Credit: Everett Collection

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. (Orders through the Shout! Factory site get early delivery on Sept. 23.) The 13-disc set will include not only new bonus features (including a 2014 panel discussion with members of the cast and crew), but actual songs by a staggeringly broad range of artists including Captain Beefheart, Elvis Costello, the Rolling Stones, Luther Vandross, Ray Charles, the Sir Douglas Quintet, and Huey Lewis & the News. Somewhere in sitcom heaven Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap are exchanging cool ’70s-hipster handshakes.

Here’s a more or less complete list of acts from the soundtrack:


Herb Alpert

Ashford & Simpson

Joan Baez

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

Pat Benatar

George Benson


Booker T And The MG’s


Alicia Bridges

Jackson Browne

Donald Byrd

Carl Carlton

The Cars

Gene Chandler

Ray Charles



Eric Clapton

The Coasters

Joe Cocker

Elvis Costello

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Crosby, Stills Nash & Young

Christopher Cross

Derek And The Dominos


Bo Diddley

The Doors

Dr. John

Gene Dunlap

The Durocs

Bob Dylan

Earth, Wind & Fire



Marvin Gaye

The Go-Gos

Grateful Dead

Bill Haley And His Comets

Buddy Holly

Bob James

Jefferson Starship

Waylon Jennings

Elton John

Janis Joplin

Greg Kihn Band

Albert King

B.B. King

Evelyn “Champagne” King

Freddie King

The Knack

Kool And the Gang

Jerry Lee Lewis

Huey Lewis & The News

Little River Band

Living Voices

Kenny Loggins

Nick Lowe

Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers

Chuck Mangione

Bob Marley

Paul McCartney and Wings

Delbert McClinton

Eddie Money

The Monotones

Van Morrison

Gary Myrick And the Figures

Ron Nagle

Randy Newman

Olivia Newton-John

Ted Nugent

The O’Jays

Carl Perkins

Tom Petty

Wilson Pickett

The Police

Jean-Luc Ponty

Elvis Presley

The Pretenders



Otis Redding

Little Richard

Lionel Richie

Kenny Rogers

The Rolling Stones

Linda Ronstadt

Sam & Dave

Bob Seger

The Sherbs

The Sir Douglas Quintet

Bruce Springsteen

Edwin Starr

Steely Steely Dan

The Stone City Band



James Taylor

Carla Thomas


Pete Townshend


Luther Vandross

Junior Walker

Grover Washington, Jr.

The Who

Stevie Wonder

Lauren Wood

Neil Young