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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bill Dial


I recently learned that Bill Dial died June 2. You probably don't know the name, but you do know what he did.


Dial wrote the "Turkeys Away" episode of "WKRP in Cincinnati." That's the one where Herb Tarlek and Mr. Carlson drop live turkeys out of a helicopter as part of a Thanksgiving promotion. Carlson utters the immortal line, "As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." The other line that sticks out in my mind is Les Nessman relating how the turkeys were hitting the ground like "sacks of wet cement."


Bill Dial also appeared, on camera, in two episodes as "Bucky the Engineer."


Some obituaries have him lasted as 64 years old, but most list him as 66.


Dial has a long list of writing credits, but he will always be known for his WKRP turkeys.


I loved "WKRP in Cincinnati" because I knew all the characters. I've worked for spineless general managers. I spent time at a radio station where one of the DJ's changed jobs and identities so often, he had to write his name and the station call letters on a huge piece of paper in front on him when he was on the air. It was like Johnny Fever listing all his names on his coffee mug. I've worked with hot receptionists and even hotter production assistants. By the way, I always thought Bailey/Jan Smithers was much, much prettier than Jennifer/Loni Anderson. Every broadcast salesman I've ever met is a Herb Tarlek clone. There was a guy at one of my old radio stations who could have been Herb's twin brother. I was once under a program director who was too cool for the room, but I still liked him. Les Nessman? That's me. I've been "up and down the dial" a little bit. Full time, part time, and freelance locations have included 91.5, 590, 92.9, 94.3, 16, 22, 28, 43 and 48.


"WKRP in Cincinnati" was a funny, funny series, and thank you, Bill Dial.