How WKRP And Howard Hesseman Influenced My Radio Career
This year is really going down in the books as the year we are losing plenty of our legends in the entertainment world. This past Saturday, January 29, the news came of the passing of actor and comedian Howard Hesseman. While the younger generation may not be familiar with him, I have been a fan since the early '80s. He was literally an inspiration for my current career which I have been doing for over thirty years.
I have always had an infatuation with radio and the voices behind it. In my hometown, I literally knew all of the deejays and would call them on a regular basis. I would hang out with them during their shows and would help out where ever possible. I wasn't getting paid during this time, but it allowed me the chance to watch and learn. Then this show came on television and in my eyes, there was no other show like it ever. It was a show that was about my passion and what I had grown to love. At the time I didn't know that they weren't really deejays, although Hesseman actually did work at a radio station temporarily to prepare for the role. However, between Venus Flytrap, played by another great actor Tim Reid and Johnny Fever, I was hooked and literally watched every episode including the reboot in the nineties.
Watching Howard Hesseman as Johnny Fever take over the microphone and basically do what he wanted to do even if it meant breaking a few rules was something that I had never seen. Sure some of those things are taboo and not permissible today, but there was something about seeing him in action and those wonderful call letters of WKRP.
I remember several nights when I was younger and I would play music all night in my room with a fake microphone and act like I was actually talking to an audience out there. I eventually get the opportunity to do what I love and have been doing this for over 3 decades. Hesseman eventually went on to work on other shows like 'Head of The Class' and also did some directing, but he will forever be known as the rebel deejay who was always exciting on the radio Johnny Fever. R.I.P Johnny and thanks so much for the inspiration to this young kid from Mississippi.