"WKRP In Cincinnati": Facts and Trivia
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This page will list any fun facts or bits of trivia I can find for various WKRP episodes. Some of it comes from articles I've read; some of it just comes from good old word-of-mouth and hearsay.
Some of the info comes from a WKRP seminar sponsored by the Museum of Television and Radio on March 4, 1994 (as part of their yearly series of seminars on various television programs). This seminar featured the entire regular cast and most of the writers (Hugh Wilson was unable to attend due to a snowstorm that delayed his plane). The seminar can be viewed at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City.
If you have anything to add to what's below, write and tell me; if a piece of information was provided by someone else, I'll put his or her name next to it in parentheses.
The episodes are listed in the order of their original airings on CBS.
- Though never fully mentioned on the show, the "official" name of WKRP's building is the Osgood R. Flimm Building.
- The Flimm Building is actually the old Cincinnati Enquirer building, on 617 Vine Street.
- Other Cincinnati locations seen in the main title sequence include Fountain Square, Fort Washington Way, and the old WSAI-AM tower in Price Hill.
- The nonsense lyrics of the closing theme were, in part, inspired by the fact that CBS always had an announcer talking over the closing credits of its shows, rendering the songs unintelligible. No one really heard the closing "lyrics" of WKRP until the show went into syndication.
- At the Museum of Television and Radio, producer/director Rod Daniel claimed that the song starts with the words "Went to the bartender," but that everything after that is gibberish.
- In an interview with Ron Fineman, writer Steve Marshall recalled two scripts he wrote (both based on ideas by Hugh Wilson) that CBS would not allow to be produced.
One of the unproduced scripts was called "Jennifer's Wedding." It dealt with Jennifer's marriage to one of her elderly gentleman friends. The episode "Jennifer and the Will" was presumably supposed to be a sequel of sorts; this explains why all the characters in "Jennifer and the Will" are reacting as though Jennifer has lost her husband rather than merely one of several sugar-daddies. Despite the assurances that Jennifer would not remain married for more than a few weeks, CBS did not want the character married off, and the script was never shot.
The other was called "Another Merry Mix-Up." It dealt with the discovery, in the station, of what everyone thinks is a joint of hash. Though Johnny is of course suspected, it has actually been purchased by Herb in order to entertain some younger clients. However, the "joint" turns out to be nothing more than oregano. In a sort of reversal of the famous cocaine/foot-powder mixup, Mr. Carlson decides to smoke the "pot" to build up his confidence for a meeting with his mother's accountant. And lo and behold, Mr. Carlson is confident and "in control" throughout the subsequent meeting, even though he has only been smoking oregano. As Marshall points out, "What we had was a variation of the old 'Dumbo's magic feather' idea, with the message that your true powers come from within." Though ABC had allowed shows in which characters actually ingested marijuana (such as the famous hash-brownie episode of "Barney Miller"), the CBS standards and practices department held up the script for two years and finally refused to let it go into production.
- Much of the writing and production staff of WKRP came from an MTM comedy called The Tony Randall Show. Created by Jay Tarses and Tom Patchett and starring Tony Randall as a judge, the show received good reviews but never clicked in the ratings. It ran two seasons, one on ABC and the other on CBS. In the second season, 1977-78, with Tarses and Patchett at odds with MTM and the network, much of the work of running the show was left to two relatively new MTM staffers, Gary David Goldberg and Hugh Wilson.
- During its four seasons on CBS, WKRP's time slot was changed eleven times.
- Soon after WKRP was cancelled in June of 1982, summer reruns of the series shot into the top ten and stayed there throughout the summer. The reason, most likely, was that after CBS executives cancelled the show, they stopped moving it around the schedule; they left it in one time slot for the whole summer, and viewers finally knew where to find it. The last CBS broadcast of WKRP was # 1 in its timeslot, and # 7 in the ratings for the week.
- According to one book (whose title I currently forget but which I'll locate as soon as possible), CBS executives attempted to bring back WKRP after the summer reruns took off, but by that time it was too late; Howard Hesseman, Loni Anderson and Gary Sandy had all become involved with other projects.
- At the Museum of Television and Radio, Rod Daniel claimed that there was a CBS executive who, after leaving the network, publicly made it known that he hated WKRP. Tim Reid claimed that the same (unnamed) executive declared he'd like to hire a hit man to rub out Hugh Wilson.
- During WKRP's run on CBS, the network assigned Hanna-Barbera to come up with a WKRP Saturday morning cartoon series with all the characters as dogs. This series was, perhaps thankfully, never actually produced.
- WKRP writer Blake Hunter had a little book in which he wrote down character and story "facts." During story conferences, he would refer to this book to preserve continuity (so, for example, Herb mentions in one episode that he plans to buy a Cordoba, and in a later episode we learn that he actually went out and bought it).
- At the Museum of Television and Radio, Tim Reid recalled that Blake Hunter was the resident expert on the show's ratings: "Our ratings, at any time, any place, he knew. He'd say 'How'd we do in Guam? We got a four share in Guam!'"
Seasons One and Two
Episode # 1: "Pilot"
- Jay Sandrich, the director of the pilot episode, was (and still is) one of the best and most prolific comedy directors in TV. He directed most episodes of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and directed many other pilots for MTM, including "The Bob Newhart Show," "Rhoda," and "Phyllis." Sandrich was the main director for "Soap" and "The Cosby Show," and directed many other pilots, including "The Golden Girls," "Benson," and "Empty Nest."
- The "easy-listening" artists Johnny plays, Felix Mandel and the Hallelujah Tabernacle Choir, are fictitious (the Hallelujah Tabernacle Choir is of course a parody of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir).
- This episode contains a blooper: When Johnny Fever first plays rock music (the format change) and cuts loose over the air, he starts the record on the first track. When the scene ends, however, we can see that the tonearm of the turntable has moved all the way ON TOP OF the record's label in the center! [Matt J. McCullar]
- Notice that something is missing in this episode and most episodes from the first season: The "bullpen" set, where Herb, Les and Bailey work, does not yet exist. Instead Andy's office is one of the main sets (two scenes are played there). Almost every one of the early episodes includes a scene or two in Andy's office, even when Andy's not around and it makes no sense for other characters to be there. Soon after the show came back from hiatus, the bullpen was added, and from then on Andy's office was rarely seen.
- Venus's confusing backstory begins here: He is introduced as the #1 nighttime Disc Jockey in New Orleans. In "The Creation of Venus" (episode # 87), it's revealed that he was actually a part-time DJ and full-time schoolteacher.
Episode # 2: "Pilot, part 2"
- Despite the title, this is not a part of the WKRP pilot. The pilot that was written, shot, and delivered to CBS was the half-hour episode known as "Pilot, Part 1." "Pilot, part 2," on the other hand, was the first episode shot after WKRP was picked up as a series. Hard to say why it was listed as a second pilot episode, unless it was just a question of not having a good title!
- This was the first WKRP episode directed by Michael Zinberg. A former producer, writer and director for MTM's "The Bob Newhart Show," Zinberg would direct four early episodes of WKRP, including the famous "Turkeys Away."
- Richard Paul (Mr. Coe) was a member of The Committee, the famous comedy troupe Howard Hesseman belonged to. (A fairly typical sketch by The Committee is available on a Rhino CD boxed set called "But Seriously: The American Comedy Box." The sketch is called "Wide Wide World of War" and features Hesseman broadcasting the Vietnam war like a play- by-play sportscaster.) Other WKRP guest stars who were members of The Committee include Peter Elbling (Hoodlum Rock), Garry Goodrow (Hold-Up), Julie Payne (For Love Or Money), Ruth Silveira (Till Debt Do Us Part) and John Brent (Straight From the Heart).
Episode # 3: "Les On a Ledge"
- This was the first of 15 WKRP episodes directed by Asaad Kelada. Born in Cairo, Egypt, Kelada came to the United States in 1961 to study at Yale University School of Drama. In addition to his career as a television director, he has directed many theatre productions and taught drama at several universities. Kelada directed the pilot of "Family Ties" and has directed for such shows as "Phyllis," "The Facts of Life," and "Dharma and Greg."
- This episode introduced a gag that would recur in several other episodes: Johnny trying to sneak up on Jennifer, who invariably knows he's there without turning around.
- In case you're wondering, a "fardel" is a burden.
- When Herb says "I've been thinking it over and it's okay if you're gay," the word "gay" doesn't match his lip movements. The word seems to have been looped in at the last minute to replace some other word.
Episode # 4: "Hoodlum Rock"
- The music of "Scum of the Earth" is provided by the real-life group Detective, but only member of Detective actually appears in the episode: Michael Des Barres (as Dog). The other two members of Scum are actors, lip-synching to records by Detective.
- If you watch Andy's office very closely in the scene in which Mr. Carlson walks in, complaining about how nervous he is about doing a rock concert in the first place, you can plainly see a "Detective" record album cover on a file cabinet. [Matt J. McCullar]
- According to an article in the "Wall Street Journal" that appeared around the time this episode aired, the characterization of the Scum of the Earth members was significantly changed during rehearsals. Originally they were supposed to be typical punk rockers, dressing, talking and acting as outrageously as possible. It became apparent during rehearsals that this wasn't working; they couldn't parody punk rock because punk rock was already a parody in itself. So it was decided to have the band members arrive beautifully dressed and speaking with upper-class accents, which made their outrageous behaviour funny by contrast with their appearance.
- The WKRP staff saved the "Welcome Scum" poster from this episode. On a day when the lot was visited by CBS president William Paley and various representatives of CBS affiliates, the WKRP staff greeted them by hanging that poster out the window. Rod Daniel recalled: "We thought it was funny; they did not have a sense of humor."
Episode # 5: "Hold-Up"
- Most of the first-season writers of "WKRP" appear in this episode: Bill Dial (as Bucky Dornster), Hugh Wilson (as the cop who shouts "Freeze!"), Tom Chehak and Blake Hunter (in non-speaking roles as two other cops).
- The closing deep-voiced narration spoofs the TV show "Dragnet."
Episode # 6: "Bailey's Show"
- Joyce Armor, who co-wrote this episode, was a production assistant on the pilot episode; she and Judie Neer also contributed scripts to "The Tony Randall Show."
Episode # 7: "Turkeys Away"
- "America's Favorite Radio Station" incorrectly lists the title of this episode as "Turkey's Away."
- Everybody knows that this episode is based on a true story. The question is, *which* true story? The "turkey drop" was something of a radio-business legend even before this episode was made, but there were and still are conflicting stories as to where it happened. It is often claimed that it happened at WQXI in Atlanta. On the other hand, a 1979 report in "Advertising Age" magazine said that it was done by a radio station in Dallas, and that the turkeys were in fact thrown out of the back of a speeding truck. At the museum of Television and Radio, Rod Daniel also claimed it happened in Dallas, but that "they bombed a supermarket."
- The Pink Floyd selection heard in this episode is called "Dogs" and comes from their album "Animals."
- During this sequence, they added a "skip" back in the music to extend the dogs-barking section to fill the scene. [Joseph Shelby]
- Blooper: If you look very closely at the record spinning on the turntable while Johnny is telling Venus about the Blond Wig giveaway and the Guatamalan earthquake, the record label changes back and forth between a black label (Columbia, probably) and a brighter colored one. [Joseph Shelby]
- Les's broadcast of the turkey drop is partly a spoof of the famous live broadcast of the Hindenburg disaster, which is where the line "Oh, the humanity!" comes from.
- For a special prime-time rerun of this episode in 1980, new closing credits were prepared that used the shorter version of the closing theme and changed the copyright date to 1980.
Episode # 8: "Love Returns"
- THE CAT FROM OUTER SPACE, the film Herb wants to see with Jennifer, was a typically insipid Disney kids' film from 1978.
- In this episode, Mr. Carlson says that he and Carmen have been married 27 years, but two years later, in "A Simple Little Wedding" (episode 65), they're celebrating their 25th anniversary.
Episode # 9: "Mama's Review"
- This was the first episode shown after "WKRP" returned from hiatus. The show was placed on hiatus by CBS after only eight episodes, with five episodes from the initial thirteen-episode order having been produced but not yet shown. Episodes shown before the hiatus have the long opening title sequence (with the famous line about the Senator who could not explain his nudity). All episodes shown after the hiatus, including this one, have a prologue or "teaser" followed by the more familiar short title sequence.
- With this episode Carol Bruce replaces Sylvia Sidney as Mama Carlson. Bruce was best known for her stage work; a fine singer and actress, she played Julie in the 1946 Broadway revival of "Show Boat" and originated roles in Irving Berlin's "Louisiana Purchase" (1940) and Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim's "Do I Hear a Waltz?" (1965).
- The clips shown are from "Pilot," "Pilot Part 2," "Les On a Ledge," "Hold-Up," and "Turkeys Away." The clip of Venus in the booth was newly-taped.
Episode # 10: "A Date With Jennifer"
- This episode introduced the bullpen set, as well as the famous running gag about Les's "walls."
Episode # 11: "The Contest Nobody Could Win"
- Casey Piotrowski, the writer of this episode, was a fairly well- known radio disc jockey.
- The premise of this episode, like that of "Turkeys Away," comes from a real-life incident (a DJ announcing the wrong prize in a contest) that had become a radio-industry legend.
- Pete Rose left the Cincinnati Reds, for whom he had played since 1963, after the 1978 season; he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent.
- The line "It's the suits vs. the dungarees" comes verbatim from the concept Hugh Wilson originally pitched to CBS. The main conflict of the show was to be between the hip, casually dressed station employees (Andy, Venus, Johnny) and the staid, conventional types in suits (Mr. Carlson, Herb, Les). As the characters outgrew these labels, this conflict was downplayed; this is one of the last episodes where it's central to the story.
Episode # 12: "Tornado"
- This was the first WKRP episode directed by Will Mackenzie, who would go on to direct 16 episodes in all, most of them in the second season. As an actor, Mackenzie was best known as Larry Bondurant, Carol Kester's husband, on MTM's "The Bob Newhart Show." As a director, he has directed for many shows, including numerous episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond." He also directed the famous "A: My Name Is Alex" episode of "Family Ties."
- Blooper: Remember how Les's teletype shows "TORNADO WARNING" at the end of the teaser? That message already appears earlier, while Les is telling an inattentive Herb about how "everybody's so tied up with their own lives... nobody cares." The paper is already printed out, sitting in the teletype! You can see it, if you look carefully. [Matt J. McCullar]
- The scene with Mr. Carlson talking to the little girl on the phone is based on still another radio-industry legend.
Episode # 13: "Goodbye, Johnny"
- The song Johnny is singing as he enters Andy's office is "It's a Lovely Day Today," by Irving Berlin, from the 1950 Broadway musical CALL ME MADAM.
Episode # 14: "Johnny Comes Back"
- This was the first WKRP episode to feature Sam Anderson, who guest-starred as a different character every season. At that time, it was much more common than it is now for a sitcom to feature a single actor in more than one role (for example, Phil Leeds played about a dozen different characters during the run of Barney Miller). Other actors who played more than one role on WKRP include Hamilton Camp, Michael Fairman, Hugh Gillin, Michael Pataki, Daphne Maxwell, and Don Diamond.
- The song "Nowhere Band," the group "The Soundtastics," and the label "Onslaught Records" are all fictitious.
- Venus refers to WKRP's late-night DJ as "Moss Steiner." In subsequent episodes his name becomes "Moss Steiger." Moss was killed off in an episode of "The New WKRP."
- There is some doubt as to what Johnny said that got him fired from his new L.A. job. (It is bleeped out when he says it.) In "America's Favorite Radio Station," Howard Hesseman recalls that it was either "Fuck you" or "Tough shit," but it has been rumored that he's actually saying "Jive-ass."
Episode # 15: "Never Leave Me, Lucille"
- Some versions of this episode are missing the writing credit for Bill Dial.
Episode # 16: "I Want To Keep My Baby"
Episode # 17: "A Commercial Break"
- This was the first of 24 WKRP episodes directed by Rod Daniel. Born in Nashville in 1942, he later moved to Atlanta and directed commercials and other projects for Jayan Films. When former Atlanta advertising-man Hugh Wilson created WKRP, Daniel became the show's associate producer. Daniel stayed with the show until the middle of the third season, rising to the rank of supervising producer. He would later direct episodes of such shows as "Newhart," "The Duck Factory," and "Everybody Loves Raymond," as well as the feature films Teen Wolf, K-9 and Like Father, Like Son.
- The line "Sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong" is a quote from the song "Sing" by Joe Raposo; introduced on "Sesame Street," it became a hit when recorded by The Carpenters.
- Venus's backstory, continued: A line in this episode establishes that he had a rock band at one point.
Episode # 18: "Who Is Gordon Sims?"
- Venus's big speech is based on a true story. In "America's Favorite Radio Station," writer Tom Chehak recalls that he read many Vietnam war reminiscences trying to find a story to adapt into the climactic speech of this episode. He also mentions that the story he originally wanted to use was rejected as being too horrific to get on the air.
- Venus's backstory, continued: We learn here that he's been on the run from the law since he fled the army at age 22.
Episode # 19: "I Do...I Do...For Now"
- The title refers to a bad 1976 movie called "I Will...I Will... For Now."
- The late Hoyt Axton, a popular country singer and sometime actor, plays T.J. and sings two of his own songs: "I'm a Jealous Man" and "Della and the Dealer."
Episode # 20: "Young Master Carlson"
- "America's Favorite Radio Station" erroneously credits Blake Hunter as co-writer of this episode. The actual onscreen writing credit lists Hugh Wilson alone as the writer.
- In "The New WKRP In Cincinnati," Arthur Carlson Jr. is grown up and working as the station's backstabbing assistant sales manager; he was played by Lightfield Lewis.
Episode # 21: "Fish Story"
- "Raoul Plager," the credited writer of this episode, is actually Hugh Wilson, who wrote the script in response to CBS's demands to make the show sillier, and was sufficiently embarrassed by it to remove his name from the credits. Ironically, this episode is one of the most famous and popular of the entire series.
- It was also the highest-rated episode of the entire series, pulling in something like an 80 share.
- At the Museum of Television and Radio, Tim Reid told this story: The year after "Fish Story" aired, Hugh Wilson was visiting his father (a law professor) at Harvard Law school when a bunch of law students emerged from the student union, still laughing hysterically after seeing a rerun of this episode. Despite his having disowned the episode, Wilson couldn't resist telling the students that he'd written the episode. "What's your name?" the students asked. "Hugh Wilson." "You didn't write that," they replied. "We saw the credits. Raoul Plager wrote that!"
- Jennifer's line "Sorry, Charlie" is the catchphrase of the famous Starkist tuna commercials featuring Charlie the cartoon tuna.
- M.G. Kelly, who plays reporter Quentin Stone, was well-known in the L.A. area as the disc jockey on KTNQ, "Machine Gun" Kelly.
Episode # 22: "Preacher"
- Professional wrestler Haystack Calhoun (1933-1989) is mentioned by Venus as one of Little Ed's wrestling opponents ("Little Ed stuck his head through a soda-pop machine"). Calhoun hit his peak of popularity in the 1950s. In his prime, he was alleged to weigh 600 pounds.
Episodes # 23 & 24: "For Love Or Money"
- The song underscoring the end of part 1 and the beginning of part 2 is "After the Love Is Gone" by Earth, Wind and Fire.
- The last of part 1, with Bailey waiting for Johnny, was taped without an audience. A burst of canned laughter inappropriately fills the soundtrack when Bailey walks past a picture of Rod Stewart that's been defaced (presumably by Johnny).
Episode # 25: "Baseball"
- This episode was taped in Shadow Ranch Park in Woodland Hills, California, using a single videotape camera rather than the four usually used for videotaped sitcoms.
- According to a press release about the process of shooting a sitcom episode outside of the studio, it was so hot during the taping that Loni Anderson's nail polish wilted and Richard Sanders took to lying under the bench when he wasn't needed in a scene.
- Obviously, there was no audience in that park; a canned laugh track is used. Here is a list of WKRP episodes that were taped without a live audience: "Baseball," "The Airplane Show," "Real Familes," "The Baby," "Bah, Humbug," "Daydreams," "Straight From the Heart," "Fire," and "Circumstantial Evidence."
Episode # 26: "Bad Risk"
- Les's line "A hard rain's gonna fall" is the title of a song by Bob Dylan.
Episode # 27: "Jennifer Falls In Love"
- This is the first of many second-season episodes where Les gives a news report about Philadelphia. Why Philadelphia? Who knows, though it might have something to do with the fact that Steven Kampmann, one of the writers, was from that city.
Episode # 28: "Carlson For President"
- References to Richard Nixon in this episode include Carlson's line "But that would be wrong," the "pray with me" scene, and, of course, "Deep Throat."
- Lillian Garrett-Bonner (Mrs. Mitzi Monahan) was married to Frank Bonner at the time of this episode. [Andrew Steinberg]
Episode # 29: "Mike Fright"
- Herb Score, discussed by Venus and Johnny, was a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians who had a phenomenal rookie year in 1954, winning 20 games. The following year he was hit in the eye by a ball. Though he eventually came back, he was never anywhere near as good as he was in that first year.
- The mayor of Cincinnati at the time of this episode was none other than Jerry Springer.
Episode # 30: "Patter of Little Feet"
- Allyn Ann McLerie makes her series debut here as Carmen Carlson. A charming dancer with a thin but adequate singing voice, she played ingenue roles in the Broadway musicals "Where's Charley" (1948) and "Miss Liberty" (1949). She repeated her stage role in the movie version of "Where's Charley" (1952) and played a major role in the Doris Day vehicle "Calamity Jane" (1953). She played numerous roles on television, including a regular role on MTM's "The Tony Randall Show."
Episode # 31: "Baby, If You've Ever Wondered"
- The Chrysler Cordoba, the car which Herb is so anxious to get, was manufactured from 1975 to 1983. It was well-known from a commercial where Ricardo Montalban's voice praised its "reclining bucket seats" and "fine Corinthian leather." If you can take it, here is a link to a page about The history of the Chrysler Cordoba.
- In "Hotel Oceanview" (Episode # 51), we find out that Herb actually did purchase a Cordoba.
Episode # 32: "Bailey's Big Break"
- For a first-hand account of how this episode came to be written, see http://www.tir.com/~rtw/marsh.htm.
Episode # 33: "Jennifer's Home For Christmas"
- George Gaynes, who plays Henri, was a veteran stage and TV actor; he was also the husband of Allyn Ann McLerie.
Episode # 34: "Sparky"
- Venus's backstory, continued: Venus says here that he was once a minor-league baseball player.
Episode # 35: "God Talks To Johnny"
Episode # 36: "A Family Affair"
- In the scene in the bar, Tim Reid originally wanted Venus to punch out the racist trucker by himself. In "America's Radio Station," Reid claims that CBS was reluctant to approve a scene with a black man punching a white man, and that he found an acceptable compromise by having Andy throw a punch at the same time as Venus. However, in the same book, a CBS operative (who read the scripts before they were passed on to the top) claims that the script always specified that Venus and Andy would do the punching together, and that if any change was made to the script it must have been self-censorship, rather than censorship by CBS.
Episode # 37: "Herb's Dad"
- After this episode was taped, but before it aired, Bert Parks was fired as the host of the Miss America pageant. This attracted a lot of publicity for the episode as Parks' first prime-time appearance since the firing, and it lent a completely unintended subtext to the casting of Parks as someone who can't adjust to retirement!
Episode # 38: "Put Up Or Shut Up"
Episode # 39: "The Americanization of Ivan"
Episode # 40: "Les's Groupie"
- By revealing that Les had a huge, vicious dog at home, this episode finally revealed the reason for all Les's band-aids: The dog was clearly mauling poor Les every night. [Michael B. Kassel]
Episode # 41: "In Concert"
- This was the first of 11 WKRP episodes directed by Linda Day, formerly the show's associate director. . Here's a link to an autobiographical essay by Ms. Day, Action! A Director's Journey To Success.
- The final caption at the end of this episode was originally supposed to read something like:
As of today, the following cities have passed ordinances against festival seating:
...Followed by blank space.
This would have called attention to the fact that, at that time, no other cities had banned the dangerous practice of general admission seating at concerts, despite the disaster at Riverfront Coliseum. However, CBS rejected this caption, fearing that representatives of cities would demand equal time to go on the network and explain why it was a bad idea to ban festival seating.
Episode # 42: "The Doctor's Daughter"
Episodes # 43 & 44: "Filthy Pictures"
- The book "Tinker In Television" by MTM head honcho and TV legend Grant Tinker includes an exchange of letters about this episode. It was made in response to CBS's request for a special hourlong episode; just before the episode was originally scheduled to run, CBS decided against giving "WKRP" the extra half-hour and postponed it. Tinker prints an angry letter from Hugh Wilson, written at the time of the postponement, basically accusing MTM of favoring another of their CBS shows (a short-lived sitcom called "The Last Resort," created by Gary David Goldberg) over "WKRP." Following this is Tinker's even angrier reply.
- Bailey's alias, "Ginger Gregg," is derived from the name of WKRP assistant director Ginger Grigg.
Episode # 45: "Venus Rising"
- Rival radio station WREQ is a subtle reference to a radio station in Hugh Wilson's hometown of Atlanta. WREK-FM, the Georgia Tech student station, is known as "Ramblin' WREK Radio." During much of the 1970s and into the 1980s, WREK was primarily run via an automation system known as "George P." [Richard Musterer]
Episode # 46: "Most Improved Station"
- Frank Bonner reportedly remarked to radio host Ron Fineman that this episode was partly based on the real-life friction that was developing between the actors.
Episode # 47: "The Airplane Show"
- From this point on in the series, the opening credits include the names of all eight regular cast members, and a shorter version of the closing theme is used (with different footage of the Cincinnati skyline).
- In case you're wondering, the clips of the cast members in the revised opening credits are from the following episodes: "Bailey's Big Break" (Sandy), "Sparky" (Jump), "Les's Groupie" (Anderson), "The Americanization of Ivan" (Sanders), "Venus Rising" (Bonner), "Les's Groupie" (Smithers), "Les's Groupie" (Reid), and "A Family Affair" (Hesseman).
- The scenes with Les and Buddy were taped on location in Cincinnati. Originally, this episode was supposed to be shot entirely on location. Unfortunately, an actors' strike delayed the start of production and made it impossible to get the whole cast over to Cincinnati. Richard Sanders and Michael Fairman rewrote their original script so as to leave most of the characters in the radio station.
- The song that starts playing as Buddy says "we're going to have a Veteran's Day parade" is "Had Enough" by the Who.
- The pilot, Harold Johnson, who flew Richard Sanders around Cincinnati, is a former mayor of Moraine, Ohio (a Dayton suburb of 6,000). Sanders' stand-in turned green with the flying around, but Sanders himself loved it. Johnson spent a week filming the episode. [Andrew Steinberg]
- From 1975 to 1981 Johnson appeared seven days a week at the Kings Island amusement park in suburban Cincinnati doing a reenactment of the dogfight between Snoopy and the Red Baron. Johnson was the Baron. [Andrew Steinberg]
Episode # 48: "Jennifer Moves"
- "America's Favorite Radio Station" erroneously credits Rod Daniel as the director of this episode. It was actually directed by Linda Day.
Episode # 49: "Real Families"
- The "Real Families" show is partly a spoof of "Real People," a show that ran on NBC from 1979 to 1984. Basically, it specialized in showing clips of real-life people doing degrading, stupid, and humiliating things, while the host (Skip Stevenson) and hostess (Sarah Purcell) would comment on how strange or wacky these people were. The "investigative" aspect of "Real Families" spoofs CBS's own "60 Minutes." In "America's Radio Station," writer Peter Torokvei recalls that the idea for this episode came out of his dislike for the manipulative aspects of "60 Minutes."
- Peter Marshall, who plays "Real Families" host Phil Tarry, was the host of the original "Hollywood Squares."
- This episode received disappointing ratings, partly because some viewers mistook the "Real Families" introductory segment for a new show, assumed WKRP had been pre-empted, and changed the channel. The day after the episode aired, Peter Marshall received a call from his mother: "Peter, I love you, but I'm not wild about your new show."
- In the barbecuing scene, the props people mistakenly put in twice the required amount of barbecue fluid. The result was the explosion of smoke we see in the episode; Frank Bonner ad-libbed the line "That's good meat."
- Blooper: As Herb drives to work, you can see palm trees along the street in Cincinnati. [Andrew Steinberg]
- As Herb drives to work, the news on radio mentions President-elect Reagan, and Vice President-elect Bush. The election was on November 4, 1980, only 11 days prior to the airdate of the episode. [Andrew Steinberg]
Episode # 50: "The Baby"
- The hospital set comes from a CBS soap opera.
- According to "America's Favorite Radio Station," the bit where Johnny places the ether mask over his mouth was improvised by Howard Hesseman, who figured that Johnny was the sort of person who would welcome any opportunity to try new substances.
Episode # 51: "Hotel Oceanview"
- The Herb-Nikki plot is based on a sketch that this episode's writer, Steve Kampmann, wrote and performed in when he was in the Second City's stage show. In the sketch, a character played by Kampmann goes to a high school reunion where he picks up an attractive woman (played by Shelley Long) who claims to remember him. Only later does he learn that he's picked up a former male classmate who's had a sex change operation.
- "Mickey's music" is Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV565.
Episode # 52: "A Mile In My Shoes"
Episode # 53: "Bah, Humbug"
- This episode won "WKRP" its only Emmy award, for videotape editor Andy Ackerman. Ackerman later became a top sitcom director, most notably serving as the director of "Seinfeld" for several seasons.
Episode # 54: "Baby, It's Cold Inside"
Episode # 55: "The Painting"
Episode # 56: "Daydreams"
- Stage manager Buzz Sapien makes an uncredited, non-speaking cameo as "Buzzy," the servant in Herb's daydream.
Episode # 57: "Frog Story"
- Bob Dolman, the writer of this episode, was and is married to famous Toronto Second City comedienne Andrea Martin. Dolman was recruited to write for WKRP by Peter Torokvei, himself a former Toronto Second City member. Dolman later became a writer for the Second City's SCTV series.
Episode # 58: "Venus and the Man"
- Venus's backstory, continued: This was the first episode to establish that Venus was a former schoolteacher.
- This episode originally had no pre-titles "teaser" (the first scene with Venus and Cora in the booth was placed at the beginning of act one). Instead, the episode began with the entire cast and crew gathered before the camera, and Loni Anderson announcing: "Before we start the show, all of us at 'WKRP,' cast and crew, would like to say welcome home to the former hostages." (The episode was taped just after the release of the Americans who had been taken hostage in Iran.) The cast and crew then shouted in unison: "We missed you! Whooo!" and the "WKRP" title sequence began.
- This episode won Hugh Wilson the 1981 Humanitas Prize for 30- minute teleplays. The Humanitas Prizes are given in several categories for stories which "affirm the dignity of the human person probe the meaning of human life, enlighten the use of human freedom, reveal to each person the common humanity of every other person, to that love may come to permeate the human family and help liberate, enrich and unify human society." Other shows that have won this prize in the 30-minute category include "M*A*S*H," "The Wonder Years," "Taxi," and Wilson's "Frank's Place."
- This episode also garnered an Emmy nomination for its director, Rod Daniel, who lost. This might be a good time to note that "WKRP," like every other MTM comedy except "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," did very poorly at the Emmys. The show itself received three nominations for best comedy, but lost all three times; Howard Hesseman and Loni Anderson received two nominations each in the supporting categories, but lost both times.
Episodes # 59 & 60: "Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide"
- Rip Tide's wardrobe consists entirely of castoffs from Venus Flytrap's wardrobe.
Episode # 61: "Ask Jennifer"
Episode # 62: "I Am Woman"
- Johnny's line about seeing "different things" every time he sees FANTASIA refers to the film's reputation, with its bright colors and its opening sequence of abstract animation, as the ultimate drug-trip movie.
Episode # 63: "Secrets of Dayton Heights"
Episode # 64: "Out To Lunch"
Episode # 65: "A Simple Little Wedding"
- In this episode, Mr. Carlson and Carmen are celebrating their 25th anniversary, but two years earlier, in "Love Returns" (episode 8), Mr. Carlson says that they've been married 27 years.
Episode # 66: "Nothing To Fear But..."
Episode # 67: "Till Debt Do Us Part"
- "America's Favorite Radio Station" erroneously lists the title of this episode as "Till Dept Do Us Part."
Episode # 68: "Clean Up Radio Everywhere"
- Dr. Bob Halyers is clearly based on Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell; the actor who played him, Richard Paul, actually played Falwell in the movie "The People Vs. Larry Flynt."
- A week after this episode aired, Jerry Falwell declared on TV that WKRP had personally attacked him and that this was proof of Satan's influence in Hollywood. He also showed a clip from the episode to illustrate his point.
Episodes # 69 & 70: "An Explosive Affair"
- The shooting script of this episode is dated September 16, 1981.
- These were the first new "WKRP" episodes broadcast in the show's worst time slot yet: Wednesdays at 8:30, after "Mr. Merlin," a sitcom about Merlin, the wizard of King Arthur's court, being reincarnated in modern-day America. CBS executives had gotten it into their heads that WKRP's use of rock and roll music gave it "kid appeal" and accordingly placed it after a kids' show.
- Joyce Armor is named after a writer who co-wrote two episodes of WKRP.
- The song "She Was a Bad Mamma Jamma" by Carl Carlton, which Venus plays in the famous "phone cops" scene, inadvertently caused a furore at the head office of CBS in New York. After the episode aired, Grant Tinker informed Tim Reid that the CBS executives thought that "mamma jamma" might be slang for "motherfucker" and were accusing Reid and MTM of sneaking the obscene word onto the air in that form. Reid, who had simply been announcing the title of the song and claimed he had not heard of this potentially obscene meaning, was bemused at the thought of high-ranking TV executives sitting around discussing the term "mamma jamma."
Episode # 71: "The Union"
- Shooting script dated September 10, 1981.
- The song "Always Look For the Union Label" is the theme song of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees.
- Note that when the other on-air personalities appear, they don't speak (so they don't have to be paid a full acting fee), and they're mostly shot from behind (so we still won't know what most of them look like).
Episode # 72: "Rumors"
- Shooting script dated September 23, 1981.
- Note the "Sea Shepherd" poster in Bailey's apartment. Sea Shepherd is an organization devoted to "protecting the world's marine animals," mainly whales.
Episode # 73: "Straight From the Heart"
- Shooting script dated September 29, 1981.
Episode # 74: "Who's On First?"
- Shooting script dated October 6, 1981.
- Pat Perillo is named after production assistant Patricia Perillo.
Episode # 75: "Three Days of the Condo"
- Shooting script dated October 13, 1981.
- When Mr. Carlson mentions the Reds, he's complaining about the fact that, due to the split-season schedule caused by the 1981 baseball strike, the Reds did not qualify for the playoffs despite having the best overall record in baseball that year.
Episode # 76: "Jennifer and the Will"
- Shooting script dated October 27, 1981.
- Guest star Pat O'Brien was best known for his roles in many Warner Brothers films of the '30s and '40s. Loni Anderson credited O'Brien with encouraging her to go to Hollywood when she appeared in a summer stock play that O'Brien was starring in.
Episode # 77: "The Consultant"
- Shooting script dated November 4, 1981.
Episode # 78: "Love, Exciting and New"
- Shooting script dated November 12, 1981.
- The title comes from the first line of the theme song from The Love Boat.
- Colleen Camp, a film and TV actress playing herself, is trying to plug the 1981 movie They All Laughed, which was produced and directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starred, in addition to Camp, Audrey Hepburn, John Ritter and Ben Gazarra.
Episode # 79: "You Can't Go Out of Town Again"
- Shooting script dated November 17, 1981.
- The song that plays on the jukebox at the end is "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones.
Episode # 80: "Pills"
- Shooting script dated December 2, 1981.
- Johnny's line "Once the Republicans got in, everyone just switched to downers" may have been inspired by a famous passage from Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas: "It is worth noting, historically, that downers came in with Nixon."
Episode # 81: "Changes"
- Shooting script dated December 8, 1981.
- Tom Dreesen, who plays Rick Jesperson, was formerly Tim Reid's comedy partner in what was billed as the first black-white comedy team, "Tim and Tom." After Reid began to concentrate on his acting career, Dreesen became well-known as a solo act, often opening for Frank Sinatra.
Episode # 82: "Jennifer and Johnny's Charity"
- Shooting script dated December 15, 1981.
- The dress Jennifer wears in act 1 appears to be the same design that Suzanne Pleshette wore in several episodes of MTM's "The Bob Newhart Show."
Episode # 83: "I'll Take Romance"
- Shooting script dated January 5, 1982.
- Les's line "Out of the tree of life I just picked me a plumb" is the first line of the famous song "The Best Is Yet To Come" by Carolyn Leigh and Cy Coleman.
Episode # 84: "Circumstantial Evidence"
- Shooting script dated February 17, 1982.
- This episode was originally planned as a two-parter, but CBS cut back on the number of episodes ordered for the season and refused to allow the extra half-hour. A lot of material had to be cut from the script, and an abrupt deus ex machina ending was tacked on. It would be interesting to know how the episode would have ended if there had been more time to resolve the plot.
- The song playing in the elevator near the end is "High Hopes" by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen.
Episode # 85: "Fire"
- Shooting script dated January 14, 1982.
Episode # 86: "Dear Liar"
- Shooting script dated January 21, 1982.
- The Washington Post reporter Bailey and Andy refer to is Janet Cooke, who won awards and acclaim for her story about a seven year-old drug addict. It turned out that she'd invented the story and the child, based on an amalgamation of several stories about children and drugs.
Episode # 87: "The Creation of Venus"
- Shooting script dated February 12, 1982.
- This episode was written in part to clarify the confusing backstory of Venus (at various times in the series we're told he was the #1 DJ in New Orleans, a schoolteacher, a minor league baseball player, the leader of a rock band and a deserter from the army).
- Suzanne Schaller points out an inconsistency with a previous episode: In "Who Is Gordon Sims," Andy didn't seem to know Venus's real name. In the flashback sequence from this episode, he does.
- In the flashback scenes at the radio station, almost everyone is dressed as he or she was in the corresponding scenes from the pilot episode. The exceptions are Jennifer, Herb (who wears the same coat as in the pilot, but a more typically Herb-like pair of trousers) and Mama Carlson. Mama Carlson, of course, also doesn't look the same as she did in the pilot...
- Blooper: The closing scene of the episode shows Andy slamming his hand onto the wall, as if he's turning out the lights in the booth. The lights do go out, but Andy clearly missed the light switch by a country mile! [Matt J. McCullar]
Episode # 88: "The Impossible Dream"
- Shooting script dated February 12, 1982.
- According to "America's Favorite Radio Station," writers Richard Sanders and Michael Fairman originally intended this episode to have a guest appearance by Walter Cronkite, who had just retired from CBS news. CBS apparently vetoed the idea of using Cronkite (who had already made a similar guest appearance on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"), and the episode was rewritten into its current form.
Episode # 89: "To Err Is Human"
- Shooting script dated February 25, 1982.
- Though "Up and Down the Dial" is the last episode in production order, "To Err Is Human" was in fact the last episode to be taped.
- Perhaps sensing that this might be their last show together, the entire cast showed up for the last rehearsal of this episode in formal evening dress as a gesture of respect for the series. A cast photograph taken at that rehearsal can be found on the "America's Favorite Radio Station" website.
Episode # 90: "Up and Down the Dial"
- Shooting script dated March 4, 1982.
- The last episode of "WKRP In Cincinnati."
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