Les wears a bandage on some part of his body in almost every episode. Eventually, he reveals that he has a very large dog at home. In real life, Richard Sanders suffered an injury prior to taping the pilot episode, had to wear a bandage on the air, then decided to make it Les' trademark.
The ending theme song was done by a group of studio musicians in Atlanta, GA. The lyrics are unintelligible because it was recorded solely to help the musicians and the show's producers get a feel for the song and the lyric melody. The producers liked it as is, so it was never changed.
In close-ups, the names Johnny Fever used on air are all on the side of his coffee cup: Johnny Duke, Johnny Style, Johnny Cool, Johnny Sunshine, and Johnny Fever. In the pilot, the understaffed station had Johnny doing the morning and afternoon shows. Johnny had to look at his coffee mug to see which name he was supposed to use on-air.
Hugh Wilson did the warm-up during show tapings. During one warm-up, Wilson said he chose the call letters "WKRP" because they weren't being used by an actual station. 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 the FCC said that their trademark rights did not prevent a legitimate radio station from using the call letters, which were granted to the applicant. In March 2014, a non-profit organization was granted the call sign 'WKRP' for a new FM radio station in Raleigh, North Carolina. The station is expected to go on the air in 2015 at 101.9 FM.
The character of Herb Tarlek was known for wearing very tacky suits. In one episode, when Herb wears a particularly outrageous suit, Venus Flytrap remarks, "Somewhere out there there's a Volkswagen with no seats." One of Herb's suits was actually made from the seat covers of an old Volkswagen.
The show was famous for playing music of (at the time) young, up-and-coming bands. Many have said that their music being on the show helped their popularity, including Blondie, U2, The Cars, Toto, The Knack and Devo. Blondie was so grateful for the show making their song, "Heart of Glass," such a big hit that they gave their Gold Record trophy for it to the producers and it can be visible hanging in the WKRP bullpen in seasons 2 to 4.
While the series prided itself in both writing and acting with hit songs, keeping the rights to play the songs would've cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the 1990s reissues for syndication, nearly all of the music played by the DJs was replaced with generic studio music. 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, lines had to be revised so jokes about the song that just played were removed, and changed to often-meaningless new titles. In 2014, an agreement was reached for the rights to restore most of the real-life songs from the original broadcasts for forthcoming DVD releases.
The pilot was filmed at CBS Television City in Los Angeles. The rest of the episodes were taped at CBS Studio City, on the same stage as Mary Tyler Moore (1970). Only shots for the opening and closing credits and cutaways for a few episodes were recorded in Cincinnati.
The full name of the building where WKRP is located is the Osgood R. Flimm Building. The name is mentioned in (WKRP in Cincinnati: Les on a Ledge (1978) because authorities need to know where to go to save Les.
Sylvia Sidney played "Mama" Carlson in the pilot. Carol Bruce took over the role for the rest of the series run. Executive producer/creator Hugh Wilson said Sidney was not pleasant to work with, did not get along with the cast or producers and thought the show itself was ridiculous.
The freestanding broadcast tower seen in the opening credits (that appears as the singer says "WKRP") is actually the NBC affiliate WLWT Channel 5's tower in Cincinnati. The tower was reported to have been dismantled some years back.
Lyrics for the opening theme: "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."
Dr Johnny Fever is based based on Atlanta's DJ "Skinny" Bobby Harper, who was the morning drive DJ on WQXI ("Quixie in Dixie"), 790 on the AM dial. Harper was famous for such morning stunts as the "morning moo cow report," i.e., "there are seven moo cows on the streets of Atlanta this morning." Hugh Wilson, the show's creator, once worked at WQXI with Harper.
The series featured numerous references to Cincinnati's real-life pro sports teams. The satin WKRP staff jackets, usually worn by Andy and Venus, were modified Cincinnati Reds warm-up jackets. A placard with the logo for the Cincinnati Stingers, of the defunct World Hockey Association, often appeared in the background.
Johnny Fever was fired from a previous job because he said the word "booger" on the air. When Andy changed the station's format in the middle of Johnny's show, he showed his joy by uttering the previously banned word.
Gordon Jump and Sam Anderson had made many appearance on the TV series Growing Pains (1985 - 1992) and Loni Anderson who plays Jennifer on the show has appeared on a poster in the episode Thank you Willie Nelson. Frank Bonner starred in the Growing Pains spin-off TV series Just the 10 of us (1988 - 1990)
Anson Williams, Marion Ross and Ron Howard all collaborated on the TV movie "Skyward" in 1980. Ron Howard directed it; it's the only tv movie he has directed in his successful career. Williams co-produced it and also wrote the screenplay; and Marion Ross starred in it. Bette Davis also appeared in the movie. Amazingly she was a stand in for Melissa Sue Anderson, who could not appear in the project for scheduling reasons! Apparently no one has anything nice to say about Ms. Davis. "I was scared of her," Marion Ross says of the movie legend. "I stayed away from her." Anson Williams also said Ms Davis was not very fun to work with. Facts of Life star Lisa Welchel and WKRP star Howard Hessman both also appeared in this high profile and highly rated 1980 tv movie as well.
Mackenzie Phillips makes an appearance in the One Day At a Time Reboot; she plays a counselor and a former veteran who is leading a support group for veterans with PTSD; which Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado) is attending in episode 8 of the first season. The other surviving cast members, (Valerie Bertenelli; Glenn Scarpelli; Shelly Faberes, Richard Masur, Boyd Gaines, Charles Siebert; ALIAS STar Ron Rifkin; WKRP STAR Howard Hessman, Joseph Campanella, Scott Colomby, John Putch, Michael Lembeck, Mary Louise Wilson and Corey Feldman) have no plans to make any cameos on the reboot series; as of yet, anyway.