As God as my witness I thought turkeys could fly!
Arthur Carlson, GM, WKRP, Cincinnati
Almost anyone who has worked in radio has a story about a station promotion that went off the rails. Perhaps the most famous “splat” was in the classic WKRP episode Turkeys Away. What most people don’t know about Turkeys Away is that it was based on a promotion that actually happened.
(Scroll down to see the most famous scene from Turkeys Away.)
Hugh Wilson, the creator of WKRP, based the series on people and events that happened at WQXI, a highly rated Top 40 station in Atlanta. Wilson, an advertising agency copy writer, hung around with folks who worked at WQXI.
When Wilson moved to Los Angeles to write for Mary Tyler Moore (MTN) Productions he pitched the idea of the show that became WKRP to Grant Tinker, the head of MTN.
Tinker bought it and CBS-TV gave it the green light. WKRP debuted in fall 1979.
|The WQXI DJs back in the day|
Wilson was looking for a Thanksgiving-themed holiday program in 1980.
He remembered an incident that his friends at WQXI told him about when the station sponsored a turkey giveaway promotion.
WQXI staged the free turkey event at a strip mall in Atlanta. They planned to toss live turkeys off the back of truck and let people in the assembled crowd catch their own holiday bird.
But, it turned out that the turkeys were not live, they were frozen. So, the WQXI DJs decided to throw the frozen turkeys to the crowd instead.
That was a big mistake. The frozen turkeys hit the ground with big splats causing an unbelievable mess. That true story was morphed into WKRP’s Turkeys Away. It became a huge hit and saved WKRP from being cancelled.
Here is the famous scene from Turkeys Away:
Spark News will return after the Thanksgiving break.