I used to watch WKRP in Cincinnati daily when it ran in syndication in the mid-80s. I loved that show. It just made radio look like blast. Dr. Johnny Fever, Venus Flytrap, Les Nessman, Herb Tarlek…. they weren’t just colleagues, they weren’t just friends with a refer-a-friend code, but they were family.
Several episodes bounce around my cranium on the reg, but there’s one episode that has always stuck with me. Les Nessman is playing for WKRP in a softball game. The scraping sounds of violin lessons and the bullying voice of his mother gives us a glimpse into Les's life. It’s pretty intense as the fly ball lands in Les’s glove, despite the fact he refuses to look.
As a kid, I loved baseball, and I totally felt for Les when we flashed back to his upbringing. He didn’t get to play because he was forced to focus on the violin. But then, in that one moment, redemption! He caught the ball!
That moment really affected me and influenced the way I parent. When I became a father almost 18 years ago, I pledged to respect my child’s wants and desired, so long as it was within reason. When my oldest daughter said she wanted to dance, I wasn’t a big fan of it, but I was a big fan of hers, and I remembered that episode of WKRP. I put my daughter in dance and she remains a competitive dance to this very day.
Conversely, I was heartbroken when my oldest son told me he was done with baseball. I had him playing baseball at High Park and he had a great arm. But he wasn’t having fun, and that’s key. I let him quit and he played hockey and basketball instead. He was happy.
My daughter recently delivered similar news when she told me she was done with soccer. I loved watching her play soccer each week, it was a true highlight, but she’s going to spend her precious summer doing other activities. I chose not to impose my will on her but to let me make that reasonable decision. Thanks, Les!
With my younger two kids, I’ll continue to give them input into their lives. Within reason, of course, and that’s key. At five you have less say in what extracurricular activities you participate in than you do at 13. Swimming lessons are mandatory!
This episode, titled “Baseball”, has some fun facts associated with it. Because the station only had eight regulars and a ninth was needed to field a baseball team, they added station engineer Bucky Dornster to the roster. It was his second appearance.