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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

Your Guide To 'WKRP' Episodes, Music Starting April 2

Courtesy MeTV
"WKRP In Cincinnati," which aired on CBS (1978-82) returns to MeTV on Monday, April 2.

Turkeys away! "WKRP in Cincinnati" returns to the airwaves 9:30 p.m. Monday, April 2, with the introductory episode broadcast by CBS on Sept. 18, 1978.

Viewers will also see eight of the first nine original episodes on Me TV, a subchannel aired by WLWT-TV (Channel 5.2) and Dayton's WHIO-TV (Channel 7.2). The first announced shows include the hilarious Thanksgiving  turkey drop promotion and receptionist Jennifer Marlowe (Loni Anderson) going on a date with nerdy newsman Les Nessman (Richard Sanders).

Credit CBS
"WKRP" cast (front row) Loni Anderson, Howard Hesseman, (middle row) Richard Sanders, Gary Sandy, Jan Smithers, Tim Reid, (back row) Frank Bonner and Gordon Jump.

And if the original music remains intact, the first two weeks of shows should feature great rock n' roll by Bob Seger ("Old Time Rock & Roll"), Foreigner ("Hot Blooded"), Janis Joplin ("Mercedes Benz"), Chuck Berry ("Back In the USA"), Bob Dylan ("Like A Rolling Stone"), Van Halen ("Atomic Punk") and The Rolling Stones ("Beast of Burden," "Lies," "Shattered").

"WKRP" starts Monday with "Pilot: Part 1" to show us  how it all began: New program director Andy Travis (Gary Sandy) arrives from Santa Fe and switches from boring elevator music to Top 40, upsetting Nessman, salesman Herb Tarlek (Frank Bonner) and station manager Arthur "The Big Guy" Carlson (Gordon Jump).

The new music transforms disc jockey Johnny "Sunshine" Caravella (Howard Hesseman) into Dr. Johnny Fever. ("We all in critical condition!…. So just sit down, relax, open your ears real wide and say, 'Give it to me straight, Doctor, I can take it!' "). Andy also hires evening DJ Venus Flytrap (Tim Reid) from New Orleans. 

Credit MeTV
Howard Hesseman, Loni Anderson and Jan Smithers in a MeTV promotion for the old CBS sitcom.

Here's your guide to watching "WKRP" on MeTV:

CHANNEL GUIDE:  MeTV is available in Greater Cincinnati over-the-air on WLWT-TV (Channel 5.2), Cincinnati Bell Fioptics (Channels 23 and 291), DISH network (Channel 247) and Spectrum cable in Southwestern Ohio (Channel 993) and Northern Kentucky (Channel 188).

In the Dayton area, it's available on over-the-air WHIO-TV (Channel 7.2), Spectrum cable (Channels 23 and 372), AT&T U-Verse (Channels 136 and 1136), Buckland Telephone Company (Channel 11), NK Telco, Inc. (Channel 6), TSC Television (Channel 777) and Wabash Mutual Telephone Company (Channel 6).

"The Pilot: Part 1": 9:30 p.m. Monday, April 2. How it all began. Features music by Ted Nugent ("Queen of the Forest") and Chic ("Dance, Dance, Dance  (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)").

Credit Shout! Factory
Tim Reid as Venus Flytrap.

"The Pilot: Part 2" (9:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 3): Receptionist Jennifer Marlowe (Anderson) tries to shield her boss (Jump) from elderly listeners protesting the WKRP format change, while Andy tries to come up with a publicity stunt to exploit the music switch. Music by Bob Seger ("Old Time Rock & Roll") and The Rolling Stones ("Lies," "Shattered").

"Hoodlum Rock" (9:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 4):  WKRP promotes a concert by a violent punk rock band called Scum of the Earth (fronted by Michael Des Barres, who would star in the 1991-92 The New WKRP In Cincinnati), which refuses to perform.  Meanwhile, Herb (Frank Bonner) is worried about news that Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes "is missing."  Music by Detective ("Dynamite," "Got Enough Love").

"Hold-Up" (9:30 p.m. Thursday, April 5): When Herb arranges for Dr. Johnny Fever to broadcast at Del Murdock's (Hamilton Camp) stereo shop, the only person to show up is an unemployed DJ, who wants to rob the store. "WKRP" writer-producer Bill Dial appears as inept engineer Bucky Dornster. Music by Janis Joplin ("Mercedes Benz"), Chuck Berry ("Back In the USA"), Bob Dylan ("Like A Rolling Stone") and Van Halen ("Atomic Punk").

"Bailey's Show" (9:30 p.m. Friday, April 6): Producer Bailey Quarters (Jan Smithers) suggests "Cincinnati Beat," a public affairs show which attracts guests who are crazier than the WKRP staff.  Music by Elvis Presley ("Jailhouse Rock"), Boston ("Don't Look Back") and A Taste of Honey ("Boogie Oogie Oogie").

"Turkeys Away" (9:30 p.m. Monday, April 9):  The all-time classic WKRP, when the station drops live turkeys over the shopping mall as a Thanksgiving promotion. "The Pinedale Shopping Mall has just been bombed with live turkeys. Film at 11," Dr. Johnny Fever tells listeners. The show ends with the Big Guy (Jump) uttering those famous words: "As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." Music by Pink Floyd ("Dogs"), Joe Cocker ("Fun Time") and Creedence Clearwater Revival ("It Came Out Of The Sky").


"Love Returns" (9:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 10): Andy's old girlfriend, a country singer, asks him to quit WKRP and tour with her. Music by The Rolling Stones ("Beast of Burden") and Ray Charles ("You 20th Century Fox").

Credit Media Heritage
Les Nessman considered suicide on "Les On A Ledge" originally broadcast Oct. 2, 1978.

"Mama's Review" (9:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 11): A "clip show" with Mamma Carlson (Carol Bruce), son Arthur (Jump) and program director Andy Travis (Sandy) reviewing incidents since Andy changed the format to Top 40. Music by Bob Seger ("Old Time Rock & Roll), Marvin Gaye ("Is That Enough") and Ted Nugent ("Queen of the Forest").

"A Date With Jennifer" (9:30 p.m., Thursday April 12): Jennifer agrees to go with newsman Les Nessman (Sanders) to a banquet where he's presented the Silver Sow Award, much to the shock of jealous Herb (Frank Bonner). Les buys a toupee to wear on the date, which I hope he still puts on to Foreigner's "Hot Blooded." Also music by the Grateful Dead ("Shakedown Street"). 

In 2006, Twentieth Century Fox eliminated most of the original rock music in a DVD release of the first season. However, most of the original music was restored in Shout! Factory's complete series DVD boxed set in 2014.

MeTV, for some unknown reason, skipped the third episode from Oct. 2, 1978, called "Les on a Ledge," when Les Nessman contemplates suicide by jumping off Osgood R. Flimm Building (which was actually the Cincinnati Enquirer building at 617 Vine St.).

John Kiesewetter joined the WVXU news team as a TV/Media blogger on July 1 2015, after nearly 30 years covering local and national broadcasting for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He’ll be posting news about Greater Cincinnati TV, radio and movies; updating your favorite former local TV/radio personalities or stars who grew up here; and breaking news about national TV, radio and media trends. You’ll also learn about Cincinnati’s rich broadcasting history.