Radio personality Bobby Harper, whose on-air antics were the inspiration for the character Johnny Fever on TV show “WKRP in Cincinnati,” died July 22 in Atlanta of lung cancer. He was 64.
Howard Hesseman played the scruffy, spacey Johnny Fever deejay character, which was based on Harper, according to Hugh Wilson, who created and produced the sitcom that ran on CBS from 1978 to 1982.
Harper, nicknamed “Skinny,” ran radio shows at 15 radio stations over a nomadic 31 years, moving from Peoria, Ill., to Detroit to Atlanta. He was fired several times, sometimes for unseemly comments on the air.
He got drunk on the air with 80-proof vodka to prove that drinking and driving is bad. In other stunts, he rode a wild bull, ran in an ostrich race and bellyflopped into an ice creme sundae.
Harper most recently lived in Smyrna, Ga.