WKRP in Cincinnati

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WKRP in Cincinnati
WKRP in Cincinnati.jpg
Genre Sitcom
Created by Hugh Wilson
Starring Gary Sandy
Gordon Jump
Loni Anderson
Richard Sanders
Frank Bonner
Jan Smithers
Tim Reid
Howard Hesseman
Theme music composerTom Wells
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes90 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producerHugh Wilson
ProducersRod Daniel
Bill Dial
Blake Hunter
Steven Kampmann
Peter Torokvei
Hugh Wilson
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time24–25 minutes
Production company MTM Enterprises
Release
Original network CBS
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 18, 1978 (1978-09-18) 
April 21, 1982 (1982-04-21)
Chronology
Followed by The New WKRP in Cincinnati
Bailey Quarters (Jan Smithers) and Andy Travis (Gary Sandy) WKRP Bailey and Andy.jpg
Bailey Quarters (Jan Smithers) and Andy Travis (Gary Sandy)
Les Nessman (Richard Sanders) and Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman) in the studio WKRP Les and Johnny.jpg
Les Nessman (Richard Sanders) and Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman) in the studio
Fever flirts with Jennifer Marlowe (Loni Anderson) WKRP Jennifer and Johnny.jpg
Fever flirts with Jennifer Marlowe (Loni Anderson)

WKRP in Cincinnati is an American sitcom television series that features the misadventures of the staff of a struggling fictional radio station in Cincinnati, Ohio. The show was created by Hugh Wilson and was based upon his experiences working in advertising sales at Top 40 radio station WQXI in Atlanta. Many of the characters and even some of the stories (including that of the Season 1 episode "Turkeys Away") are based on people and events at WQXI. [1] Wilson once told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he selected WKRP as the call sign to stand for C-R-A-P. [2]

Contents

The ensemble cast consists of Gary Sandy (as Andy Travis), Howard Hesseman (Dr. Johnny Fever), Gordon Jump (Arthur Carlson), Loni Anderson (Jennifer Marlowe), Tim Reid (Venus Flytrap), Jan Smithers (Bailey Quarters), Richard Sanders (Les Nessman) and Frank Bonner (Herb Tarlek). [3]

The series won a Humanitas Prize and received 10 Emmy Award nominations, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series. Andy Ackerman won an Emmy Award for Videotape Editing in Season 3.[ citation needed ]

WKRP premiered on September 18, 1978 on the CBS television network and aired for four seasons and 90 episodes, ending on April 21, 1982. Starting in the middle of the second season, CBS repeatedly moved the show around its schedule, contributing to lower ratings and its eventual cancellation.

When WKRP went into syndication, it became an unexpected success. [4] For the next decade, it was one of the most popular sitcoms in syndication, outperforming many programs that had been more successful in prime time, including all the other MTM Enterprises sitcoms.[ citation needed ]

Jump, Sanders and Bonner reprised their roles, appearing as regular characters in a spin-off/sequel series, The New WKRP in Cincinnati , which ran from 1991 to 1993 in syndication. Hesseman, Reid and Anderson also reprised their roles as guest stars.

Premise

The station's new program director, Andy Travis, tries to turn around struggling radio station WKRP by switching its format from dated easy-listening music to rock and roll, despite the well-meaning efforts of the mostly incompetent staff: bumbling station manager Arthur Carlson, greasy sales manager Herb Tarlek and clueless news director Les Nessman. To help bolster ratings, Travis hires a new disc jockey, New Orleans native Gordon Sims (who takes on the on-air persona of Venus Flytrap) and allows spaced-out former major-market DJ Dr. Johnny Fever, already doing mornings in the easy-listening format as John Caravella, to be himself. Rounding out the cast are receptionist Jennifer Marlowe and junior employee Bailey Quarters. Ruthless business tycoon Lillian Carlson is the station's owner and the mother of Arthur Carlson.

Characters

Main ensemble

Other characters

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 22September 18, 1978June 4, 1979
2 24September 17, 1979March 31, 1980
3 22November 1, 1980April 12, 1981
4 22October 7, 1981April 21, 1982
Special 1980

Timeslots and success

WKRP in Cincinnati debuted in 1978 in CBS's Monday 8 p.m. timeslot, competing against ABC's Welcome Back, Kotter and NBC's top-20 show Little House on the Prairie. Initially receiving poor ratings, WKRP was put on hiatus after only eight episodes, even though they included some of the most famous of the series, including "Turkeys Away." But owing to good reviews and positive fan reaction, especially from disc jockeys, who immediately hailed it as the first show that realistically portrayed the radio business, CBS brought WKRP back without any cast changes.

WKRP was given a new timeslot, one of the best on the network, following M*A*S*H . This allowed creator Hugh Wilson to move away the farcical radio-based stories that CBS wanted and to start telling stories that, while not necessarily dramatic, were more low-key and character-based. To allow the ensemble cast to mingle more, the set was expanded. A previously unseen communal office area ("the bullpen") was added to accommodate scenes with the entire cast.

Partway through the second season, the show was moved back to its original earlier time. CBS executives wanted to free up the prized post-M*A*S*H slot for House Calls (with former M*A*S*H star Wayne Rogers). They also felt that the rock and roll music and the sex appeal of Loni Anderson were better-suited to the earlier slot, which was mostly aimed at young people. The mid-season timeslot change did not affect the show's success; WKRP finished at No. 22 in the ratings for its second year. For the next two seasons, the writers and producers often fought with CBS over the show's content in the so-called family hour.

Starting with the second season, CBS moved WKRP around repeatedly, and the show lost nearly 2.5 million viewers on average for each of four timeslot changes in the 1979–80 season. [8]

After the fourth season, the network declined to renew the show. The final first-run episode of WKRP aired on April 21, 1982 and ranked No. 7 in the weekly Nielsen ratings, though the series had already been canceled.

Production

WKRP was videotaped in Hollywood before a live studio audience at KTLA's Goldenwest Videotape Division, later moving to the CBS Studio Center lot in Studio City. [9]

Fact vs. fiction

"Real" WKRP people

While Andy Travis received his name and some personality elements from a cousin of creator Hugh Wilson, [10] he was based primarily on innovative program director Mikel Herrington, [11] who also was the inspiration for the character Jeff Dugan in the 1978 film FM , written by Ezra Sacks, who had worked at KMET. [12] [13] Dr. Johnny Fever was based on a DJ named "Skinny" Bobby Harper at WQXI/790 in Atlanta, Georgia in 1968. [14] WKRP writer Bill Dial worked with Harper at WQXI, which is considered Dial's inspiration for the show. [14] Coincidentally, Harper had previously worked at Cincinnati AM Top 40 powerhouse WSAI in 1964, before moving to 11 other stations, including seven in Atlanta. [14] In 1997, Bobby Harper told WSB's Condace Pressley, "He went on record as pointing out which ones, including myself, that he based the characters on. [That recognition] was a nice little thing. You know? That was nice. I appreciated that." [14] The Carlsons were a pastiche of Jerry Blum, WQXI's longtime general manager. Mrs. Carlson inherited Blum's brashness while Arthur borrowed his nickname "Big Guy," sense of style, and some of his unorthodox promotions (including the turkey drop). [15]

Transmission tower

Although the show aired on CBS, the self-supporting transmission tower seen at the beginning of WKRP in Cincinnati actually belongs to Cincinnati's NBC affiliate, WLWT. [16]

Studios and offices

In the show, WKRP's offices and studios are in the Osgood R. Flimm Building, an art deco office building. When mentioned, the exact floor varies: in Season 1's episode "Les on a Ledge", WKRP is on the 9th floor, but in Season 4's episode "Fire", it is on the 14th; the entranceway door is shown as 1412. The building shown during the show's opening credits is actually the Cincinnati Enquirer Building at 617 Vine Street in downtown Cincinnati. [17]

Real stations with similar branding

Cincinnati has two radio stations with call letters similar to WKRP. WKRC, an AM station that had a "middle of the road" music format when the series debuted, did not object to its use of WKRP, saying that it was the best publicity that they had ever had, and it was free; [18] it currently brands itself as "55KRC". [19] WKRQ is an FM station with a similar "contemporary hit radio" format; its primary branding is "Q102." [20]

Other stations have adopted similar branding in reference to the series. In 1986, a Salt Lake City FM station (now KUMT) changed its calls letters to KRPN, and branded itself as WKRP, using the similarity of the spoken letter "N" to the word "in" for a sound-alike station identification: "W KRPN Salt Lake City". [21] [22] [23] In 2008, Cincinnati television station WBQC-LD promoted its conversion to digital broadcasting by rebranding itself "WKRP-TV". [24] In 2015, a low-power FM station in Raleigh, North Carolina began broadcasting as WKRP-LP. [25]

Music

Musical themes

WKRP had two musical themes, one opening and the other closing the show.

The opening theme, a soft rock/pop number called "WKRP in Cincinnati Main Theme," was composed by Tom Wells, with lyrics by series creator Hugh Wilson, and was performed by Steve Carlisle. [26] [27] [28] An urban legend circulated at the time that Richard Sanders (who had comparable vocal characteristics to those of Carlisle) had recorded the song. Wilson stated in the commentary for the first season's DVD set that this was not true. Sanders would later "sing" the lyrics in a promo spot on VH1 for The New WKRP in Cincinnati that parodied the U2 song "Numb."

The closing theme was a different song with more of a hard rock sound performed by Atlanta musician Jim Ellis, played over scenes from the episodes followed by a still photo of the Cincinnati skyline. [29] [30] Ellis recorded the song as a demonstration for Wilson, and as he had not yet written lyrics for it, Ellis mumbled nonsense words. Wilson chose to use the demo version because he found the gibberish lyrics funny and a satire on the unintelligible lyrics of many rock songs. Wilson also knew that the lyrics would not be heard clearly in any event, as a CBS announcer always talked over the closing credits of the network's shows. [31]

A longer version of the original theme song was released in 1979 on a 45-rpm vinyl single on the MCA Records label. It peaked at 65 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1981 [32] and at 29 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1982. [33]

Music licensing

The show's use of Blondie's "Heart of Glass" was widely credited with helping the song become a major U.S. hit, and the band's record label Chrysalis Records presented the producers with a gold record award for the song's album Parallel Lines . The gold record can be seen hanging on the wall in the "bullpen" set in many episodes.

The songs were often tied into episode plots, and some pieces of music were even used as running gags. For example, the doorbell at Jennifer's penthouse apartment played "Fly Me to the Moon" (which was later replaced by "Beautiful Dreamer" for copyright reasons).

Wilson has commented that WKRP was videotaped rather than filmed because at the time, music-licensing fees were lower for videotaped programs, a loophole that was intended to accommodate variety shows. [34] [35] Music-licensing deals cut at the time of production covered only a limited number of years, [36] but when the show entered syndication shortly after its 1982 cancellation, most of the original music remained intact because the licensing deals were still active. [37] After the licenses had expired, later syndicated versions of the show did not feature the music as first broadcast, with stock production music inserted in place of the original songs to avoid paying additional royalties. In some cases (such as during scenes with dialogue over background music), some of the characters' lines were dubbed by soundalike actors, a practice evident in all prints of the show issued since the early 1990s, including those used for its late-1990s run on Nick at Nite. [36] [37]

The expense of procuring licenses for the original music delayed release of a DVD set for years. [38] When a Season 1 set was finally released, much of the music was again replaced and the soundalike vocal dubs were present. Some scenes were shortened or cut entirely, [39] but some deleted scenes that had not been included in the original broadcast were added.[ citation needed ]

Home media

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the first season of WKRP on DVD in Region 1 in April 2007. However sales of the set were poor, and Fox released no further seasons.

In May 2014, Shout! Factory acquired rights to the series for DVD release. [40] Shout! had planned to include all of the copyrighted music that originally aired on the show, [41] but was only able to obtain rights for 111 of the original musical artists. A disclaimer later stated, "In a few cases, it was simply impossible to get the rights." [42] Fans of the show compiled lists documenting that the re-release featured approximately 85% of the series' original soundtrack. Almost all of the dialogue dubs done for the 1990s syndication airings were removed and the original dialogue was restored. [43] [44] [45] [46]

The complete series became available online in October 2014. [47] In March 2015 Shout! released individual sets for Seasons 1 and 2. [48] Season 3 was released in July 2015 [49] and the final season was released in November 2015. [50]

DVD SeasonEp #Release date
Season 122March 17, 2015
Season 223March 17, 2015
Season 321July 14, 2015
Season 422November 10, 2015
Complete Series88October 28, 2014

The Shout! Factory DVD releases also present both the second-season episode "Filthy Pictures" and the third-season episode "Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide" in their original hour-long formats instead of the syndicated two-part versions, bringing the episode count from 90 episodes to 88 episodes. [51]

Related Research Articles

Dr. Johnny Fever Character on the television situation comedy WKRP in Cincinnati

Dr. Johnny Fever is a fictional character on the American television sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. He was inspired by Atlanta DJ Skinny Bobby Harper, who previously had been a DJ on Cincinnati's Top 40 station WSAI. The character was portrayed by Howard Hesseman.

Gordon Jump American actor

Alexander Gordon Jump was an American actor best known as the clueless yet occasionally wise radio station manager Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson in the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati and the incompetent "Chief of Police Tinkler" in the sitcom Soap. Jump guest starred on a two-part episode of the 1980s sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, in which he portrayed a pedophile who attempts to molest main characters Arnold and his friend, Dudley. He also played the "Maytag Repairman" in commercials for Maytag brand appliances, from 1989 until his retirement from the role in July 2003.

Howard Hesseman American actor

Howard Hesseman is an American actor. He played DJ Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati, Captain Pete Lassard in Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, Sam Royer on One Day at a Time, and schoolteacher Charlie Moore on Head of the Class.

Frank Bonner was an American actor and television director widely known for his role as sales manager Herb Tarlek on the television sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati.

Richard Kinard Sanders is an American actor and screenwriter. He played quirky news anchorman Les Nessman on the CBS sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–1982).

WQXI, "Radio Korea", is a radio station licensed to the city of Atlanta broadcasting at a frequency of 790 kHz. The station has a power of 28,000 watts in the daytime, and 1,000 watts at night. WQXI's signal is non-directional during the daytime, and directional at night. As of 2009, the station broadcast in the IBiquity HD Radio AM hybrid digital mode during daytime hours.

Bailey Quarters Character on the television situation comedy WKRP in Cincinnati

Bailey Quarters is a character on the television sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. She was played by actress Jan Smithers, and was based on creator Hugh Wilson's wife.

The New WKRP in Cincinnati is an American sitcom television series that aired in first-run syndication from September 7, 1991, to May 22, 1993, as a sequel to the original CBS sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–82). As with the original WKRP, MTM Enterprises produced the show.

Bert Parks American actor and singer

Bert Parks was an American actor, singer, and radio and television announcer, best known for hosting the annual Miss America telecast from 1955 to 1979.

Linda Carlson American actress

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<i>Hello, Larry</i> American television series

Hello, Larry is an American sitcom television series created by Dick Bensfield and Perry Grant, starring McLean Stevenson. It aired on NBC from January 26, 1979, to April 30, 1980. Its broadcast run consisted of 38 episodes over two seasons.

WKRC (AM) Talk radio station in Cincinnati

WKRC is a commercial AM radio station owned by iHeartMedia and licensed to Cincinnati, Ohio. Broadcasting under the branding of 55KRC, the station airs a talk radio format. The studios are on Montgomery Road in Cincinnati, and the transmitter is in Cold Spring, Kentucky. WKRC operates at 5,000 watts by day and 1,000 watts at night.

Hugh Hamilton Wilson Jr. was an American film director, writer and television showrunner. He is best known as the creator of the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati and Frank's Place, and as the director of the film comedies Police Academy and The First Wives Club.

Herbert Ruggles Tarlek, Jr. is a character on the television situation comedy WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–1982). He was played by actor Frank Bonner, who reprised the role for the sequel series The New WKRP in Cincinnati.

Jennifer Marlowe Character on the television situation comedy WKRP in Cincinnati

Jennifer Elizabeth Marlowe is a character on the CBS sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–82). She was played by actress Loni Anderson, who received three Golden Globe Award and two Emmy Award nominations for playing the character.

Les Nessman Character on the television situation comedy WKRP in Cincinnati

Les Nessman is a fictional character on the television situation comedy WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–82) played by Richard Sanders. He reprised his role in the sequel series, The New WKRP in Cincinnati.

Andy Travis Character on the television situation comedy WKRP in Cincinnati

Andy Travis is a fictional character on the television situation comedy WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–82). He was played by Gary Sandy.

Venus Flytrap is a character on the television situation comedy WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–82), played by Tim Reid. He is the evening and early night-time disc jockey at WKRP, and during the course of the series he also becomes the assistant program director.

Arthur Carlson, aka "The Big Guy" is a fictional character on the television situation comedy WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–82), the general manager of the low-rated Cincinnati radio station WKRP. The character was also a regular on the "revival" series, The New WKRP in Cincinnati (1991–93), still working as general manager of WKRP. He was played by Gordon Jump in both shows.

References

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