Remember “WKRP in Cincinnati”?
Who remembers “WKRP in Cincinnati”? The hit sitcom ran from 1978 to 1982 and was nominated multiple times for the Golden Globes and Primetime Emmys. It featured a cast of oddball characters working at a humble radio station that had fallen on hard times. When a new programming director, played by Gary Sandy, switched the station from the big band sound to rock and roll, sparks flew! The series was known for its fast-and-loose writing that combined great humor with heart warming moments.
Remember Les Nessman (played to perfection by Richard Sanders) and his eternal search for journalism validation and the Copper Cob Award? How about Loni Anderson as the smart and gorgeous receptionist Jennifer Marlowe? We can’t forget Howard Hesseman as Doctor Johnny Fever and his zoned out attitude!
Even though the show ran on TV long before the internet was around, it lives on in a beloved infamy thanks to social media. Scenes from the episode “Turkeys Away” crop up regularly as fans remember the hilarity of a radio station promotion gone horribly wrong. Who can forget the moment where Gordon Jump as Arthur Carlson conceives the hilarious idea of a turkey drop as a Thanksgiving promotion? Remember his line? “…As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” And of course, Les Nesmann was astounding as the newscaster who added his own horror to the scene with a spoofy reference to the incident of the Hindenburg disaster. As he gazed up into the sky, his face being the only cue that TV viewers had, he described the scene as it unfolded: the helicopter, the turkeys being released, and their plummet to the ground of the supermarket parking lot. He declared, “Oh, the humanity!”
The show featured several well known actors who went on to many other shows including Gordon Jump, Loni Anderson, Tim Reid and Howard Hesseman. Their characters live on because of modern technology that didn’t exist during the time of the show’s run. Fans have access now to dvd sets, digital media, and Facebook memes. Internet technology has given renewed life to many older shows that have been replaced by the latest in sitcoms, drama, and more. Do these old shows stand up to the passage of time? While tight jeans and disco references may not always make sense today, the humor of “WKRP in Cincinnati” definitely stands up to more modern TV shows.
Skewering office dynamics, the show featured too many funny scenes to list, poignant scenes of character growth, and social ironies that included backhanded cultural references. At the time of the seventies and eighties, having a beautiful and sexy female character who was also intelligent broke sitcom rules. Some aspects of the show have since become somewhat dated, but the characters and humor live on for loyal fans. Whether an episode focused on office romance, politics, personal issues, or funny send ups of seventies American culture, it warmed the hearts of millions of viewers.