Monday, March 13, 2006
WHKK the Series Part 1 fiction
Starring Chuck Baker a DJ/Sales Mgr, Rick Phillips who played a DJ/news reporter, Marlin Tester as GM/Program Director, Jeff Eldred as News Director, Colson Leach as a DJ named Spinner, Steve Perkins as an intern, Nancy Turner as a DJ and Elizabeth Tucker as the receptionist.
In 1981 the producers of WKRP wanted to do a spin off. I was supposed to do a few episodes of WKRP. Then I would be spun off onto the new show. The show was a hit and ran for about 4 years. Here is a recent Interview that I did with a magazine called TV Now.
TV NOW: What was the idea to start the show?
Rick Phillips: Well I wasn’t there in the idea phase so I don’t know. I was working in radio at the time and heard they were doing a casting call for a new show so I showed up.
TVN: The show was to be a spin off but you never were on WKRP. What happened?
RP: Well when the network executives saw that the show was going to be about a Christian radio station they backed away from the show.
TVN: Why didn’t they just ask the producers make a change in format?
RP: They did ask them but the producers for some reason were fixed on it being a Christian radio station. Now as a Christian myself I liked the idea but I would have still done the show no matter what format they wanted as long as it didn’t go against my Christian principals.
TVN: I heard they had problems deciding on what to call the show.
RP: Yeah they did. They wanted to call it WGOD to begin with but they thought it might get confusing with 2 shows going by station call letters. Also, they didn’t want to offend any religions.
TVN: What other names did they want to call it?
RP: I remember hearing them mention calling it God On The Air. Someone said that sounded more offensive then WGOD. Finally I told them that there use to be a station in my hometown that was called WHKK. They had to call the station something so they checked it out. Since the station was no longer in business there was nothing wrong with calling our fictional station WHKK.
TVN: Getting back to my original question. What happened with the show when the networks decided they didn’t want to do the spin off?
RP: Well they went into first run syndication. We had just barely enough markets signed up to air the first season of 13 episodes.
TVN: Did they ever address that the show was a spin off?
RP: Yes! One episode Gordon Jump who played Mr. Carlson and Richard Saunders who played Les Nesman came on the show. However, there was some legal problem with the networks since we were not one of their shows. We couldn’t call them Mr. Carlson or Les or Big Guy as that was the property of the network. So we just called them representatives of the station owner. The show did end with a joke about WKRP. Mr. Carlson was there to give some money to Marlin the GM. Marlin said maybe he could now buy that new soundboard for the DJ booth. Mr. Carlson looked at him and said he didn’t think Mama would like that.
TVN: Why did they have you all use your real names?
RP: I don’t know. I know with the Monkees the producers hoped to make them a real recording group. Did they hope we would become a real station?
TVN: Didn’t some of them go by their nicknames too?
RP: Yes we even worked in some of them. Marlin was the oldest of our group and he had a loving caring way with people so we called him Pa. It was explained in the series that even though he was only a few years older then us he took us all under his wing and thought of all of us as his kids. That is why he was called Pa on the show. Colson, like a lot of us, had a background in radio before the series began. At the radio station he was called Spinner. Sometimes to tease him we would call him Spitter. He would get alittle upset and say “It’s Spinner! Not Spitter!” The writers saw this and to his dismay worked it as a running gag into the show. One day we kept calling him Spitter all day long. He didn’t say anything about it but his anger must have been building. When it came time to tape that day we came to a scene where I said “Hey Spitter!” He turned around and was suppose to say his typical response. However, it came out as “It’s Spitter! Not Spinner!” I was stunned. The live audience gave us one of the shows biggest laughs. Colson was so flustered he didn’t know what to say. Finally he said “You know what I mean.” The scene went on and the director kept it in the show.
TVN: Where there any blooper reels of things that were cut out of the show?
RP: As long as we stayed in character everything was kept in the show. If you watch the show you are watching our blooper reel.
Continued in part 2 tomorrow.