WKRP in Cincinnati

CBS (ended 1982)
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  • show Description
  • WKRP in Cincinnati, an MTM production, was created by Hugh Wilson, who had previously written scripts for MTM's The Bob Newhart Show and served as a producer on the short-lived MTM production The Tony Randall Show. MTM, which had not had a big comedy hit since Rhoda several years earlier, was counting on WKRP to revive the company's reputation as the best producer of situation comedies. WKRP debuted in a tough slot, 8:00 on Monday nights, followed by a forgettable and short-lived show called People. Despite strong reviews for the pilot episode, and some positive buzz for an episode called "Turkeys Away," WKRP did poorly in the ratings and was put on hiatus by CBS with five episodes still unaired. Most reports at the time suggested that this "hiatus" was likely to be permanent, but CBS surprised many by bringing the show back in January of 1979, again on Monday nights but this time following the long-running hit M*A*S*H. Though CBS claimed that the series had been "retooled" in the interim, not much had changed except the construction of a new set (the "bullpen" with desks for Les, Bailey, Herb and the DJs) and a slight shift in emphasis: Whereas earlier episodes had focused mostly on Andy Travis, Mr. Carlson and Johnny Fever, WKRP re-emerged as a true ensemble series in which all eight regular characters were of roughly equal importance. In this new time slot, WKRP was a hit, part of a high-quality CBS Monday night lineup of M*A*S*H followed by three series from MTM: WKRP In Cincinnati, The White Shadow, and Lou Grant. Loni Anderson, as Jennifer, became a national sex symbol, while Howard Hesseman as Johnny Fever almost matched her in popularity. Early in 1980, however, CBS moved WKRP away from Monday nights, trying to find a night where it could anchor an uneven lineup. Unfortunately some CBS executives apparently did not care for WKRP, and other executives mistook it for a kids' show based on the rock n' roll music and loud clothes. Thus they had a habit of preceding and following it with shows that were much more lowbrow than the MTM-style humor of WKRP -- for example, on one night WKRP was followed by the Alice spin-off, Flo. In time slots like these, WKRP's ratings dropped badly. The time-slot changes eventually became more frequent and more ill-considered as CBS looked for a spot where WKRP would finally fit in. The show also seems to have received only limited support from MTM (particularly after the departure of MTM founder Grant Tinker, who left to run NBC), which was busy conquering the world of hour long drama with shows like Hill Street Blues. In the summer of 1982, CBS announced that WKRP had been canceled. To the surprise of almost everyone, WKRP finally became a breakout hit when its 90 episodes were released to syndication; its long life in syndication eventually made it, according to Grant Tinker, the biggest moneymaker in the history of MTM. Some cast members remarked that WKRP was a hit in reruns because viewers finally new where to find it.moreless

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  • Episode Guide
  • S 4 : Ep 22

    Up and Down the Dial

    Aired 4/21/82

  • S 4 : Ep 21

    To Err is Human

    Aired 4/14/82

  • S 4 : Ep 20

    The Impossible Dream

    Aired 4/7/82

  • S 4 : Ep 19

    The Creation of Venus

    Aired 3/31/82

  • S 4 : Ep 18

    Dear Liar

    Aired 3/24/82

  • Cast & Crew
  • Gary Sandy

    Andy Travis

  • Gordon Jump

    Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson

  • Loni Anderson

    Jennifer Marlowe

  • Richard Sanders

    Les Nessman

  • Tim Reid

    Gordon "Venus Flytrap" Sims

  • Photos (2)
  • Top Contributor
  • mrdivot

    User Score: 293


  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (274)

    • Bailey: Hi, Johnny. Johnny: Bailey, you've come to feed me.

    • Andy: I see before me a very shrewd manager. Carlson: True. Yeah. Andy: A man smart enough to hire the right people. Carlson: That's very astute. Andy: And then you just step aside and let them run the operation. Carlson: Son of a gun. You read me like a book.

    • Andy: Mr. Carlson, we talked on the phone, right, and you promised me a free hand to run this station. Carlson: I should never use the phone. Cut that thing in half. Just use it for listening.

    • Jennifer: Would you like to see the Big Guy? Andy: The Big Guy? Jennifer: The Skipper, the Chief, the Head Honcho, the jerk who runs this place.

    • Herb: Morning, Jennifer. Jennifer: Morning, Herb. Herb: Any calls? Jennifer: No. Herb: Messages? Jennifer: Nope. Herb: Mail? Jennifer: None. Herb: Okay, how about lunch? Jennifer: No lunch either. Herb: Dinner? Jennifer: Busy. Herb: Okay, how about later, my place? Jennifer: You're married, Herb. Herb: Oh, yeah.

    • Andy: I have only been in this town for two weeks. I'm living in an apartment that doesn't have any furniture. I've been fighting with your mother. I've been fighting with-with-with Les, I've been fighting with Herb. I don't even know where my laundry is, sir. Carlson: Oh, settle down. Andy: Frankly, sir, I'm...I'm just as tired of all this as you are. Carlson: Yeah. Heh. Well, I guess so. Listen, for whatever it's worth, I don't know where my laundry is either.

    • Carlson: Boy, this is a fine kettle of fish we got ourselves into this time. It's like being up to your belt buckle in alligators.

    • (Jennifer's radio is playing gentle classical music) Mr. Carlson: Hey, is that us? Jennifer: No, this is us. (changes stations) Johnny: Hang onto your brains, fellow babies, this is Doctor Johnny Fever and have I got a contest for you! First prize is, you don't have to die! Second prize, a pocket comb!

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    Notes (133)

    • The transmission tower seen in the opening credits of WKRP in Cincinnati actually belonged to Cincinnati's NBC affiliate, WLWT; it had been located at 2222 Chickasaw St. in Cincinnati.

    • Music Changes: A Ted Nugent song (the very first rock song Johnny Fever played on WKRP) is replaced with generic music. (Interestingly, though, the Nugent song is intact when this scene is repeated in two other episodes--"Mama's Review" and "The Creation of Venus." Which proves nothing except that the process of licensing music for this package seems to have been pretty haphazard.) At least that's Howard Hesseman's real voice saying "booger." In the tag, the song Venus plays, "Dance Dance Dance" by Chic, has been replaced.

    • Music Changes: All songs have been replaced with generic music.

    • Songs: "That Old Time Rock n' Roll" by Bob Seger; "Shattered" by The Rolling Stones.

    • Music Changes: The song Johnny plays at the beginning, "They Called It Rock" by Nick Lowe, has been replaced. The generic music for Les' introductory fanfare has been replaced with different generic music.

    • Tim Reid and Jan Smithers do not appear in this episode.

    • The WKRP writers hung the "Welcome Scum" sign on their balcony right when CBS was welcoming and schmoozing with very important executives. Some very agitated people from CBS ran upstairs and told them to take down the sign.

    • Original Music: "Got Enough Love" and "Betcha Can't Dance" by Detective

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    Trivia (37)

    • We learn Jennifer Marlowe's middle name is "Elizabeth".

    • The last song Johnny introduces prior to the station's change in format to rock n' roll is The Halleluiah Tabernacle Choir's version of the Paul Anka hit "You're Having My Baby," or in this case "You're Having Our Baby."

    • When Johnny Fever first plays rock music 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.

    • 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.

    • In this pilot episode, WKRP is a 50,000 watt station. In the series, it was changed to a "more realistic" 5,000 watts.

    • The cops/firefighters are called to the 9th floor of the Flimm building, but the WKRP door shows suite 1412.

    • 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.

    • In the episode Les states that the helicopter is pulling a banner. Helicopters cannot pull banners behind them due to the tail rotor section of the helicopter. They actually use a tower system where the banner, normally square in shape, hangs directly below the helicopter, 150 feet below, with dead weight attached to the bottom of the banner to keep it from getting caught in an updraft.

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    Allusions (33)

    • Les: "Oh, the Humanity!"

      Les' broadcast of the turkey drop is partly a spoof of Herbert Morrison's famous live broadcast of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster for WLS in Chicago, which is where the line "Oh, the humanity!" comes from.

    • Mr. Carlson: This is like losing Pete Rose! 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.

    • Andy's lines after his accident of, "There's no place like home" and "Anyone seen my little dog?" are references to The Wizard of Oz.

    • Johnny: "It's a lovely day today, so whatever you've got to do..." 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.

    • The episode title coincides with Player's 1978 song, "Baby Come Back."

    • Lucille's statement, "I've been unfaithful to you. Not in body, but in spirit. I had impure thoughts at the kiln," refers to President Carter's then-famous statement that he had sometimes "committed adultery in [his] heart."

    • The title of this episode copies that of the mid-70's made-for-TV movie, I Want to Keep My Baby!.

    • Mr. Ferryman, the owner of the chain of funeral homes, refers to Charon, the ferryman who carried the dead across the River Styx in Greek mythology.

    Show More Allusions
  • Fan Reviews (21)
  • Before my time, but still a classic!

    By frankwm1988, Nov 14, 2015

  • Been there!

    By JimC39, Aug 14, 2015

  • Solid show about pre-internet/iPod radio

    By imsoconfused, Aug 11, 2014

  • WKRP

    By JuliaWilkinso, Jul 30, 2012

  • One of the all time best sitcoms..!

    By maritimer00, Jun 29, 2005