Armagideon Time

This is syndicated Clash

November 26th, 2012

The original broadcast run of WKRP in Cincinatti stretched from September 1978 to September 1982. This was a fairly significant period in pop music history and one marked by a host of overlapping trends and developments that were not only reflected in the sitcom’s licensed music choices, dermatologist but also in the realm of set dressing.

For example, find here’s a screencap from “Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide: Part 1, for sale ” which aired in February 1981:

What’s that hanging on the wall behind the good Doctor’s head? Why, it’s a framed cover of the April 17, 1980 issue of Rolling Stone

…featuring a full one half of the Only Band That Mattered!

Despite never having their music used in the show nor directly referenced in dialogue, The Clash still maintained a prominent visual presence in the third and fourth seasons of WKRP, thanks to the ever-changing roster of posters which bedecked the station’s broadcast booth.

Here’s one for Black Market Clash from “Ask Jennifer” (February 14, 1981)…

…and a March 28, 1981 plug for Sandinista

…that probably could have stood being trimmed down to a third of its size.

There was also this nifty punkadelic triptych…

…which migrated around the confines of the set during the first half of WKRP‘s fourth (and final) season.

Besides being nifty indicators of the general hipness of the show’s production crew, these fleeting snippets of history also serve as reminders that there was a brief window when The Clash seemed poised for bigger and better things as the standardbearers for the UK punk/wave/protest “rawk” scene in America.

(That role would later devolve upon The Police, and more’s the pity.)

Recommended listening: Dear at any price.

And while I’m posting WKRP screenshots, check out this strong contender in the “bands least likely to get referenced in a 1981 American network TV sitcom” sweeps…

More recommended listening: Tune in, turn on, skank out.

6 Responses to “This is syndicated Clash”

  1. Matt M.

    True fact: I still have a BLACK DEATH t-shirt, as worn by Dr. Fever in that first pic. Never realized the connection.

  2. EAG46

    I love this show. The Turkeys Away episode (“as God is my witness I thought turkeys could fly”) should be mandatory viewing on Thanksgiving.

  3. Sallyp

    One of the best comedys ever. And yes, the Thanksgiving episode was and is…a classic.

  4. Snark Shark

    ” “bands least likely to get referenced in a 1981 American network TV sitcom””

    SUZI QUATRO!!! 😀

  5. Jim Kosmicki

    i can remember reading an article once where the set dresser commented on the guilty pleasure that they had in putting up promotional material for bands that were very much NOT going to be played on commercial radio at the time. They said something to the effect of it reinforcing how low on the totem pole WKRP was – nobody was listening, so nobody paid attention to what they were playing…

    of course by the time you get to the fourth season, they were starting to have some success and there was talk of rising ratings for the station. It would be interesting to compare the set dressing for all four seasons and see if they materials get less “obscure” and more commercial as the seasons wear on.

  6. Jim Kosmicki

    hey Snark Shark- Suzi at least had the one hit sung with the singer from Smokie and was on Happy Days a couple of times – it’s not like she was selling a lot or a household name, but she had some (very) minor name recognition in the US

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