From Rodney Ho at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who re-posts this item every year:
The show was created by former Atlanta ad executive Hugh Wilson, who based some of the characters and antics from QXI, a powerhouse Atlanta top 40 station back when AM radio ruled.
Dr. Johnny Fever, played by Howard Hessemen, was based in part on “Skinny” Bobby Harper of WQXI. Carlson, the general manager played by Gordon Jump, was based in part on Jerry Blum, the WQXI general manager. Fashion-challenged Herb Tarleck (Frank Bonner) was a stand-in for long-time Atlanta radio executive Clarke Brown.
According to Blum’s son Gary, this disaster was inspired by a much less horrific turkey giveaway Blum supposedly conjured up in the late 1950s in Dallas for KBOX when he dropped turkeys off a flatbed pickup truck in a shopping center parking lot.
Gary told me years later that his dad never did anything like that again. “The public went nuts fighting over the turkeys and it was a mess,” Blum said. “That was about the whole story. Hugh Wilson, the writer of the series, was a friend of the station when he was in the ad business in Atlanta. He used that story, along with other funny stories, and embellished them to come up with the many story lines on ‘WKRP.’ To my knowledge, the turkey drop was never repeated.”
Blum told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1996 that he actually uttered the words, “I didn’t know turkeys couldn’t fly, ” similar to Carlson’s words on the show.
But wait: there’s more. Read on.