Third Season Guide from America's Favorite Radio Station: WKRP in Cincinnati, copyright 1993, Bowling Green State University Popular Press. Reproduced here by permission, all rights reserved.
This critical episode guide is based on the author's viewing of the broadcast syndicated versions of all 90 WKRP episodes. Additional information for this guide was obtained through the author's interviews with the cast and production crew.
This episode guide is not in any way affiliated with the cast, crew, producers, distributors, or owners of the series WKRP in Cincinnati; information is presented here for critical review purposes only.
The Third Season - 1980 -1981

"The Airplane Show"
Written by Michael Fairman and Richard Sanders
Directed by Rod Daniel
Les has finally decided to take on the helicopter gap that exists between WKRP and WPIG. On the day before Veteran's day, as the PIG's "Eye in the Sky" copter reports traffic conditions, Les, in a bi-plane that he calls the "Fish Eye in the Sky," sweeps by the PIG copter and almost crashes into a bridge.

Carlson is furious with Les and grounds the newsman, forbidding him to even go to the bathroom without managerial approval. Frustrated, Les decides to go up once more on Veteran's Day. When the pilot, Buddy Barker, holds Les hostage until the people of Cincinnati hold a Veteran's Day Parade, Les begins to regret his decision. In a weird twist of events, however, the entire city of Cincinnati saves the newsman's life.
Trivia: Flying scenes from this episode were filmed in Cincinnati; Richard Sanders was actually in the plane during the stunt sequences. Sander's writing partner Michael Fairman appears as pilot Buddy Baker.
Additional Cast:
Buddy Barker..................Michael Fairman
Stunt Pilot...................Harold Johnson

"Jennifer Moves"
Written by Hugh Wilson
Directed by Rod Daniel
Jennifer soon begins to regret her decision to move into a $125,000 home in Landersville, Ohio. After just one day in her new home she has caused the break-up of one marriage, lost her piano, and had a run-in with the local suburban sex pervert. Wait, there's more - Les thinks that the house is haunted and a neighbor drops by to say that a new 14-story building is slated to be constructed at the end of the block. Welcome to the suburbs, Jennifer.

Trivia: Les had an aunt Eureka who once lived in a house just like Jennifers. It seems Eureka filled the house with birds and eventually went crazy.
Additional Cast:
Dottie Dahlquist..............Judity-Marie Bergen
Ken Dahlquist.................Terry Wills
Wayne Kraven..................Ken Kimmins
Mr. Furgood...................Dan Barrows
Policeman.....................Milt Traver
Elderly Woman.................Georgia Schmidt

"Real Families"
Written by Peter Torokvei
Directed by Rod Daniel

Cincinnati's own Herb Tarlek is the focus of an episode of "Real Families," the show that each week asks the question: "Hey America - Who are you - Really?" Despite the fact that the show has a reputation for digging up dirt on innocent people, Herb feels that he, his wife Lucille, daughter Bunny and son Little Herb can serve as an example of a clean living family. However, when hosts Phil Tarry and Elaine Parker show up with the film crew a day early the trouble begins, and Herb is painted as a liar and a bigot.
It is amazing that there can be this much humor in one half-hour; "Real Families" is perhaps WKRP's finest episode. Edie McClurg is terrific as Mrs. Tarlek, seen here in a much more developed role than the one she played in "Goodbye Johnny." There's a lot of inside humor as well, including a little jab at Little House on the Prairie, WKRP's chief competition during most of its four-year run.
Additional Cast:
Phil Tarry....................Peter Marshall
Elaine Parker.................Daphne Maxwell
Lucille Tarlek................Edie McClurg
Bunny Tarlek..................Stacy Heather Tolkin
Herb Tarlek, III..............N.P. Schoch
Vargus Enswiller..............Jim Hudson

"Hotel Oceanview"
Written by Steven Kampmann
Directed by Rod Daniel

When Andy, Herb and Carlson go off to Dayton to try and win the Vicky Von Vickey Jeans account, the trio gets more than they bargained for. Herb almost falls for a transsexual, and Carlson thinks he is being pursued by the infamous Dayton Poisoner. Needless to say, they fail to win the account.
The best moments of this episode are those that involve Herb and Nicky Sinkler, the transsexual woman who, before her operation, used to be Herb's high school pal. Interestingly enough, Frank Bonner ended up in a similar character role in a 1990 episode of Carol Burnett's Carol & Company.
Special Guest Star
Vicky Von Vicky...............Dr. Joyce Brothers
Additional Cast:
Nicky Sinkler.................Linda Carlson
Micky Broadhead...............Larry Mankin

Episode 0051
"The Baby"
Written by Blake Hunter
Directed by Rod Daniel
Carmen Carlson is ready to deliver her baby. Arthur Carlson, on the other hand, isn't looking forward to witnessing a natural childbirth. Having second thoughts, he roams around the hospital, seeking advice from the rest of the WKRP gang that has assembled for the happy occasion.

Additional Cast:
Dr. Levin.....................Andy Romano
Receptionist..................Edward Marshall
Nurse Smith...................Jacque Lynn Colton
Peggy Sue.....................Dolores Albin
Candy Striper.................Darian Mathias

"Bah, Humbug"
Written by Lissa Levin
Directed by Rod Daniel
For its second Christmas episode, WKRP gives its version of "A Christmas Carol," with the stingy Carlson haunted by the three ghosts of Christmas.

Jennifer, the first ghost, takes Carlson back to December 24, 1954, where a squeaky voiced Arthur Carlson worked as a salesman for the station. Other older employees include Dan Bassett, "the meanest newsman who ever lived," Mrs. Butterworth, the old receptionist, Mr. Armor, the kind station manager, and a young Les Nessman with hair.
Venus acts as the Ghost of Christmas present, showing Carlson his disgruntled employees. Fever then takes Carlson into the not-too-distant future. Showing that the station has become automated, he reveals that Herb, who has taken to talking to himself, is the only employee left. Bailey now runs a TV station in Chicago, Andy breeds guard dogs in New Mexico, Venus bought a clothing company called "Upwardly Mobile," and Jennifer got married and bought an island off the coast of Sardinia. Les Nessman became the Republican Whip of the U.S. Senate, and Fever just sort of "disappeared."
Upset by the horrors he has seen, Carlson gets out his check book and distributes bonuses to the staff.
A cute idea that is executed well, it is interesting to note that Hugh produced a similar Christmas show for The Amazing Teddy Z. Also, note the attention to continuity paid to the chronology of Carlson's tenure at WKRP. In "Mama's Review," Carlson said that he had been the manager of WKRP since 1955. In this episode he goes back to 1954, which, as the show reveals, was the year that Mr. Armor was fired (no doubt because he gave Christmas bonuses). There is a continuity problem with Les, however, because a 1982 episode says that the newsman had only worked at the station for 12 or 14 years.
Additional Cast:
Mr. Armor.....................Parley Baer
Don Bassett...................Don Diamond
Mrs. Butterworth..............Marie Earle

"A Mile in My Shoes"
Written by Dan Guntzelman
Directed by Rod Daniel

When Herb has to go on jury duty, Andy, thinking he'll have an easy time at landing new sales and collecting on some long overdue accounts, decides to take over sales. But things don't go as well as planned - even dressed in a sharp three-piece suit, Andy can't make a sale. He also gets hoodwinked by Smiling Al of Smiling Al's O.K. Coral RV's, an account that is $9,000 in debt.
Meanwhile, Herb, who was elected jury foreman, is having trouble getting the other 11 members to go along with his decision. Fever isn't very pleased either - Venus has become Acting P.D. and wants Fever to play Urban Contemporary music.
When Herb returns, he is fooled by Andy's fancy attire and at first thinks that he has been replaced. Andy, having a newfound appreciation for Herb's job, welcomes the salesman with open arms.
Great moment: Les has just finished reading "Black Like Me," and he wants to dye himself black and do a series of reports based on the book. Andy says he likes the idea but tells the newsman to ask Venus, the Acting P.D., for final approval
Additional Cast:
Smiling Al....................Nobel Willingham
Old Immigrant Man.............Walter Janowitz
Young Lady....................Jessica Nelson
Young Man.....................Joseph Reale

"Baby, It's Cold Inside"
Written by Blake Hunter
Directed by Rod Daniel
The furnace has gone out at the Flem building, and Fever has resorted to other means of keeping warm - in violation of FCC rules, he is drinking on the air. Jennifer joins Fever for a sip and things go along rather nicely - until Momma shows up.

But Momma is not in her typical evil mood - in fact, she's down right human, reflecting on her ex-husband Hank. She goes on to reveal that she used to work on the Broadway stage. Recounting to Jennifer how she met her husband, Momma says that Hank dropped by backstage one night and won her over with his Midwestern charm. She talks of how Hank was no good at business matters, and tells of how she stepped in to make the business a success. In the process, however, she alienated her husband, which she now seems to regret.
Soon, Lillian becomes drunk. She requests that Dr. Fever play a Gershwin tune. Lillian then goes to the bullpen, and sings "Someone To Watch Over Me" to the rest of the gang. When Arthur returns to the station, he and Momma go to the cemetery to pay their respects to Hank Carlson.
Additional Cast:
Momma Carlson.................Carol Bruce

"The Painting"
Written by Steven Kampmann
Directed by Rod Daniel
In order to score brownie points with the Big Guy, Herb attended a charity auction at Carlson's church and spent $100 on a painting he didn't even want. When Bailey falls in love with the piece, Herb gives it to her - that is, until he finds out that Carlson will buy it back from him for more money. Herb finally sells Bailey the painting, but when he learns that it was donated to the auction by the rich Mrs. Van Geesen, Herb buys the painting back for $500. Much to his dismay, Herb finds that the painting was done by the rich woman's son, who is in prison for selling qualudes and does a painting per day.


Written by Peter Torokvei
Directed by Rod Daniel
Carlson is nervous about a speech he has to deliver to the Annual Ohio Broadcaster's Dinner. In order to feel more at ease with the speech, he decides to deliver it to the WKRP gang. As Carlson discusses the history of radio, each of the staff members find themselves dosing off, day-dreaming about the lives they wish they had lead.


"Frog Story"
Written by Bob Dolman
Directed by Rod Daniel

Herb has accidentally sprayed pink paint all over his daughter Bunny's frog Greenpeace. Arriving at the station with the slowly dying frog tucked away in a shoebox, Herb tries to enlist the aid of his fellow workers in reviving the frog. After the frog dies, Herb wonders how he will break the news to his daughter.
Though he tries to replace Greenpeace with a new frog, Herb gets a case of the guilts and decides to come clean with his daughter - describing himself as a "walking fau pax (sic)," he apologizes for the accident. After all is forgiven, Bunny warns the new frog to stay away from her father.
In an interesting sub-plot, we see the sardonic side of Les as he tries to capitalize on Fever's hypochondria. When Fever begins to complain of a cold, Les tries to convince the Doctor that it may actually be a more serious disease.
Additional Cast
Dr. Hunnisett.................Kenneth Tigar
Bunny Tarlek..................Stacy Heather Tolkin

"Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide, Part I"
"Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide, Part II"
Written by Steve Marshall
Directed by Rod Daniel

Fever has been asked to host a local television program called "Gotta' Dance." When the DJ finds out that the attractive producer Avis Dropkin expects Fever to spin disco, Fever tries to bow out. Told in no uncertain terms that the TV station will take legal action against Fever if he refuses to honor his contract, The Doctor invents a new character, Rip Tide, a disco loving "TV guy" with the morals of a snake.
Trying to convince the rest of the crew that the Rip persona is just a scam, Johnny is soon taken over by the dominant Rip personality; he even begins going out at night dressed in the Ripper's outfits, making it with young girls.
When Herb and Andy try to get Johnny to do Rip on the air at WKRP, Fever falls off the deep end and begins to attack his second personality. As he struggles back and forth to regain his true identity, Fever decides to destroy Rip on the air. Asking for payola and coming onto young girls in the studio audience, Rip is fired from the show and Johnny regains his sanity.
Though a bit fantastic, everything in Fever's past seemed to point to the feasibility of an episode of this sort. Recall that Fever had gone through a number of on-air personas before arriving at Dr. Johnny Fever. He also had a struggle with auditory hallucinations in the episode "God talks to Johnny." Add this to his years of drug abuse and Fever makes a perfect target for a schizoid disorder. Hesseman played the role brilliantly and the scene in which he struggles for control is particularly powerful. Shot in one week, Hesseman admitted that he was quite worn out by the physical activity in the episode, which may have actually contributed to the realism he offered the role.
Special Guest Star
Avis Dropkin..................Mary Frann

"Venus and the Man"
a/k/a "Venus Teaches the Atom"
Written by Hugh Wilson
Directed by Rod Daniel

Cora Isley, the station cleaning woman, asks Venus to have a talk with her son Arnold, a young black tough who is involved in a street gang and is considering dropping out of high school. Though Venus is more than happy to talk with Arnold, he is taken aback when Cora describes the young man as "Big, Tricky, and Bad!"
When Arnold offers Venus a $100 bill to get a new jacket, the DJ begins to realize that he has his work cut out for him. How can he convince a young man who's making a good deal of money scamming on the streets to develop a belief in the joy of education? Realizing that Arnold is a betting man, Venus makes the boy an offer - If Venus can teach Arnold about the atom in three minutes, Arnold will return to school.
Utilizing perhaps one of the most effective forms of education, Venus describes the atom by likening it to a story of three street gangs. When Arnold realizes that he has learned something, he keeps his word and agrees to finish school. When Cora returns to thank Venus for all he has done, Venus admits that he can't say for sure whether Arnold will return to school after the end of the year. It is this touch of honesty, along with the ingenious teaching method, that makes this one of WKRP's finest episodes.
Additional cast
Arnold Isley..................Kenny Long
Cora Isley....................Veronica Redd

"Ask Jennifer"
Written by Joyce Armor & Judy Neer
Directed by Linda Day
Dean the Dream, an afternoon DJ at WKRP, is leaving for law school, and Herb comes up with a great idea that he hopes will win the 3 - 4 pm time slot - A "Dear Abby" type advise show. After 169 days, Herb comes up with the perfect host - Arlene Allen, author of the book "You Be You and I'll Be Me." However, when Arlene proves to be an unstable wreck, it's up to Jennifer to step in at the last minute and save the show - and she becomes an instant hit.

Filling in until Herb can find a replacement, Jennifer gives cute, off-the-cuff advice to the Cincinnati listeners. When her campy advice ends up causing one of her listeners to be beaten by her husband, however, Jennifer decides to call it quits and Fever takes over the show.
Additional Cast
Arlene Allen.................Eileen Barnett
Dr. Van Housen...............Mickey Cherney
Herb's Cousin................Wayne Morton
Dancer.......................Feather Austin

"I Am Woman"
Written by Lissa Levin"
Directed by Linda Day
Bad news strikes WKRP - the Flem building is going to be torn down to make way for a new modern office building and the current tenants have three months to leave. When Bailey realizes that the Flem building, built in 1931, is an historic landmark, she decides to lead the "Save the Flem" campaign. Carlson is enthusiastic about it until Momma says that she will allow Carlson to build his dream building to house the radio station. Carlson tries to get Bailey to stop her crusade, but she defies his orders and continues with the cause. Upset, Carlson is ready to fire Bailey, until here eloquent speech against glass and steel box architecture wins the Big Guy back over to her side.


"Secrets of Dayton heights"
Written by Jon Smet
Directed by Frank Bonner

Les has been denied clearance to attend a Presidential press conference in Washington, D.C. because the secret service views Nessman as a security risk. Trying to get to the bottom of this, Andy, Carlson and Les go visit the local branch of the Secret Service. It is there where Les discovers his communist affiliation - it seems that Les' real father, Harvey Moorhouse, a barber in Dayton, Ohio, was once accused of being a communist spy.
This is all a shock to Les, who thought that his real father was Lester Nessman Sr. What had actually happened was Les' real father left before Les was born. Mrs. Nessman quickly remarried, but she let Les believe that Lester Nessman Sr. was his real father.
Determined to see his father, Les goes to Moorehouse's barber shop in Dayton. Though it is rough going at first, Les begins to like the man. Though he never reveals that he is Mr. Moorehouses' son, it is clear that Les will continue to visit Mr. Moorehouse.
This episode was great in that it finally gave a reason for Les' hatred and paranoia of communism. We find that Mrs. Nessman had planted the seeds of the distrust when she told Les that all communists were "unreliable."
Additional Cast
Harvey Moorehouse............Bill McLean
Agent Berwick................Sam Anderson

"Out to Lunch"
Story by Ben Elisco
Written by Peter Torokvei
Directed by Dolores Ferraro

Things seem to be looking up for Herb. After floundering in the world of insignificant clients and accounts, Herb believes he has a real chance at landing an account from a major ad agency. He begins having long, multi-martini lunches with the agency big-wig and soon begins forgetting about the clients he already has.
As Herb's drinking begins getting the best of him, things begin to fall apart. He has given away a $10,000 Irish Sweepstakes ticket and can't even recall doing it. He loses the small client he had already landed. To add insult to injury, he finds out that the ad agency representative, a bigger drunk than Herb, was fired from the agency. Reviewing the problem with Carlson, Herb begins to realize that alcohol isn't the sales tool that he thinks it is, but a crutch upon which he is growing dependent. With Carlson's subtle help, Herb decides to walk away from the bottle before it becomes a problem.
Trivia: Gordon Jump's daughter has a bit role in this episode as the girl in the bar.
Additional Cast
Charlie Bathgate.............Craig T. Nelson
Ray Margison.................Michael Sherman
Girl in Bar..................Cindy Jump
Bartender....................Alan Toy

"A Simple Little Wedding"
Written by Blake Hunter
Directed by Nicholas Stamos
In honor of their silver wedding anniversary, Arthur and Carmen Carlson decide to repeat their wedding vows. This is particularly important to the Carlson's, who had eloped during their first wedding to escape the big event that Momma Carlson was planning.

Deciding to just have a simple little wedding, things get more and more complicated. Herb throws the Big Guy an embarrassing bachelor party, and Momma, who convinced Carmen to allow a small shower, begins pressing for a big church wedding. Upset by the course the second wedding has taken, Carmen and Arthur end up eloping for a second time.
Additional Cast
Momma Carlson.................Carol Bruce
Carmen Carlson................Allyn Ann McLerie
Hirsch........................Ian Wolfe

"Nothing to Fear But..."
Story by Tim Reid
Written by Dan Guntzelman
Directed by Asaad Kelada
When WKRP is broken into, the whole staff begins to get nervous. Giving into urban paranoia, Carlson decides to buy an expensive burglar alarm system. Herb, not a man to be caught uncovered, decides to buy a gun, which he keeps in his desk at the station.

Later that week, as the gang reluctantly goes off to Herb's unsuccessful client party on the first floor of the Flem building, Venus and Fever get suspicious when the alarm goes off at WKRP. With some trepidation, Venus agrees to get Herb's gun and together with Johnny, he searches the station. Feeling the have the burglar cornered in Carlson's office, the two find out it is only Andy, who has taken Stella, the hat check girl from the party, up to the station. It is a moment laden with tension as Venus holds the gun on a shaken and surprised Travis.
Additional cast
Stella........................Kelly Greer
Mailroom girl.................Linda Rand
Intellectual..................Robert O'Donnell

"Til Dept Do Us Part"
Written by Howard Hesseman and Steven Kampmann
Directed by Frank Bonner
Johnny gets some great news - his ex-wife Paula is getting remarried. Tired of living off the "residue" of two ex-wives, Fever is elated. That is, until he meets the womanizing slob that Paula has decided to marry. Stuck between the idea of one less alimony check and not speaking out against Paula's fiance Buddy Gravers, Fever, who still seems to love Paula, tells her how he feels about Buddy. Paula says that she is still going to get married, but she seems to appreciate Johnny's concern.

Hamilton Camp, who played Buddy, was not the first choice for the role. Hesseman, who wrote the episode, recalled the problems he had in casting the episode: "Hamilton Camp was a replacement on Tuesday morning. I had written the show for Ruth Silveira and my friend the late John Matuzak, from the Raiders, who had done a feature with another Committee friend of mine, who wrote and directed it - it was called Caveman with Ringo Starr. And he was looking to do a little TV, as well. So I wrote this thing - I co-wrote it with Steven Kampmann -- with John in mind. He came in on Monday and it was really disastrous, he - he just wasn't up to doing it. Sadly enough, I had to agree with everybody at the end of rehearsals on Monday that John wasn't really doing [a good job] - I had to agree that the best thing to do was cut and run, you know - cut him loose and bring in somebody else. And, I said, 'Hamilton,' and Hugh said, 'Exactly, that's what I was thinking.'"
Additional Cast
Paula.........................Ruth Silveira
Buddy Gravers.................Hamilton Camp
Armenian Woman................Naomi Serotoff

"Clean Up Radio Everywhere"
Written by Max Tash & Hugh Wilson
Directed by Linda Day

When a fundamentalist Christian group known as "Clean Up Radio Broadcasting -- CURB" tries to edit WKRP's playlist, Carlson has to decide what is more important - religion or the first amendment? After Johnny Fever proves that Dr. Bob Halyers, the Jerry Fallwell-like character who runs CURB, wants to censor ideas as well as obscene lyrics, Carlson agrees to risk an economic boycott and fight CURB.
This episode became an important turning point to the development of the rest of the series. Indeed, when Halyer's got advertisers to boycott WKRP, the commercial free station began picking up great ratings. Later fourth season episodes expanded on this new found success, and the station was soon graced with a new lobby and, ultimately, more prestige.
Additional Cast
Dr. Bob Halyers...............Richard Paul
Harvey Green..................Ralph Manza