WKRP’s ‘Turkeys Away’ becomes Thanksgiving tradition (No, turkeys can’t fly)

WKRP's Les Nessman, winner of the Buckeye Newshawk Award, reports live from the Pinedale Shopping Mall. (Source: YouTube)

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” That quote comes from one of the most hilarious Thanksgiving-themed television sitcom episodes ever.

The infamous “Turkeys Away” episode of WKRP in Cincinnati aired Oct. 30, 1978 in the first season of the TV show about a radio station and its staff of misfits.

This episode has become a cult classic during the holidays and now with social media and YouTube, we can relive it every year.

Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson (Gordon Jump) has a big idea for an unforgettable Thanksgiving promo for the struggling station he manages — drop live turkeys from a helicopter into a crowd waiting below.

Newsman Les Nessman (Richard Sanders) reports live on the air. He describes the scene echoing the famous 1937 report of the Hindenberg disaster.

“Oh! They’re plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! The turkeys are hitting the ground like bags of wet cement!”

Oh, and more quotable phrases continue:

“The Pinedale shopping mall has just been bombed with live turkeys…film at 11,” DJ Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hessman) says, cutting away from Les.

According to the blog Classic TV History, the WKRP turkey drop was based on an actual promotion for an Atlanta station. The difference is only that the live turkeys were tossed from the back of a truck and not from a helicopter.

You’ll have to watch the complete episode to fully appreciate the payoff, including one of the most often-quoted closing lines in sitcoms.

So before you eat, take a trip back to the 1970s with us and spend time laughing for Thanksgiving.

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