FACT: WKRP Turkey Drop Was Based On A REAL Event
Every year, the day before Thanksgiving, my listeners ask me to play that famous television moment from the TV show WKRP.
"Turkey's Away" was the name of the episode.
A shopping center parking lot is BOMBED by live turkeys as a publicity stunt by the radio station.
Did you know the WKRP Turkey Drop episode was based on a real event?
WKRP's creator, Hugh Wilson, had worked at WQXI. Jerry Blum, who was the general manager of WQXI, told Hugh that he had been fired from a Texas station for throwing turkeys out of a helicopter. "You just won me an Emmy. That's really funny," said Hugh.
After "Turkeys Away" stations across the country started Thanksgiving promotions, capitalizing on the episode.
Stations did not DROP turkeys. They would giveaway coupons and certificates to listeners who then could pick up a turkey from their local supermarkets. By not live ones.
"Turkey's Away" was ranked by TV Guide as one of the greatest episodes in TV history.
The episode premiered in 1978 and was only the show's seventh episode.
No one involved with the show knew how popular the episode would become or that it would become a classic moment in TV history.
Some of you might have caught the historical reference by Richard Sanders, who played Les in WKRP. He studied a recording of Herbert Morrison's live broadcast of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster and mimicked it.
One of my favorite moments in the show is how Les explains what happened after.
Apparently the turkeys gathered together and revolted.
So just when we thought that the episode could not get any funnier we hear our news reporter Les offer his account of how a flock of pissed off turkeys attacked as an organized group.
But hold on. There is one more famous line.
The boss walks out of the studio and says, "As God as my witness, I thought turkey's cold fly."
Bonus fun fact: Turkeys can fly. I've seen them do it.
But just the wild ones, and only for short distances.