Have you ever heard the song that inspired WKRP in Cincinnati?
Dr. Johnny Fever can perhaps thank the "Cat's in the Cradle" singer for his existence.
"I am the morning DJ on W.O.L.D. / Playing all the hits for you wherever you may be." So goes the chorus to Harry Chapin's "W.O.L.D."
The ditty about an aging disc jockey was released at the end of 1973. The fading radio star of the song was "playing all the hits for you, playing them night and day." He was "the bright good morning voice who's heard but never seen. Feeling all of forty-five, going on fifteen."
The song is about a DJ who has regrets but has chosen his lot in life spinning discs. Sounds similar to the melancholy fellow who was "living in the air in Cincinnati... tired of packing and unpacking, town to town, up and down the dial," no?
Well, there is a reason. The story goes that Hugh Wilson, creator of WKRP in Cincinnati, heard this song and thought it'd make a great sitcom premise. As WKRP proved, the series creator's ear was not wrong.
Chapin, best known for "Cat's in the Cradle," found his inspiration for "W.O.L.D." in a real-life DJ named Jim Connors, the Boston record-spinner credited with discovering Chapin. A pay-it-forward scenario, if you will. Well, if you can consider lines like "Got a spot on the top of my head, begging for a new toupee" a tribute.
"W.O.L.D." only climbed to No. 36 on the Billboard pop chart, but Chapin got a lot of use out of it, changing the call letters to a local station on his tour stops. We wonder if he sang "WKRP" during gigs in Cincinnati.
Take a listen.