sowny.net | The Southern Ontario/WNY Radio-TV Forum


You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

November 22, 2020 4:37 pm  #1


Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

As U.S. Thanksgiving approaches, the actor who played Program Director Andy Travis recalls one of the most beloved episodes of what is surely the greatest series about radio ever made.

Gary Sandy revisits 'WKRP in Cincinnati' before turkey day 

The stories about the baseball ringer and producer Hugh Wilson giving the proverbial middle finger to CBS management are also highlights.

"Wilson was this much of a rascal: A faux banner (“Welcome Scum”) was used during the “Hoodlum Rock” episode. When presidents from nationwide CBS affiliates gathered for a barbecue, Wilson and WKRP writers hung the “Welcome Scum” sign from a window at the barbecue site, according to Sandy. “And Grant Tinker said, ‘Damn it, take that sign down.’” 

 

November 22, 2020 6:26 pm  #2


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

Thanks RA, for this post.  While I have always enjoyed this episode;  I am a longtime fan of the show.

As someone who has never worked in broadcasting,  I often wondered what Sowny members who have/are working in radio;  think of the series?  I asked this question on this Board a couple of years ago,  bur received no replies.

Last edited by Media Observer (November 22, 2020 6:37 pm)

 

November 22, 2020 6:39 pm  #3


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

Ok MA, let me kick off my answer to your question.   First of all 35 years in broadcasting, mostly television but first and last jobs were in radio.
I loved the series, as do most of the people I know who worked in radio mainly because it was very close to what working at a radio station was really like.
The characters were perfect.   We have all worked with someone very much like The Big Guy, Johnny Fever, Jennifer and especially Herb.    They certainly were caricatures but very close.    I am not sure but have always believed some of the people who were involved with the production of the show had to have worked in radio at some time because they nailed it.
As for episodes, the turkey drop was great,  but the one where a sleaze ball consultant was brought in was so close to what I have seen it is scarey.
Someone once told me that a radio consultant would steal your watch and then ask you what time it was.
Personally, one of my favourite shows of all time.

 

November 22, 2020 6:42 pm  #4


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

Oh and BTW, favourite line of all time from the series came from Johnny Fever while on air:
"..WKRP in Cincinnati, with more music, and Les Nessman."

 

November 22, 2020 7:42 pm  #5


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

It's a very exaggerated look at radio on the one hand and extremely real on the other. I worked with a sportscaster who dressed like Herb Tarlek, right down to the loud plaid sportscoat. He was a real piece of work. He once missed a sports cast because he was in the bathroom and forgot to come out in time. I remember the afternoon jock stomping through the halls calling his name, to no avail. 

Then there was the producer who put on a sound effects record of a light rainstorm, waited for someone to walk by and turned the volume all the way up, while assuming the position of someone taking a leak under the board. There were a lot of double takes at that one as unsuspecting people passed by the room. 

I also knew a sales person who was Tarlek-like. He used to come in and raise his finger (not that one) while making a strident point. He was good at his job but incredibly annoying. 

Another guy once took over a department and asked his employees to keep a log of everything they did, so he could judge how efficient they were being. Needless to say, this did not go over well and he got back sheets reading things like, "12:15 PM: Breathed In Twice" or "1:40 PM: Used washroom. Went #2." The survey did not last long. 

I produced one guy's show which had a cast of characters in it - and he did all the voices. One of the most talented people I've ever known. One day before his show, he had a huge fight with the P.D. over something really trivial. As we marched into the control room, he threatened to tell his listeners that every one of the voices had been "killed in a motorcycle crash." I had to beg him not to do it and he finally agreed. 

This same guy was at a remote station function and got a bit tipsy, and started swearing on the air for no reason. He was suspended but he was so valuable, they let him keep his job.

A lot of the stuff on WKRP was about what took place behind the scenes. That's where the true comedy gold was in real life, too. When I was at CKEY, they used to produce a show called "Canada In Focus," which ran on weekends. The host was Jim McLean, with an intro voiced by the late Ian Brownlee. 

One week, McLean was in Ottawa, so we fed the intro down the line so they could use it. But Brownlee decided to make a small alteration. "Canada In Focus," he intoned in that deep baritone. "A weekly look at the issues facing Canadians. Your host - two pounds of shit in a one pound bag!" 

Somehow it was funnier with that amazing voice saying it. 

Anyway, I could go on and on and on, but the point is - something I've always said about broadcasting is that it beats working in an office. The people you find are generally a bit off kilter  (present company NOT excepted!) and pretty creative. So with the clock always ticking down to a drop dead air time, people did and do a lot of things to ease the tension. And that, to me, is what made 'KRP so special.  

     Thread Starter
 

November 22, 2020 7:49 pm  #6


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

And by the way, some trivia fans know that Dr. Johnny Fever was based on an Atlanta DJ named "Skinny" Bobby Harper, who once worked at the same station where future WKRP creator Hugh Wilson was employed. It turns out that while Harper worked most of his life in the U.S. (he died in 2003), he was born right here in Canada.

Saskatchewan, to be exact. 

So in a weird way, WKRP owes perhaps its most iconic character to this country. 

Skinny Bobby Harper 

From TV Guide's 1978 Fall Preview issue:

https://i.ibb.co/dtzjzh4/WKRP-In-Cincinnati-Fall-Prevew-TV-Guide-Sept-1978.jpg

 

     Thread Starter
 

November 22, 2020 8:45 pm  #7


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

That TV guide blurb is not entirely correct in claiming that WKRP was Top 40 Rock. The show may have been inspired by the movie FM and Howard Hesseman was actually on pioneer FM station KMPX and here he is discussing KMPX and founder Tom Donahue. Intersesting discussuion on free form radio and Johnny Fever and who may have inspired him is mentioned: 



 

Last edited by Fitz (November 22, 2020 9:20 pm)


Cool Airchecks and More:
http://www.lettheuniverseanswer.com/
 

November 23, 2020 12:43 am  #8


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

Fitz wrote:

That TV guide blurb is not entirely correct in claiming that WKRP was Top 40 Rock. The show may have been inspired by the movie FM and Howard Hesseman was actually on pioneer FM station KMPX and here he is discussing KMPX and founder Tom Donahue. Intersesting discussuion on free form radio and Johnny Fever and who may have inspired him is mentioned: 



 

I'm nearly certain Andy Travis says the words Top 40 Rock 'n Roll in the pilot.

 

November 23, 2020 6:10 am  #9


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

You are correct Prod Guy. He does say top 40 in the pilot below. I was thinking about the link to the movie FM and about the general attitude I remember from the show which was sometimes shambolic. Anyway the second YT clip elaborates on the music:

Here's a list of  songs that were played on the show and some hits are there but not exactly Top 40. I am amazed they played Captain Beefheart:

WKRP Songs









 

Last edited by Fitz (November 23, 2020 6:22 am)


Cool Airchecks and More:
http://www.lettheuniverseanswer.com/
 

November 23, 2020 10:19 am  #10


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

Any car radio I knew of when I was growing up, had the on/off/volume knob on the left and the tuning knob on the right. Did anyone notice in the opening credits, the hand is changing stations with the left knob?

 

November 23, 2020 10:37 am  #11


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

At one station I worked at, the MD/swing announcer was a gentleman who bore quite a resemblance to a younger Johnny Fever.  He even had "booger" as his licence plate until the one day years later the ministry of transportation revoked it for being "offensive".
 

 

November 23, 2020 12:18 pm  #12


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/gooker.jpg

 

November 23, 2020 3:39 pm  #13


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

JARF, RA and all the others...thank you for your replies.. I appreciate you all taking the time to reply.  I learn so much from this board and appreciate the generosity of all the members who take the time to share their knowledge.

Your insights are great and RA I love the anecdotes;  especially the "Canada in Focus" story.  I laughed out loud when I read that.  You and others could write a great book of radio recollections..

Last edited by Media Observer (November 23, 2020 3:40 pm)

 

November 23, 2020 4:05 pm  #14


Re: Gary Sandy (AKA Andy Travis) Recalls WKRP's Famous "Turkey" Episode

I'm glad you enjoyed those old tales. I used to work for something called "Newsradio" (not the TV show!), a news voice service similar to the more well known Broadcast News (not the movie!) out of The Canadian Press. We would write copy and assemble reports and send them out to client stations across Canada for use in their newscasts. It was owned by the company that controlled CKEY and was my first real radio job when I graduated from college.

We used to be able to isolate the stations we wanted to send stuff to, so I was could access just the teletype for 'EY itself, which was in the next room, without anyone else getting it. Needless to say, I never took anything seriously, so I used to write phony news bulletins, make the bells ring on the old electric teletype, so that the news guy would have to get up and look at it, and feature ridiculous and obviously made up stories about the newscasters themselves.

In one I declared the late, great Bob Crabb had been appointed pope and upon hearing it, he reacted by saying "Holy Shit!" I added that it wasn't known whether this was a spontaneous declaration or an official papal proclamation. Sacrilegious, yes, but he got a good laugh out of it.   

Another time I wrote something really dumb about Bernie McNamee, who later went on to a long career as a CBC Radio News anchor. I can't remember the story, but I noted that it happened to "popular CKEY newscaster Bernie McNamee" in the copy. It went out, and a few minutes later more bells went off. This time, it was a correction that apologized for the previous story, which contained a major error about "the popular CKEY newscaster Bernie McNamee." 

The correction read, "he has never been popular."

These are the kinds of strange things no one knew about that we did just for fun and that kept things loose in a usually pressure cooker-filled newsroom. As the old comics used to say, "I got a million of 'em." Unfortunately, not dollars, though - this was radio, after all!  
 

     Thread Starter