“Airchecks” from WKRP in Cincinnati

When Shout Factory released the complete series of WKRP in Cincinnati several years ago, I was super excited to see so much of my favorite television show for the first time! The complete series had never been released on DVD; what had been released previously had the original music replaced by generic music to save the cost and headaches of licensing the original music. In syndication, as many as several minutes of the show was also cut to make room for more commercials.

One of my favorite episodes, and the only one actually filmed partially in Cincinnati, is “The Airplane Show”, the first episodes of the third (1980-81) season. The episode follows newsman Les Nessman as he hires a crop-duster and his World War I biplane in lieu of the traffic helicopter Andy had promised him but never delivered. As the other characters discuss their confusion regarding the change of Armistice Day to Veterans Day, Les’s pilot, a veteran himself, threatens to crash the plane with Les aboard unless a spectacle is made to celebrate veterans.

In this clip, supposed air checks of Cincinnati radio stations provide the soundtrack for the biplane’s flight over the Cincinnati riverfront and downtown. In the syndication version of this episodes, much of this scene was cut; this is the complete scene and the full complement of airchecks. Here is a list of the stations represented:

  • WCNW 1560 AM
    This is the AM neighboring Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield. Today it broadcasts religious programming, but carried Country & Western music at the time and was co-owned with 94.9 WLVV (listed below).
  • WLQA 98.5 FM
    WLQA broadcast a Beautiful Music format at the time of this episodes’s filming, but switched to Adult Contemporary and the “Warm 98” moniker later that year.
  • WVXU 91.7 FM
    WVXU was still owned by its namesake Xavier University at the time (Voice of Xavier University).
  • WCLU 1320 AM, “Big Clu Country”
    Today’s urban gospel WVCVG “The Voice” that  (in?)famously became the country’s first All-Elvis radio station in the mid-1980s broadcast a Country & Western format at the time of filming. The WCLU call letters are used now by an AM and an FM serving the Bowling Green, Kentucky market.
  • WKRC 550 AM
    At the time, 55 KRC broadcast a Middle-of-the-Road format.
  • WKRQ 101.9 FM, “Q102”
  • WSAI-FM 94.1
    WSAI-FM is now country-formatted WNNF. It’s then-sister station WSAI (AM) is also included here.
  • WAIF 88.3, “Stepchild Radio”
  • WLW 700 AM
    Back then, “The Big One” carried a Middle-of-the-Road format.
  • WUBE 1230 AM/WUBE-FM 105.1
    In 1980, AM 1230 and FM 105.1 simulcast a Country & Western format. Today WDBZ 1230 carries Rhythmic Oldies, while 105.1 WUBE-FM still carries Country.
  • WCIN 1480 AM
    The historic WCIN call sign gave way to WDJO a few years back when long-time Cincinnati radio personality Dusty Rhodes flipped the station from a short-lived Smooth Jazz format to Oldies. The 1980 Broadcasting Yearbook indicates the station’s format as “Black”, presumably the forerunner to today’s Urban format.
  • WZIP 1050 AM
    At the time a religious broadcaster, WZIP became WTSJ in 1981. I remember the call letters WCVX, but the station is now Gospel-formatted WGRI.
  • WSAI 1360 AM
    Remember when 1360 was WCKY and WSAI was 1530 AM? WSAI-FM is listed above.
  • WLVV 94.9 FM
    This Fairfield FM was co-owned with WCNW 1560 (listed above) in 1980. Today it’s WREW.
  • WEBN 102.7 FM
    Indeed, even WEBN is heard in this clip. Presumably, they were not broadcasting from high atop Frog’s Mountain (Mount Adams) at the time; the Broadcasting Yearbook shows the station located on Hyde Park Square.

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