WKRP in Cincinnati: Season 1, Episode 11

The Contest Nobody Could Win (29 Jan. 1979)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy
8.2
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When Johnny misreads a contest prize as $5,000 instead of $50, Andy & Venus try to make the contest unwinnable by slicing short parts of songs together. Unfortunately someone still wins. ... See full summary »

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Title: The Contest Nobody Could Win (29 Jan 1979)

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When Johnny misreads a contest prize as $5,000 instead of $50, Andy & Venus try to make the contest unwinnable by slicing short parts of songs together. Unfortunately someone still wins. Herb convinces Carlson that it is the "dungaree" generation sabotaging the "suits" generation and pushes Carlson to the brink of firing Andy, Venus & Johnny. However, it is Johnny to the rescue when Les & Herb accidentally give the prize money to the wrong person. Written by Jersey73

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29 January 1979 (USA)  »

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The songs in the contest, in order, are "Too Wild To Tame" by the Boys; "Tumbling Dice" by the Rolling Stones; "YMCA" by the Village People; "Dankeschoene" by Wayne Newton; "Straight On" by Heart; and "The Star Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key. See more »

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The Dungarees Vs the Suits
22 August 2011 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

Dr.Fever is spinning tunes with the same deliciously offbeat banter that has made him famous in countless different incarnations throughout his career at different stations before he bounced his way to WKRP. Hitting the air in the morning drive slot he is usually halfway through his show before anyone, including program director Travis get to the station. Who knows what happens at WKRP between midnight and 6 AM?

Of course Travis can't be everywhere at once and will have to sleep sometime. He leaves Fever a memo detailing a contest promotion where first prize is $50. Fever plugs the contest nearly perfectly throughout the first half of his show with one small error - He announces the prize is $5000 instead of $50. The prize budget for the entire year is $5000.

Carlson, panicking as usual (Uncharacteristic for an Ex-Marine I should think) and overlooking his own mistakes calls for Fever's head. Travis defends Fever out of more than friendship. His morning drive time with Fever is straight ahead album rock with cutting edge banter according to Travis's plan and he figures he can't lose him.

Fever, a spaced out insomniac comfortable in a cramped DJ booth but generally clueless everywhere else didn't know if he was in Pittsburgh or Cincinnati in the pilot episode. He is nevertheless generally brilliant at what he does.

Fever apologizes but the Big Guy still isn't happy particularly since Travis manipulated him (In a sickening way which I refuse to describe) into signing off on the $5000 prize budget to begin with.

I guess for some unknown FCC regulation they can't simply announce they made a mistake (Albeit one Fever repeated numerous times during the first half of his broadcast) and just say that the prize is actually $50. On a station with commercials for a private health clinic with the slogan "Where malpractice is rapidly becoming a thing of the past" it would hardly seem out of place for "Dr.Fever" to admit he screwed up.

Travis and Venus come up with what they think is an ingenious way out. They will have a Name That Tune style contest with split second excerpts of songs cut so closely together that no one should be able to guess what they are. After two weeks the contest will end with no winner. They won't lose $5000. They won't even lose $50. Of course nothing ever goes as planned at this radio station.

The first contestant guesses 5 out of the 6 songs and the next one gets them all. Not only is the contest promotion limited to a few morning broadcasts, they lose the money. It is far from the finest hour for Fever, Travis and Venus.

Tarlek senses an opening for a palace revolt (A nearly last place AM radio station could hardly be characterized as a palace unless it happens to be revolting) and recruits Les to join his cause which he calls "The Dungarees Vs the Suits" a manifestation of their nostalgia for when they held greater sway over decisions, a time when Travis wasn't there which not coincidentally was when WKRP was losing $100,000 a year.

Travis, who continually tries to manipulate Carlson, Tarlek and Les out of the picture in Machiavellian ways (when straightforward logic fails to persuade them which it usually does) is discredited and has his duties restricted to programming.

Carlson, won over by Tarlek's timely Dungarees Vs Suits argument puts Tarlek and Les in charge of promotion. A conman pretending to be the contest winner dupes Carlson, Tarlek and Les into handing him the briefcase with the money. The real contest winner arrives and presents his identification moments later. The Big Guy abandons the Dungarees/Suits crusade.

Its WKRP, a station so warped and down and out that it is almost perpetually in damage control. Fever, the initial cause of the blunder is able to partially redeem himself when he retrieves the briefcase with the money but he still has merely limited what is nearly a $10,000 mistake back to being a $5000 mistake.

Despite the mistake (One that for all appearances is known only in house) what happens here allows WKRP to appear less slipshod than usual albeit for less than a week. A $5000 contest would have sounded big league back then and even made the rivals at WPIG take notice.


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