Marty Pasetta and Orion Television and was not picked up.

Wireless version

In 2003, a mobile phone version of the game appeared on major U.S. cellular providers. The game follows the traditional format, with MIDI interpretations of popular and classic music played in short clips. The player then has several seconds to correctly identify the tune. Prizes such as free ringtones were available, a first in the mobile industry.[9] The game is often mentioned as a pioneer in the emerging wireless entertainment industry.[10]


  1. " TV Ratings > 1950's".
  2. "Name That Tune". Game Shows Utopia. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  3. "The Collection Search Results". The Paley Center for Media. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  4. "All in the Game: The "Lost" Episodes". The Game Show Convention Center. August 16, 1999. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
  5. The Intelligencer—2 January 1989
  6. The Intelligencer—September 13, 1991
  7. The Intelligencer—June 7, 1993
  8. TV Guide—March 23–29, 1996
  9. "Sonic Branding Solutions".
  10. Pioneer in wireless industry Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
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