WKRP in Cincinnati

Season 1 Episode 1

Pilot (1)

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Sep 18, 1978 on CBS
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Andy Travis, a young program director from Santa Fe, takes over at 16th-ranked (out of 18) WKRP, a "beautiful music" radio station in Cincinnati. Andy soon wins the confidence of station manager Mr. Carlson, who is terrified of his mother, the station's owner. But Andy discovers that news director Les Nessman and sales manager Herb Tarlek were both after the program director's job and resent his appointment. He also meets receptionist Jennifer Marlowe, who spends most of her time watering her plants and fending off Herb's sexual advances, and morning disc jockey Johnny Caravella, who was a top DJ in Los Angeles until he was fired for saying the word "booger" on the air. Andy's first act as program director is to change the format of WKRP to top 40 rock and roll. In response, Johnny adopts the new, energetic on-air persona of "Dr. Johnny Fever." Andy has other plans, including an expanded role for shy but intelligent continuity director Bailey Quarters, and the hiring of nighttime DJ "Venus Flytrap." But his job is in jeopardy when Mr. Carlson's mother gets her first hearing of the new format.moreless

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  • Meet the gang of WKRP in Cincinatti.

    Hired to be the new program director at WKRP in Cincinatti, Andy Travis quits his job in Santa Fe, New Mexico and takes up residence in Cincinatti. Upon arriving he meets Jennifer, the beautiful secretary, Herb Tarlek, the fast- talking sales manager, and Les Nessman the nervous news director. He meets Arthur Carlson (The Big Guy to the staff), the station manager who is under the thumb of his mother, the station owner. Andy then meets Johnny, the morning disc jockey who plays slow "elevator" music on his show. He seems to be pretty forgetful and falls asleep in the middle of conversations. After Andy gets settled, and gets better responses from Herb and Les, he changes WKRP's format to rock and roll. Johnny becomes Dr. Johnny Fever. Andy, Herb, Les and Bailey, whose job is yet unknown, have a meeting on how to get the station working better. Afterwards, Carlson runs in, gets Herb and Les and tells Andy that he's fired. Apparently, Carlson's mother heard Johnny on the air and is on her way. When she gets there, she threatens to sell the station if things don't get better. When Andy wants to quit, Carlson stands up for Andy and threatens to quit. Mama Carlson is so impressed with her son that she decides to give Andy a chance to do this. Afterwards, Venus Flytrap, a friend that Andy has just hired, walks in as the new night jockey. Andy and Carlson make peace and things seem to be off to a good start for this very funny show.moreless
Gary Sandy

Gary Sandy

Andy Travis

Gordon Jump

Gordon Jump

Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson

Loni Anderson

Loni Anderson

Jennifer Marlowe

Richard Sanders

Richard Sanders

Les Nessman

Tim Reid

Tim Reid

Gordon "Venus Flytrap" Sims

Frank Bonner

Frank Bonner

Herb Tarlek

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • 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.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • 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.

  • NOTES (2)

    • 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.