×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Gerald Blum, Inspiration for ‘Big Guy’ Carlson on ‘WKRP in Cincinnati,’ Dies at 86

Gerald “Jerry” Blum, the inspiration for the character of radio station general manager Art “Big Guy” Carlson on the long-running TV sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” died Saturday at 86.

The Atlanta radio veteran was affectionately transformed into the fictional Carlson by veteran comic actor Gordon Jump on “WKRP,” which ran for four seasons on CBS from 1978 to 1982.

Blum passed away of congestive heart failure, according to his son, Gary.

Blum was the former president/GM of Atlanta Top 40 mainstay WQXI, heading that station from 1960 to 1989 and what is currently WSTR (Star 94.1) from ’67 to ’89, running legendary promotions like the “Ramblin’ Raft Race” in the ‘70s and “Light Up Atlanta Festival” in the early ‘80s.

CREDIT: Courtesy Legacy

WKRP in Cincinnati” creator Hugh Wilson knew Blum from his own years in Atlanta working in ad sales at WQXI, and recreated some of Blum’s wackier promos for the show, especially “Turkeys Away,” which focused on “Big Guy” Carlson’s idea to drop turkeys from a helicopter. The turkeys came crashing down to earth, as Richard Sanders’ newsman Les Nessman gave an increasingly panicked play-by-play, noting the birds “were hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement,” adding the infamous line about the Hindenburg disaster, “Oh, the humanity!” The turkey drop emulated Blum’s promotion in the late ‘50s at KBOX in Dallas, where he shoved them off a flatbed pick-up truck in a shopping center, with “the public going nuts fighting over them.”

Besides Jump’s take on Blum/Carlson, “WKRP” also featured Howard Hesseman as veteran DJ Johnny Fever, Lori Anderson as the station’s deceptively smart blonde receptionist and Tim Reid as funky late-night jock Venus Flytrap. The show became an unexpected hit after going into syndication.

More TV

  • GLAAD Slams Alabama Public TV for

    GLAAD Slams Alabama Public TV for Nixing 'Arthur' Same-Sex Marriage Episode

    GLAAD has criticized Alabama Public Television’s decision to not air a recent episode of children’s animated program “Arthur” that features same-sex marriage, calling the move “mean-spirited.” In the Season 22 premiere, which aired May 13, Arthur’s third-grade teacher Mr. Ratburn gets married to chocolate-store owner (and aardvark) Patrick. Alabama Public Television Director of Programming & [...]

  • Sara Gilbert and Tom Werner

    Sara Gilbert, Tom Werner Launch Production Company Sara + Tom

    Sara Gilbert and veteran producer Tom Werner have teamed up to create production company Sara + Tom, tapping into their working relationship that spans two-and-a-half decades. The two have been colleagues since the early days of “Roseanne,” which starred Gilbert on screen and featured Werner behind the scenes. Werner has executive produced 230 episodes of [...]

  • Holly Hunter Strange Weather

    'Succession' Season 2 Adds Holly Hunter in Recurring Role

    Holly Hunter is joining HBO’s “Succession.” Hunter will recur in the second season of the drama series in the role of Rhea Jarrell, the politically savvy CEO of a rival media conglomerate. She joins a returning cast that includes Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin, Hiam Abbass, Alan Ruck, Sarah Snook, and Natalie Gold. Hunter [...]

  • The Americans 30 Rock Breaking Bad

    The Best Series Finales in TV History

    As high-profile series “The Big Bang Theory,” “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” come to an end with finale episodes that received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, it becomes that much more apparent that the more invested someone is with a piece of programming, the more personally they will take the goodbye — for [...]

  • MTV The Challenge

    How 'The Challenge' Relied on Global Crew to Pull Off Plane Game

    Thirty-three seasons into MTV’s “The Challenge,” the reality competition series has spawned a band of traveling producers and engineers who fly around the world to create one-of-a-kind games. This includes placing cameras, smoke elements and a puzzle inside a plane that was suspended more than 30 feet above water. Executive producer Justin Booth joined “The [...]

  • Sky Draws Massive 3.8 Million U.K.

    Sky Draws Massive 3.8 Million U.K. Viewers to 'Game of Thrones' Finale

    British “Game of Thrones” fans flocked to Sky on Monday to deliver the pay-TV service overnight viewing figures for the series finale that surpassed the record numbers set by the season opener last month. “The Iron Throne,” which aired on Sky Atlantic, scored the biggest overnight audience ever for a “Game of Thrones” finale in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content