7 interesting facts about WKRP in Cincinnati's "Turkeys Away," episode

We all love that famous line: "As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!"

Image credit: The Everett Collection

We are just days away from Thanksgiving. Can't you just smell turkey being made already?

With Thanksgiving comes some of the best Thanksgiving-themed episodes from classic TV shows. What's better than bonding with the family over a turkey leg and a TV show?

WKRP in Cincinnati's episode "Turkeys Away," leads the list as one of the most iconic Thanksgiving episodes from a TV show, ever.

The episode follows Mr. Carlson's decision to launch a Thanksgiving promotion, where a routine turkey giveaway becomes a comedic catastrophe.

Here are seven of the most interesting facts about WKRP in Cincinnati's episode "Turkeys Away." Tell us your favorite "Turkeys Away," quote or moment below!

1. This episode was ranked by TV Guide as one of the greatest episodes in TV history


"Turkeys Away," is considered to be one of the greatest Thanksgiving-themed episodes of classic TV. The episode was even 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 expected the episode to have one of the most popular and well-known Thanksgiving episodes that TV had ever seen. Even the creator, Hugh Wilson, didn't see it coming.

2. "Turkeys Away" was based on a real incident


The episode may seem too zany to be true, but "Turkeys Away," is actually loosely based on real events.

The real event occured when series creator, Hugh Wilson, worked at the radio station WQXI in Atlanta. In an interview with the Archive of American Television he said "Jerry Blum, who was the general manager of WQXI, told me that he had been fired from a Texas station for throwing turkeys out of a helicopter. I said to Jerry, 'You just won me an Emmy. That's really funny.'"

3. A Pink Floyd song was meant to be in the episode


When aired in syndication, Mr. Carlson comes into the radio booth with an unkown song playing in the background. The unkown song featured the sound of dogs barking. 

When WKRP originally aired, the song playing in the background was Pink Floyd's "Dogs."

Due to licensing issues, the Pink Floyd song was removed after the orginal air date. Do you remember hearing "Dogs," by Pink Floyd during the episode?

4. The episode originally aired before Halloween


Even though the episode features turkeys, all things Thanksgiving and more... it actually came out before Halloween! Its original air date was October 30th, 1978.

It's never too early for "Turkeys Away."

5. Many local radio stations started the promotion in real life


After "Turkeys Away" aired, many radio stations across the country started the same Thanksgiving promotion as the one featured in the show. 

Many of these radio stations would giveaway coupons and certificates to listeners who then could pick up a turkey from their local supermarkets. (Don't worry, they weren't alive turkeys).

Richard Sanders was often paid to appear as Les Nessman and broadcast the event live.

6. The shopkeeper in the episode was the writing partner of Richard Sanders


You may remember the scene where the shopkeeper rudely tells Les to get away from his storefront. 

The only guest star in "Turkeys Away" is Michael Fairman, who played the owner of a shoe store.

Fairman may have had a small part in the episode, but he had a larger role outside. Fairman co-wrote five episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati and went on to appear in shows such as: Cheers, JAG, Taxi and many more.

7. The history behind the line "Oh, the humanity!"


Richard Sanders, who played Les in WKRP, prepared for the "Turkeys Away," episode by studying a recording of Herbert Morrison's live broadcast of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster.

Bonus fun fact: Turkeys can indeed fly


It's true that domestic turkeys can't fly. However, wild turkeys can fly short distances. 

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BorisK 7 months ago
No matter the episode -- Bailey was Hot.
JaeW 7 months ago
Will MeTv be airing WKRP turkey show soon?
StrayCat 20 months ago
WJRP should have lasted at least one more season, and perhaps two more. I have no idea why it didn't because it was doing fairly well in the ratings.
Lacey StrayCat 20 months ago
Everyone on the show seemed surprised as WKRP was still in the top-rated show when the network pulled the plug. At that time, with only three networks dominating the airwaves, networks were fighting hard to have a signature presence. There was also a lot of fighting between the show and network executives over the content and WKRP was moved around quite a lot in its short run.
tootsieg 20 months ago
Watching the infamous Turkey WKRP episode and the Cheers Thanksgiving episode on Sunday was so much fun. I hope both are shown year after year around Thanksgiving time.
Thanks MeTV for all the laughs.
pops1 20 months ago
WKRP wasn't just funny, it was timely. For example when they did the show about people trampled at the who concert because of festival seating and the call to change it. I've experienced it, very scarry. That episode was only weeks after it happened.
MartinWSchwartz 20 months ago
I have a WKRP t-shirt and whenever I wear it people invariable points and say, "As God as my witness..." These people may never quote a word of Ibsen or Shakespeare, but they know a classic line when they hear it.
BruceBeckwith 20 months ago
I think what makes this episode so unique is that it relies on the concept of "Theater of the Mind". None of what Les describes is ever shown on screen. It all exists in the minds of the audience. Turkeys Away is an old time radio show on a television episode. A very clever idea.
MaryMitch BruceBeckwith 20 months ago
Great point! Like the shark in Jaws, it's scarier when you don't actually see it.
Clcorwin717 20 months ago
Alice Cooper got part of his reputation as a weird guy when he tossed chickens into an audience
jaelinsmith40652 20 months ago
🦃 this I'll be a great Thanksgiving Weekend MeTV.
Oldwatcher73 20 months ago
F5Twitster 20 months ago
"No one expected the episode to have one of the most popular and well-known Thanksgiving episodes that TV had ever seen."

You mean that no one expected the show to BE one of the most popular and BEST-known Thanksgiving episodes...

You people really are clueless as to the workings of the English language.
Pacificsun F5Twitster 20 months ago
Actually not. If you want to change the sentence referenced then it should read as suggested.

“𝘕𝘰 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 television 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘢𝘴 𝘞𝘒𝘙𝘗 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘥𝘶𝘤𝘦 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘱𝘰𝘱𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘦𝘱𝘪𝘴𝘰𝘥𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 television known as “𝘛𝘶𝘳𝘬𝘦𝘺𝘴 𝘈𝘸𝘢𝘺.”

1. When writing it helps to be specific. Don’t over-estimate the understanding of your readers.

2. For accuracy spell out your acronyms and abbreviations. For example TV stands for television.

3. No need to hyphenate (meaning connect) “BEST” and the word “known.” The adjective “BEST” refers to what degree that the word “known” is being emphasized. The purpose of the phrase is to make a comparative reference to communicate “how well known” something happens to be.

4. Style, in terms of consistency and perspective (some would call it proportional balance), the idea of unnecessarily capitalizing some words rather than others, defeats the idea (goal) of writing with fundamental and flowing clarity. In other words, it’s distracting. Check the relative attention made by any word in the material. Meaning the word “best” is a description which already speaks for itself. Not to be overly pedantic, but by definition there is nothing better than best. Meaning, that capitalizing the word is a superfluous effort which is distracting and unnecessary. And a writer aims to be concise.

5. When the title of an episode is quoted it should be italicized. I wasn’t sure about this one so I copied a reference from the internet (see the attached image).

6. The more a writer takes time to look up questions or doubts, the more they learn in the process.

7. But more so, writing is the art of experience and observation.

8. However inexperience shouldn’t overshadow a creative writing effort when the subject is accurately researched and presented with enthusiasm, and ideally with good intention. Just as this one is.

I hope the tips help with your next effort to edit material. I'm sure they're appreciated. 🎁 Have a good holiday season!

Michael F5Twitster 20 months ago
"No one expected the show to have one of the most popular and BEST-known Thanksgiving episodes...".

So it's a slam aganst the show?
perrymason777 Pacificsun 20 months ago
And he dropped the mic 🎤 and strutted off!!!"" God bless you my friend!!!" God bless you all today ❤ 🙏 Shalom
ELEANOR F5Twitster 20 months ago
"No one expected the episode to have one of the most popular and well-known Thanksgiving episodes that TV had ever seen."

Another way to make this sentence better is:
"No one expected this episode to be the most popular Thanksgiving episode that has ever been seen!"

ShanaHyneman Pacificsun 19 months ago
"6. The more a writer takes time to look up questions or doubts, the more they learn in the process."

While I appreciate your desire to correct someone else's grammar and word usage in such a thorough and condescending manner, presenting a statement where the tenses don't agree casts somewhat of a doubt upon your superiority in my humble opinion. I could go on and on with other corrections as you chose to do, but I will be satisfied with pointing out the most glaring error. I will not engage with you any further, but wanted to point out I believe there is room for improvement in all of our writing skills.
Pacificsun ShanaHyneman 19 months ago
I'm intrigued that there's been an attempt to correct what is believed to be a mistake. No worries, I've improved the sentence which reads even better now.

𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘢 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘶𝘱 𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘰𝘳 𝘥𝘰𝘶𝘣𝘵𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴.

The sentence reminded me to check on the observation which actually doesn't have to do with tense.

𝘐 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘨𝘰 𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘢𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘰, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘐 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘴𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘱𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘨𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘰𝘳.

This is an old writing trick trying to make a point through exaggeration. And yet it is cowardly by using a suggestion rather than a specific. It's still a good example of superiority however.

𝘐 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘦𝘯𝘨𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘧𝘶𝘳𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘵 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘐 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘳𝘰𝘰𝘮 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘴.

I can only hope that the promise is kept. While I not only agree, I do feel sorry for people going out of their way to be negative instead of useful. Or by missing the point of the original reaction, which is confirmed by this exchange.

𝒩𝑜𝓌 𝐼'𝓂 𝓃𝑜𝓉 𝓈𝓊𝓇𝑒 𝒾𝒻 𝐼 𝓈𝒽𝑜𝓊𝓁𝒹 𝒷𝑒 𝑔𝓇𝒶𝓉𝑒𝒻𝓊𝓁 𝑜𝓇 𝓈𝒶𝒹.


CreatureFeatureFan 20 months ago
I remember hearing "Dogs". And Mr. Carlson asking Fever what he was playing.
What a great show.
top_cat_james_1 20 months ago
"Due to licensing issues, the Pink Floyd song was removed after the original air date. Do you remember hearing "Dogs," by Pink Floyd during the episode?"

Wrong again, MeTV staff--I distinctly remember that scene in the syndicated reruns.
The article says the song "Dogs" by Pink Floyd was playing in the background of the scene when the episode originally aired. However, due to licensing issues, the song was deleted from the episode and was replaced by the sound of dogs barking in the background in that scene before it was distributed for syndication. The article never states the entire scene was deleted from the episode in syndication, which is what you have seen...an episode with only dogs barking in the background of the scene which is not "Dogs" by Pink Floyd. So the MeTV staff are correct.
lakeys_dad top_cat_james_1 20 months ago
May I suggest a book, please, Mr Top_Cat?

Reading Comprehension Grade 1 for Improvement of Reading & Conveniently Used: 1st Grade Reading Comprehension Workbooks for 1st Graders to Combine Fun & Education Together https://a.co/d/905wytx
KjReynolds 20 months ago
Funniest television episode EVER!
ERROL 20 months ago
Watched orig air, LMAO, and still do when I can watch
Jon 20 months ago
MIchael Fairman also played a General in the movie "I Dream of Jeannie - 15 Years Later".
bagandwallyfan52 20 months ago
It's too bad that no producers ever made a Beetle Bailey sitcom or
Movie.Loni Anderson would have been perfect to play Miss Buxley
General Halftracks secretary.
bagandwallyfan52 20 months ago
A long time ago I thought that
Actresses Jan Smithers AKA
AND Marcia Strassman AKA
who were 2 character actors who
BOTH APPEARED ON Gomer Pyle USMC and other TV SHOWS and
Movies also looked alike and
Also Bruce Gordon of The Untouchables and Anthony Caruso
Who wanted Gomer Pyle to sing
Oh My Papa in his nightclub.
Deleted 20 months ago
This comment has been removed.
bagandwallyfan52 20 months ago
JOHNNY FEVER (Howard Hesseman)
(Days Our Lives -NBC.
bagandwallyfan52 20 months ago
Stephen Nichols played Steve
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