This was originally posted September 18, 2013
“WKRP in Cincinnati” debuted 35 years ago today on CBS, a sitcom about the wacky goings on at a struggling radio station.
While the show only lasted four years, it flourished in syndication and is well remembered for the classic turkey giveaway episode where bumbling station manager Arthur Carlson uttered the line: “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”
What makes the comedy resonate for long-time Atlantans is the fact the creator Hugh Wilson based it loosely on his interactions with the folks at 790/WQXI-AM, the top 40 station during its heyday in the early 1970s. He was an ad copyrighter at the time in Atlanta.
I will cite some work I did two years ago when I interviewed Loni Anderson, who played the smarter than she looked secretary Jennifer Marlowe.
Wilson has said the late, wacky “Skinny” Bobby Harper was the model for Johnny Fever. Fashion-challenged Herb Tarlock was a stand-in for long-time Atlanta radio executive Clarke Brown. (”I dressed like a total schmuck,” Brown said Thursday. “But that was the fashion back then.”) And Jerry Blum, the former general manager at QXI, was the inspiration for Carlson. (There’s even a physical resemblance between Blum and actor Gordon Jump.)
John Kiesewetter, the radio/TV blogger in Cincinnati, noted the anniversaryand asked his readers to imagine what the characters would be doing today, 35 years later.
Feel free to fill in your blanks on what Venus Fly Trap, Johnny Fever, Andy, Jennifer and Herb would be up to in 2013.
And here’s a segment of that “Turkeys Away” episode:
Great theme song, too!