Sitcom set in a New York based all-news radio station.
97 episodes of 25 minute duration. NBC 1995-99.
This workplace comedy centred on a group of reporters and announcers at a fictional all-news radio station in New York City, and had a devoted fan base.
Dave Foley played Dave Nelson, the new news director of WNYX who was hired to reign in the eccentric staff. Dave proved to be a sharp boss, but he was never able to get the staff under control. No surprise, because the off-centre group was led by the station’s billionaire owner Jimmy James (Stephen Root). Maura Tierney played Lisa Miller, a sharp reporter who eventually has a romantic relationship with Dave. The late Phil Hartman (who gained fame on 'Saturday Night Live') was arrogant Bill O’Neal, who anchored the news with his level-headed co-host, Catherine Duke (Khandi Alexander). Also on the staff were Beth (Vicki Lewis), Dave’s quirky secretary; off-centre reporter Matthew Brock (Andy Dick); and station technician Joe Garrelli (Joe Rogan).
'Newsradio' had its fun moments, with sharp writing and plenty of physical humour that set it apart from other workplace sitcoms of the era. Despite critical acclaim, NBC kept moving the show to different timeslots (11 in all), making it hard for fans to find it. The network also made “suggestions” to improve the ratings, such as having Dave and Lisa have an ongoing relationship with sparks, much as the Sam-Diane affair that sparked 'Cheers.' (Dave and Lisa actually slept together in the second episode, resulting in tension between the pair; the two had an off-and-on again relationship for the series run.)
In 1998, NBC renewed 'Newsradio' for a fifth season, but just days later, the 49-year-old Hartman died after being shot by his wife Brynn in the couple’s Encino, California home. (Brynn Hartman soon after committed suicide.) When the new season of 'Newsradio' began, the producers brought in new regular Max Lewis (played by Hartman’s SNL colleague John Lovitz), an insecure announcer who held no less than 37 jobs over a 20 year period. But the show never really recovered from Hartman’s death, and 'Newsradio' aired its final episode on May 4th, 1999.
TRIVIA: Before he became a regular on 'Newsradio,' John Lovitz appeared on a 1997 episode as an announcer who threatened to jump from the ledge outside Dave Nelson’s office unless he was hired by the station....To explain the death of Phil Hartman’s character, a memorial episode explained Bill O’Neal died of a heart attack while watching television, but the clueless Matthew thought Bill had gone to Afghanistan....'Newsradio'episodes sometimes became surreal; one episode was set as a radio station in space; another was essentially a parody of the then-hit film 'Titanic....Vicki Lewis’ character name of Beth was inspired by the KISS song of the same name; her last name was never revealed....After 'Newsradio,' Dave Foley became a popular guest star on a number of sitcoms; Maura Tierney went on to play Doctor Abby Lockhart on 'ER': and Joe Rogan earned his stripes in the world of reality television as the host of NBC’s gross-out competition show 'Fear Factor.'
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