Happy Thanksgiving. We hope you all had a great day despite everything that is going on. When it comes to Thanksgiving-themed TV episodes, there is one that stands out from all the rest. That episode is Turkeys Away from the first season of WKRP in Cincinnati in 1978.
WKRP General Manager, Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson, decides to do a Thanksgiving promotion that involves dropping 40 live turkeys from a helicopter over a shopping center. As you can imagine, it doesn’t go well and it is being covered live on the air by reporter Les Nessman. At the end of the show, Mr. Carlson covered in feathers says “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” That may be the best remembered line from the entire show’s history.
The episode was inspired by a real-life event. Show creator Hugh Wilson was working at a top 40 radio station in Atlanta when he was told about a similar promotion that involved throwing live turkeys out of the back of a pickup truck. That proved messy as well!
WKRP in Cincinnati aired its last episode this week back in 1982. The show aired for four seasons starting in Sept 1978.
The show was created by Hugh Wilson and was based on his experience working at top forty radio station, WQKI in Atlanta. Originally airing on Monday nights at 8 pm, the show had to go up against Welcome Back Kotter and Little House on the Praire. Ratings were not good and the show actually went on hiatus for eight weeks. When it returned, the ratings went up thanks to being in a great time slot right after M*A*S*H. CBS moved the show back to Monday at 8 pm during the second season. The show continued to move around and each time, it lost viewers.
The final show aired on April 21, 1982, and was actually ranked at #7 in the weekly ratings. In the years following the cancellation, the show became a hit in syndication. Due to this success, a spinoff, The New WKRP in Cincinnati was created for syndication in 1991 and aired for two seasons.
Click the image to watch the 1st episode of WKRP in Cincinnati via Amazon Prime.