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WKRP in Cincinnati (TV Series 1978–1982) Poster

(1978–1982)

Trivia

The ending theme song, a cool little rock ditty, was done by a group of studio musicians in Atlanta, GA. The words are unintelligible for a very simple reason - there are no words! The vocal was basically a "scratch" track, i.e., a vocal track recorded solely to help the musicians and the show's producers get a feel for the song and the lyric melody. But the producers liked it as is, and it was never changed, so there aren't any words, just meaningless gibberish!
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The character of Herb Tarlek was known for wearing very tacky suits. In one episode, after Venus sees Herb wearing a particularly outrageous suit, he remarks, "Somewhere out there there's a Volkswagen with no seats." In fact, one of Herb's suits actually WAS made from the seat covers of an old Volkswagen.
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In the 1990s, reissues of the syndication of WKRP had nearly all music played by the DJs changed. While the original run of the series prided itself in both writing and acting by using current hit songs, it was later deemed too expensive to keep the rights for the originals in syndication (hundreds of thousands of dollars were at stake). Instead, songs were removed and replaced with "generic" studio music; even original "generic" music was replaced to avoid any possibility of later lawsuits. Because the actors often spoke over the music, voice impersonators were hired to emulate the actors in those scenes. In some cases this meant revising lines so that jokes about the song just played were removed, and changed to often-meaningless new titles.
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Les can be seen wearing a bandage on some part of his body in practically every episode. We eventually find out it is because he has a very large (and never-seen) dog that he keeps at home. In real-life, the bandage idea originated when Richard Sanders suffered an injury prior to the taping of the first episode and was forced to wear a bandage on the air; he subsequently decided to make it Les' trademark.
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The closing theme may not have had lyrics but the opening theme did: Baby, if you've ever wondered / Wondered whatever became of me / I'm living on the air in Cincinnati / Cincinnati / WKRP / Got kind of tired of packin' and unpackin' / Town to Town / Up and down the dial / Maybe you and me / Were never meant to be / Just maybe think of me / Once in a while / I'm at WKRP in Cincinnati.
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Hugh Wilson would do the warm-up during show tapings. Wilson said during a warm-up that the reason he chose call letters "WKRP" is that they were the only ones not being used by an actual station. He said he wanted to use "WSOS" or "WHLP" but they were taken. During the show's run, a small AM radio station in Georgia applied to the FCC for the call letters WKRP. The show's producers considered legal action, but were informed by the FCC that their trademark rights did not prevent a legitimate radio station from using the call letters, which were granted to the applicant.
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The show was videotaped instead of filmed because it was cheaper to get the rights to rock songs for a taped show than for a filmed show.
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In some scenes, bulletin boards or wall spaces are seen plastered with bumper stickers for radio stations across the USA. They were sent by actual radio station DJs who were avid fans of the show.
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If you look closely you can make out the names Johnny Fever used on air on the side of his coffee cup. The names read: Johnny Duke, Johnny Style, Johnny Cool, Johnny Sunshine, and of course Johnny Fever (In the pilot episode, the understaffed station had Johnny doing both the morning *and* afternoon shows, necessitating Johnny to look at his coffee mug to see which name he was supposed to use on-air at the time.)
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It is reported that part of the inspiration for WKRP was the Harry Chapin song "WOLD" about a wandering FM Jock looking to finally settle down.
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The character of Bailey Quarters was based on creator Hugh Wilson's wife. Wilson wrote the character to be shy and soft-spoken but very articulate when she did speak because he felt his wife was the same way.
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The pilot was filmed at CBS Television City in Los Angeles but the rest of the episodes were taped at CBS Studio City in the San Fernando Valley. It was filmed on the same stage as another sitcom about a midwestern station, Mary Tyler Moore (1970). Only shots for the opening and closing credits and cutaways for a few episodes were recorded in Cincinnati.
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In the pilot episode, the wattage stated on the lobby wall was 50,000, however in subsequent episodes it is reduced to 5,000.
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Series writer Bill Dial made several appearances as the station's engineer Bucky Dornster.
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Contrary to urban myth, Richard Sanders does not sing the show's opening theme. The lyrics are sung by Steve Carlisle.
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Several of the tunes used in the series were changed to more generic rock music when the show went into syndication. This was so the producers would not have to pay fees to use the original songs.
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Hugh Wilson is a huge fan of The Beatles and wanted to include as many of their songs in the show as possible. However, even with the licensing discount provided by ASCAP, The Beatles proved to be the most expensive artist to license a song from. As a result, only three Beatles songs were used in the entire show: "I'm Down" (WKRP in Cincinnati: Preacher (1979) - which was removed in later airings), "Here Comes The Sun" (WKRP in Cincinnati: Out to Lunch (1981)) and "Come Together" (WKRP in Cincinnati: Jennifer and Johnny's Charity (1982)). Presumably (and unsurprisingly), the second most expensive artist to license a song from was The Rolling Stones. They were the first group to have their music replaced in syndication.
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Sylvia Sidney played "Mama" Carlson in the pilot episode. However, Carol Bruce took over the role for the rest of the series run because executive producer/creator Hugh Wilson said that Sidney was not pleasant to work with, did not get along with the cast or producers and thought the show itself was ridiculous.
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David Cassidy turned down the role of Johnny "Dr. Johnny Fever" Caravella.
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In 1980 Hanna-Barbera planned to collaborate with Hugh Wilson to make an animated series of WKRP with all eight characters as dogs. Thankfully, the series never got off the ground.
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The radio station that was active during the sitcom's (and is still active today) is Cincinnati's WKRC 550 AM, Coincidentally, its call letters are phonetically closer to the show's own fictional title.
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The final first-run episode of WKRP to air on CBS was #7 in the weekly Neilson ratings for all series, specials and sports events. Prior to the airing, the series had already been canceled.
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The full name of the building where WKRP is located is the Osgood R. Flimm Building. In Season 1, Episode 3 "Les on a Ledge" - The Flimm Building is mentioned because authorities need to know where to come and save Les.
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Originally, it was announced that William Daniels was to be cast in the "Clean Up Radio Everywhere" (episode #3.22) segment. His part, Dr. Bob Halyers, however, was recast with actor Richard Paul because of Paul's resemblance to Jerry Falwell, the person on whom Halyers was based. Daniels, however, would eventually work for MTM Enterprises full time in the role of Dr. Mark Craig on the NBC medical drama, St. Elsewhere (1982).
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Herb Tarlek had a University of Arkansas Razorbacks coffee mug on his desk. Frank Bonner, who played Herb, was born and raised in Arkansas.
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Gordon Jump used to work as a disc jockey for a radio station in Dayton, Ohio.
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The characters of Arthur Carlson and Dr. Johnny Fever were based on real people in the radio industry.
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Venus Flytrap's real name was Gordon Simms, and he was a school teacher before he became a DJ.
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Johnny was fired from a previous job because he said the word booger on the air. In fact, when Andy changed the station's format in the middle of Johnny's show he showed his joy by uttering the previously banned word.
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The character of Les Nessman always appeared with a Band-Aid or other bandage somewhere on his face, neck or hands.
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William Woodson is uncredited as the announcer for the tag scenes, as well as, the intros and outros for Les' newscasts.
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The notion of references to "Mayor Springer" is an urban legend. Jerry Springer was indeed mayor, but he was never mentioned by name on the show.
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Following the December 1980 assassination of John Lennon, a photo of Lennon was prominently displayed in the background as a memorial tribute.
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In 2014, an agreement for the rights to restore most of the real life songs originally heard in episodes, was reached for forthcoming DVD releases.
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The series featured a number of references and props to Cincinnati's real life pro sports teams. In particular, the satin WKRP staff jackets (usually worn by Andy and Venus) were modified Cincinnati Reds warm-up jackets. In addition, a placard with the logo for the Cincinnati Stingers of the defunct World Hockey Association could often be seen in the background.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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