The episode, "Turkeys Away", aired in 1978. The premise of the story centered around Arthur Carlson's desire to become more involved in the marketing of radio station WKRP, which is owned by his family. Carlson thought the Thanksgiving break would be a perfect occasion to engage in a holiday promotion. Like giving away trees at Christmas, the perfect gimmick for Thanksgiving would be the free distribution of turkeys. He was convinced this act of charity would pay dividends in future ratings.
Setting the promotion into motion, Carlson sent News Director, Les Nessman, to a grocery store. His instructions were to report back to disk jockey Johnny Fever live-on-air via a remote broadcast.
The following excerpt from the script tells what happened when Nessman filed his report...
It's a helicopter, and it's coming this way. It's flying something behind it. I can't quite make it out, it's a large banner and it says, uh, Happy..Thaaaankss...giving...from W...K...R...P! What a sight ladies and gentlemen, what a sight. The 'copter seems to be circling the parking area now, I guess it's looking for a place to land. No! Something just came out of the back of the helicopter! It's, uh, a dark object. Perhaps a skydiver. Plummeting to the earth from only two thousand feet in the air. A second, a third! No parachutes yet. Can't be skydivers. I can't tell just yet what they are, but - Oh my God, they're turkeys!!! Johnny can you get this? Oh, they're plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! Oh, this is just terrible! The crowd is running around pushing each other! Oh, my goodness! Oh, the humanity! People are running about! The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Honestly, folks I don't know how much longer...the crowd is running for their lives.
So, you think this could only happen in the world of fiction on a television sitcom? Wrong!
A different take on this scenario occurred in - of all places - an NHL arena.
On Thanksgiving day, November 22, 1962, the Toronto Maple Leafs were visiting the Stadium in Chicago to play the Blackhawks.
I wonder if the instigator of this mischievous act had achieved his desired results. Or, was he left with a deflated feeling, much like Carlson after failing to have his plan executed as originally drafted?
The final word goes to Arthur Carlson...
"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly".