WKRP Turkey Drop Episode Was Based on Real Incident
There aren't many Thanksgiving episodes of situation comedies that tend to stick in the memory of the American consciousness. The WKRP in Cincinnati Turkey Drop episode however, is one that defies that mainstream thinking. For my money, it just might be the funniest Thanksgiving themed sit-com episode ever made.
The episode centers around radio station WKRP's Thanksgiving promotion. The basic idea was to lure an audience to a shopping center and then drop turkeys from a helicopter to the waiting throngs below. Now, dropping stuff from a helicopter is not a new radio promotion idea, however dropping objects that weigh more than bowling balls does not meet the criteria for "good idea".
Up until just recently, I thought the episode was written for TV. It was probably based on a lot of failed radio promotions but the script writers combined all of those bad ideas into the mother of all bad ideas. But as it turns out, the WKRP Turkey drop was based on a real life radio promotion that went almost as badly as the made for TV one did.
A story posted on the MeTV website revealed the story behind the story in an interview with Hugh Wilson. Wilson was the co-writer of "Turkeys Away" the official name of the episode. Wilson said he was told a story by a gentleman named Jerry Blum. Jerry was employed at a Dallas radio station when the "real life" turkey incident was alleged to have occurred. Read the entire MeTV article right here.
Some stories of the incident suggest the turkey drop happened in Atlanta when Jerry Blum was at WQXI, but based on information from Blum's son the turkey fiasco actually happened in Dallas while the elder Mr. Blum was employed KBOX radio. But instead of dropping turkeys from a helicopter, station personnel propelled the large flightless birds out of the back of a moving pickup truck.
The turkeys still hit the ground with a thud and those that weren't knocked unconscious or stunned probably created quite a stir by "attacking" the crowd. We don't know that but we can only assume since turkeys are not the friendliest birds on the planet.
So, let this be a lesson to you, keep listening to your favorite radio station. Maybe some stupid disc jockey trick or contest will someday wind-up as a classic episode on one of your favorite sitcoms. Oh, your station just does "caller number seven"? How boring, you need to come over to the fun side and play along with us at this station.
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Gallery Credit: Bruce Mikells