WKRP in Cincinnatti

A few weeks ago I posted about Jan Smithers…who portrayed Bailey Quarters on WKRP. it was one of the shows from the late 70s that I wouldn’t miss.

This show was not like the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart, or All In The Family. Those are great shows…some of the best ever sitcoms…but they were aimed more at adults while this one I always felt was largely aimed at teenagers. The show aired from 1978 to 1982. Rock and Roll on a sitcom was not common.

WKRP in Cincinnati” was produced by MTM – the studio Mary Tyler Moore and Grant Tinker built that produces shows such as The Bob Newhart Show, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Phyllis, The White Shadow, Rhoda, and many others.

The episode I remember the most having an effect on me was about the horrible event in 1979 when eleven people were killed at a Who concert in Cincinnati’s Riverfront Park. The show handled the tragic situation very well.

The plot…to make it short was about a Program Director (Andy Travis) who had a perfect record in turning bad radio stations around joins the staff at WKRP. The station is in the bottom of the ratings and he wants to change the format to Rock which is met with trepidation from the oddball staff.

The show would feature new rock music as well as old. Blondie gave the show one of their gold records in appreciation because the show played “Heart of Glass” and helped to make it number 1.

The extended theme song by Steve Carlisle Wkrp In Cincinnati peaked at #65 on the Billboard 100 in 1979…video at the bottom

The Cast

Bailey Quarters – Jan Smithers – A shy soft-spoken lady in charge of billing and station traffic soon worked herself up to an on-air personality and other duties. She and Jennifer on the show were a bit like Mary Ann and Ginger on Gilligans Island.

Andy Travis – Gary Sandy –Andy comes to the station as the new Program Director to turn the station around and finds the station’s employees…are like from the Island of Misfit Toys. He finds their strengths and tries to make it work. His character was based on real-life Program Director Mikel Herrington.

Dr. Johnny Fever – Howard Hesseman – Fun Fact…David Cassidy was offered this role but turned it down!

Johnny had been around for a while and was fired off a Los Angeles radio station for saying booger on air. He was probably my favorite character…next to Bailey…on the show when I first watched. Dr. Johnny Fever was based on real DJ “Skinny” Bobby Harper.

Venus Flytrap – Tim Reid – Venus was the night DJ and was one of the smoothest DJ’s ever…Venus wears 70’s type flashy clothes and in the series eventually becomes Assistant Program Director.

Herb Tarlek –  Frank Bonner – Herb was a salesman and dressed very tacky and loud. He hits on Jennifer at every opportunity, despite being married… but gets turned down constantly.

Jennifer Marlowe – Loni Anderson – She was Ginger to Bailey’s Mary Ann. Mr. Carlson’s receptionist…she was the highest-paid employee at the station even though refusing to do most things that receptionists are required to do.

Arthur Carlson –  Gordon Jump – The lovable but ineffective station manager who is the son of the station’s owner. He never wanted to know what was going on…, but when he tries to be hands-on…it leads to disastrous results (see Turkey’s Away episode)

Les Nessman – Richard Sanders – The incompetent News Director…Les was obsessed with the region’s hog farming industry…constantly mispronounced names… ignored obvious news stories for Hog Reports…but he would win the Silver Sow Award and The Buckeye Newshawk Award.




Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

35 thoughts on “WKRP in Cincinnatti”

      1. Most shows about radio are different from real life. I loved that they were playing vinyl on the show!!! One thing that always bugged me was that the DJ’s never wore headphones! There is no way to hear the intros or outros of the songs with the microphone on without headphones.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. A great show, at the time at least. I was about same age as you, Badfinger, so it was just right for me… and so was Bailey, LOL. I sometimes catch re-runs now, would say it doesn’t hold up tremendously well but it still seems watchable, and some very funny bits. Watchable, especially if the originals!! As many probably know, there were problems with getting permission to use a lot of the music for DVDs and I guess streaming services, so some versions have horrible elevator muzak dubbed in where real, recognizable rock songs were played in the show as it was made.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I watched the first four episodes last night as I was writing it. It all depends on the episode. For me the best one above all is the Thanksgiving episode “Turkey’s Away”…the line that Carlson says is classic….“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”

      I have some of the originals and yes it works with the real music…

      The oddest tihng I found out was that David Cassidy was offered the Johnny Fever role.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. yes, the Thanksgiving one is a classic!! And The Who one, unfortunate as the situation was, it really showed they could elevate their game. Couldn’t imagine Cassidy as Johnny– I still can’t see Hesseman as any other role and not think “Johnny Fever!” Another classic episode was the tornado… still remember Johnny’s line about growing up poor andliving in a mobile home and “in a tornado a mobile home gets very mobile!”

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Seems like David Cassidy would have been way to young for that role. I think the guy who plays him does him right. I do remember watching the show but don’t remember it super well. I do remember the turkey episode!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved that they used the complete ensemble and didn’t try to “star” one.
      Les was great…I remember him having imaginary walls around his desk…


      1. Not surprised. Gary Sandy is my dad’s age (74) and still isn’t bad looking. STILL has a head full of hair as of Jan. 1 (Facebook selfie). He is a Christmas baby & his mom turned 100 Aug. 3. I don’t think he ever had kids. Has one ex wife. He appears to run his own FB page.

        He us taking care of himself.


        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have a lot of respect for Gary Sandy. He could have taken more tv roles or more movie roles but he loved the stage and stayed with that.
        He does look good for his age or anywhere near it…He does take care of himself.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. They look good together… She really gets intimate about their relationship…she said she was addicted to him lol.


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