Feeling left out by all the recent changes, Mr. Carlson decides to launch his own Thanksgiving promotion. With the aid of Herb and Les, the Big Guy turns a routine turkey give-away into a comic catastrophe.



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This is the signature episode, the one that first comes to mind when one thinks of WKRP in Cincinatti. On air, Dr. Johnny Fever tells his fellow babies about Turkey Day doings. Out on the streets, "oh the humanity"... Mr. Carlson stages a top-secret holiday promotion and ends up ruffling a lot of feathers. Written by LA-Lawyer

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Release Date:

30 October 1978 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was the most popular episode of the show, in terms of viewer reaction and fan mail. The episode, about a Thankgiving promotion that went wrong, was based on an actual radio station incident. Richard Sanders (Les Nessman) prepared for the episode by studying a recording of Herbert Morrison's live broadcast of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster. See more »


While Johnny and Venus are discussing the blonde wig giveaway and the Guatemalan earthquake, the record label switches back and forth between a black label (probably Columbia) and a rainbow label. See more »


Arthur 'Big Guy' Carlson: As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.
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Referenced in Mike & Mike: Episode dated 2 December 2015 (2015) See more »


Fun Time
Written by Allen Toussaint
Performed by Joe Cocker
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User Reviews

No Turkeys Were Actually Harmed
21 August 2011 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

Station manager Art Carlson is a kind and generous man who nevertheless couldn't run a lemonade stand properly and had been mismanaging WKRP for years up until he hired new program director Andy Travis. Receptionist Jennifer (This is the episode where we learn she doesn't take dictation or get coffee) redirects important mail to Travis and shields Carlson from phone calls which generally is the way Carlson wants it.

But occasionally the Big Guy gets bored and demands to have some kind of involvement beyond rubber-stamping Travis's decisions. Travis of course is constantly trying to keep Carlson out of the loop. In this episode Travis is challenged again to keep Carlson satisfied with doing nothing significant that might interfere with station affairs. A befuddled Travis tells Carlson "You're the boss! You do boss stuff!" but fails to sufficiently elaborate.

Carlson has caught on and stages a counter rebellion. If the Big Guy isn't handled right when he decides to assert his authority it can result in simply pestering employees which he does here. Travis protests saying that everything is going well. Carlson's response is an ominous "And its going to get even better!".

Carlson then orchestrates what he thinks is a masterstroke of a Thanksgiving promotion i.e. a turkey giveaway at a shopping mall. He doesn't fill Travis in on the details but a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway could hardly be anything complicated. It isn't even original. If the Big Guy wants to handle a promotion once in awhile how bad could it be? Fever fills Venus in on Carlson's disastrous past promotion ideas before they tune in to a live remote broadcast from the mall by Les giving commentary on the event that Carlson says is "going to set the city on its ear".

Les, out there all alone, is the real victim in all of this and we all listen helplessly as he relates the horrific events which follow. His summary of initial events is comically inept as usual but the accuracy becomes almost unbearable for his co-workers listening at the station when he finally diagnoses the fact that Carlson and Tarlek have bombed a shopping mall with live turkeys.

This episode, one of the funniest things ever shown on network TV, gets funnier the second time you see it. Les's blissfully unaware diplomatic conjecture in his narration up until the moment we discover what is going on is more hysterical when you know what is coming.

Travis, who continually tried to manipulate Carlson out of the picture in ways which would have made Machiavelli blush defends his boss as best he can here to the other employees and to an understandably outraged Cincinnati mayor. It is partly his fault but only because he neglected handling Carlson the way we have sometimes seen him do so well.

Mr.Carlson, having emerged from the helicopter covered in turkey feathers exclaims "As God as my witness I thought turkeys could fly". I personally have always had tremendous empathy for Mr.Carlson. Why do turkeys have wings if they can't fly? What we get from the narrative beyond the incredibly funny conclusion is a sense of the family dynamic at work here. The biggest obstacle to Andy's success is Carlson, a guy he likes for an awful lot of reasons none of which have to do with any aspect of radio. But even after an epic fiasco like the turkey bombing which reflects badly on everyone at the station Andy tries to offer his boss heart-warming words of encouragement seeing the man's disappointment.

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