WKRP in Cincinnati‘s defining qualities were a cast of wacky characters, an atmosphere of free-floating late-’70s psychic malaise (that on its better episodes the show sharpened to a cutting point), and, more than anything else, by its music. Fittingly for a show about a radio station of the time, the soundtrack included everything from the Grateful Dead to the Cars, often highlighting the culture clash between hippie-era dinosaurs and the leaner New Wave acts that were springing up in response to those dinosaurs’ refusal to exit the pop zeitgeist.
Thanks to the way music licensing contracts were written at the time, the show lost its rights to use the original versions of the songs it had so deeply woven into its fabric, and was forced to replace them with generic knockoffs while it was still in broadcast syndication. Later, when it moved to cable and home video it did so with the same soundalikes.
On Oct. 28, Shout! Factory will release the first complete series-spanning WKRP DVD set, with its original soundtrack gloriously restored.