Did the WKRP Thanksgiving ‘Turkey Drop’ Actually Happen?
Back in 1971, KHMO Farm Director Dick McHargue emceed the Hull Centennial Queen Contest. He needed to fill some time before the crowning of the queen, so he told a story.
It was about a radio station in Decatur, Illinois that thought it would be a good idea to stage a promotion at a local shopping center at Thanksgiving time. It involved dropping turkeys from an airplane, assuming the turkeys would leave the plane, take flight and land safety.
Just one problem - these were domesticated turkey, which do not fly. So, they fell - onto to the parking lot, through windshields and roofs of houses.
Fast forward to November 27, 1978. In an episode of "WKRP in Cincinnati." General Manager Arthur Carlson is feeling a little left out of the day-to-day operation of his station since it's change to a rock and roll format. So, he comes up with a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway promotion. All he shares with the staff is that Sales Manager Herb Tarlik has been directed to get 20 live turkeys for a live broadcast.
And then, this happens ...
By the way, the creators of WKRP said in an interview that this episode was based on a real Thanksgiving promotion at a shopping center in Atlanta.
Wherever the misguided radio promotion originated, it became sitcom gold, and is still a classic moment 43 years later.