Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Living On The Air In The DVD Section

Countless local radio types credit one thing for their career in the business - the late 70's-early 80's TV show "WKRP in Cincinnati".

And it only seems that we've been waiting that long for the DVD version of the show, the first season of which is released in stores today.

Not only is there that inspiration, there's also the Ohio connection...the southwest Ohio city which served as the home of the fictional radio station in the CBS sitcom.

As would befit a newspaper headquartered in the Queen City, the Cincinnati Enquirer has put up a number of articles, quizzes and even videos to accompany the release date.

Enquirer TV/radio guru John Kiesewetter weighs in with a bunch of stories in Sunday's paper, such as this one about people so drastically affected by "WKRP" that they either moved to Cincinnati, or went to college there, after seeing the show. One Danish teenager was so taken, she got into an exchange student program that sent her to Cincinnati - where she still lives today.

But our favorite "WKRP" bit on the Enquirer's website is a video by Enquirer photographer Glenn Hartong, with Kiese's help, recreating the original 'KRP opening sequence with today's Cincinnati landscape.

For one, Paul Brown Stadium is there now, and Riverfront Stadium is not. The video compares the original opening sequence (with music) to today's Cincinnati, side-by-side. It's linked from all of the WKRP stories on Cincinnati.com - we don't want to put up the window-laden direct video link here.

Kiese has much more, including a behind-the-scenes of that recreation and some other stuff that wouldn't fit in print, on his TV/radio blog.

And yes, there is that music thing.

As has now been made clear, the "WKRP" DVD has been excised of much of the music which served as a soundtrack to the original show. (A Canadian magazine writer, Jaime Weinman, has a pretty extensive list of the substitutions here.)

While the show's original producer, MTM, used videotape instead of film for the very same reason - music rights costs - those rights don't transfer to the world of DVD. And, including the same "real" music from popular artists of the day would apparently drive the cost of the DVD set into the stratosphere. We believe there was music substitution even on the original VHS tape release.

This is only a small problem in some places on the show - but musical interludes provide a number of the show's turning points in a number of episodes. The music issues even forced them to take "Fly Me To The Moon" off of Jennifer Marlowe's world-famous apartment doorbell.

Still, short of charging over $100 (just our guess) for the first season's DVD set - which would mean very little sales - this was the only way they could get it out on the market.

So, we're resigned to it, and sigh at the thought of a Russian defector calling the one and only Bailey Quarters "terrible dresser" (we guess it was a dub for "Tiny Dancer", as in that song removed), but realize that many other scenes have no major music connection - like the infamous "Turkey's Away!" that even non-regular WKRP viewers know.

And there's still a lot to like about WKRP, even without some key musical interludes.

And yes, Cincy is one of those towns which jumps and jumps when a local connection is big news in the national media, so the 'KRP stuff on local media there this week may seem a bit excessive.

But remember, Cleveland, we have all those Drew Carey newspaper stories...


Anonymous said...

WKRP is ruined without the original music. I bought a bootleg of the entire series, complete with all the music. $60. Worth every penny. Forget the "new" version. It is a joke.

Anonymous said...

OMW, in the words of the immortal Sam Wyche, you don't live in Cincinnati, you live in Cleveland.

Anonymous said...

And the immortal Sam Wyche lives in North Carolina.

74WIXYgrad said...

If it doesn't take from the story line then I can live with the music subs.

Anonymous said...

Try waching the Thanksgiving episode, with JF in the studio while Pink Floyd's "Dogs" is playing.

Losing the music kills the show.

Don't buy this poor excuse of a torn apart show.


Anonymous said...

I was just starting out in radio when this show was on and I thought they must have had a spy in our station when watching some of these episodes. Some of these characters in the show could have been lifted right out of our station [which will remain nameless just in case any of them are still employed in the business]. Fun times, but with the original music taken out of it I don't think I'll spend any of my hard earned money on the DVD.

Anonymous said...

"Try waching the Thanksgiving episode, with JF in the studio while Pink Floyd's "Dogs" is playing."


"Is that dogs barking on that song"


"I hope so"


That would be .. quite simply .. impossible to replicate to any possible meaning of comedy.

I mean .. c'mon. It's Floyd. That *IS* the comedy.

Pink Floyd "Animals" on TV. How cool was THAT show?

Omygosh. The best.

Scott Fybush said...

I'm so torn on this.

On the one hand, I really want these DVDs. My stack of VHS tapes from the Nick at Nite run just doesn't cut it, not one bit, and I don't want to go out and buy the bootlegs, because Hugh Wilson and his crew deserve my $$ for the work they put in to create the greatest TV show about radio, ever.

But it doesn't appear that Fox lived up to its original "we'll only make minor music substitutions, when we absolutely have no other choice" promise, either.

I'd have much rather shelled out $50 or $60 (or even a little more) for a set that cleared at least the key pieces of music ("Dogs," "Hot Blooded") than to spend the $20 or so it'll cost me after discounts for the stripped-down version.

But I also don't want Fox to play the "season one didn't sell, so we're giving up on the remaining seasons" card, either. Argh.

BTW, Hugh Wilson supposedly spent some time in MY market, too, and there's a rumor (which I've never confirmed) that he almost titled the show "WKRP in Rochester."

THAT would have been cool.

Anonymous said...

Check the credits. I heard that Dave Dial's father was on the crew. "Somebody" Dial .. I don't know enough about the situation to say definitively what the guy's name was.

Rumor is that's the reason HE got in to radio .. and I gotta say, as said in the post .. probably a reason I did too.

I can't begin to imagine my dad being involved with the show. That would be cool, too.

(And I agree .. Les Nessman to "Hot Blooded" .. can't really recreate that. It's worthless.)

Anonymous said...


That's just about the stupidest thing I have EVER heard in my life.

I'm a poor kid that grew up in a TRAILER PARK in LODI. I graduated from Cloverleaf.

And completely beyond that .. *I* am about the most unimportant, insignificant, completely and utterly invisible in the scene of "Northeast Ohio Media" than anybody possibly can be. In no manner, shape, facet or form should I be mentioned here. If I caught on fire while leaping from the Terminal Tower, the story would be how big the blood stain I would make would be.

I'm just an announcer on some podunct, backwater, tiny little radio station in some agriculturally driven market.

And to be brutally honest, my talent level is truly on the edge of embarrasing. The only reason I could envision anyone listening to it, if they happen to be driving by the station so they could actually hear it, would be the same reason people watch train accidents. The presentation is one of those styles that borders on "Is this guy serious or is he *really* attempting to do this ON PURPOSE?"

I'm just not on the intergalactic radar when it comes to the subject matter of this blog.

And for the original subject of that poster, who would even care WHY I got in to radio?

My dad's name was Charles Dial. He was a small town cop in Lodi. That's about as far from a producer .. or whatever ..for a television series as you can possibly get.

Well, at least the post made me laugh. Ludicrous, the soul of comedy.

- Dave Dial

\-and don't delete this. It *IS* me. It *IS* the brutal truth. Call me at WQKT if you don't believe it, 264-5122/-

Scott Fybush said...

Ah...but there was a "Dial" on WKRP, even without the NE Ohio connection. Bill Dial was a writer and producer on the original series, and he was executive producer of the gawdawful "New WKRP" some years back.

And, perhaps most significantly, he played engineer "Bucky Dornster" in a couple of episodes of the original series.