No, Real Radio Isn’t Like What We Saw on WKRP

Now that WKRP in Cincinnati is out on DVD with most of the original music intact (getting that straight was a licensing nightmare), a new generation of people is discovering the show. And that means I’m once again getting questions like “Is working at a radio station really like working at WKRP?”

No. No, it’s not.

  • The studio equipment is all wrong.
  • None of the DJs ever seem to wear headphones. How do they hear the music or themselves when they’re on the air?
  • ONE cart machine?
  • Where are the rest of the DJs? We have Johnny Fever in the morning and Venus in the evening. Who does middays and drive? What about overnights and weekends?
  • The station’s format is totally bonkers. And it’s an AM station. No wonder WKRP had lousy ratings.
  • Herb Tarlek dresses too well to be a real-life salesman.
  • No one would ever get fired for saying “booger” on the air.

But that doesn’t make the show any less fun–even after you read this NPR article that further dissects the show. And I can tell you that more than 30 years after the show went off the air, one of the first things any new announcer learns to say is “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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