Gordon Jump (Photo: AP)
||Should I attempt to explain "WKRP In Cincinnati"?
I take it for granted that everyone knows what I'm talking about, though
now that I check my calendar, I notice that it's been 20 years since the
show was aired, and I know a number of people who weren't even alive then,
so perhaps just a quick word -- it was a TV show about the people who
worked at a second-tier radio station in Cincinnati. There was a program
director with good hair, an oily ad salesman, eccentric DJs, the station
owner (Jump's character, Mr. Carlson), and Bailey Quarters -- I've never
known what she did exactly -- something to do with station promotions and
events -- played by Jan Smithers. Know that even now, the thought of her
gives my heart a little flutter.
Now, I will be first in line when the call goes out for rarefied
intellectuals to trash television sitcoms. As a rult, they're forgettable.
They're not Shakespeare. They're barely worth bothering with. And yet, in
the day when television came on 12 channels, when a single company would sponsor
a show, and when I didn't control the remote, WKRP, for some
reason, meant something to me. It was funny and well-written, and that
last point is important to me. You don't talk about something you saw on
TV 20 years ago if it wasn't written well. A carp as a mascot. Herb
Tarlek's belts. Les Nessman's bandage. Jan Smithers.
Hum the theme song, and like that, it's 1980, and I'm high school, at a
point in my life where the future was wide open, and the choices seemed
limitless. That's how I feel when I think about The Mighty KRP. For 22
minutes, I'm young again. And for that I thank you.
(Jump died on Monday, 22 September 2003. He was 71.)