Wednesday, November 25, 2015


When Thanksgiving gets close I can’t help but think of the classic WKRP episode Turkeys Away when the station gave away turkeys by dropping them from a helicopter over a Cincinnati shopping mall.  WKRP GM Arthur Carlson had the quote of the moment: As God as my witness I thought turkeys could fly!

Here is a four minute clip from the episode:

Almost everyone who has worked in radio has a story about a station promotion that went out of control. Turkeys Away is somewhat based on a real incident that happened at WQXI, Atlanta. WKRP creator and producer Hugh Wilson worked at WQXI before he moved to LA.  Many of the people and incidents in the show were based on WQXI.

The excellent blog Classic TV History [link] published an interview with Wilson and others involved with WKRP. In this interview, former WQXI executive Clarke Brown, tells the true story of the turkey drop:

CLARKE BROWN: The turkey drop was actually a real incident.  It was at a shopping center in Atlanta; I think it was Broadview Plaza, which no longer exists.  It was a Thankgiving promotion.  We thought that we could throw these live turkeys out into the crowd for their Thanksgiving dinners.  All of us, naïve and uneducated, thought that turkeys could fly.  Of course, they went just fuckin’ splat.
People were laughing at us, not with us.  But it became a legend.  [But, in reality] the turkeys were thrown off the back of a truck.
Have a nice Thanksgiving folks!  See you on Monday.

1 comment:

  1. Here's the thing: turkeys CAN fly, sort of. If you've ever had a flock of wild turkeys cruising around your neighborhood (a relatively common occurrence in southern New England) you'll see that they can fly a little bit. Not sustained flight, but they can flap hard enough to get up to a fencepost or the top of a one-story roof. If dropped out of a helicopter, assuming it wasn't TOO high off the ground, they could probably flap enough to ensure a safe landing.

    Now of course the reason the wild turkeys can do this is because they're wild! They're not fattened up ridiculously for sale to the supermarket. You can easily see this...a wild turkey is much, much leaner and more mobile than a farm turkey. They probably clip the wings somewhat, too, so they can't escape.

    So yes, a farm turkey for purposes of a stunt like this would almost certainly fall like a brick and go splat. Yuck.