Characters: NewsRadio

Dave Nelson (Dave Foley)

The news director at WNYX. A Naïve Newcomer in the pilot episode, he quickly realizes the kind of place he's dealing with.

  • Benevolent Boss: Most of the time. He's somewhat embittered by the end of his tenure.
  • Book Dumb: He's intelligent and has a good vocabulary - enough for his "big words" to sometimes annoy the other characters - but almost all of his cultural references come from movies and TV. In conversation with Lisa he reveals that the last book he read was Goober in a Nutshell, the autobiography of The Andy Griffith Shows George Lindsey.
  • Canada, Eh?: In "The Trainer," the other characters find out he was born in Canada and react accordingly. This is an Actor Allusion. (In one outtake, Dave Foley really does tack an accidental "eh" onto the end of a line.)
  • The Cassandra: Dave is a terrific news director. He's tough, has foresight, good instincts and a lot of common sense, and is a BS detector. Despite this, nobody at the office ever believes his warnings and his authority is roundly dismissed, as much of the staff see him as just a killjoy.
  • Character Development: While the other characters were pretty much Flanderized in typical sitcom style, Dave had more of an arc: first he was alarmed by the craziness of his coworkers, then he got used to them and learned to manage them, and in the final season he simply got sick of it all until he didn't want to make the move to New Hampshire in the series finale.
  • Closet Geek: Stargate Defender. Also, when Matthew buys him a sword, he waits until he's alone in the office and then pretends to be Obi-Wan Kenobi.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Hidden Depths/New Powers as the Plot Demands: His continually growing list of secret talents was a mild Running Gag (though mostly contained in the episode "Stupid Holiday Charity Talent Show"). He speaks Spanish, can tapdance, was involved in 4H, starred in Grease in high school, sang in an a cappella group in college, and can throw knives and his voice.
  • Kawaisa: Dave is an in-universe example of cuteness, much to his frustration and chagrin. He's rarely taken seriously as an authority figure because of his inexperience, idealism and boyishness — the others largely agree that he looks like a fourteen-year-old in a business suit. A child visiting the station once calls him "the little boy in the blue suit".
    • In episode 57, Dave tries to fool Andrea's polygraph test to make her think he's got a criminal record, but the test reveals he's never even thought about shoplifting, and Andrea calls him the cutest thing. He snaps back, "I am not the cutest thing!" and the polygraph goes off. Jimmy enters as Dave storms out, then Jimmy says to Andrea, "Ain't he the cutest thing?"
  • Minnesota Nice: Wisconsin. Despite the revelation of his technical Canadianness, there were many more Wisconsin jokes from the other characters over the course of the show.
  • Must Have Caffeine: When trying to get Bill to quit smoking, Dave gives up coffee at the same time to prove the point. They both fail.
    • Also an Actor Allusion; Dave Nelson's massive quantities of coffee consumption are based on Dave Foley's own.
  • Nice Guy
  • Not So Above It All: He does become unhinged occasionally, notably in "Security Door."
  • Only Sane Employee
  • Straight Man
  • Team Mom
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Bill, according to the letter in "Bill Moves On"
  • Workaholic

Bill McNeal (Phil Hartman)

The star anchor and a constant thorn in Dave's side.

Lisa Miller (Maura Tierney)

A reporter who believed she was headed for Dave's job until he came along. Also his on-again-off-again love interest.

  • The B Grade: She has this attitude toward actual grades and toward life in general.
  • Brainy Brunette
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Played for Laughs; she has an extensive criminal record, but it's all connected to her overachieving. She had to steal that car to get to the SATs on time.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Go-Getter Girl
  • Good with Numbers: A trait that gets brought up repeatedly. When the characters need to win Bill back because Jimmy Lost Him in a Card Game, they choose to teach Lisa the rules of poker rather than send someone who already knows how it works.
  • Hot Scoop
  • The Lancer: To Dave.
  • Only Sane Employee: She belongs to the cast of wacky characters Dave has to manage, but only through being a neurotic perfectionist and hardworking to a fault, which makes her about a mile saner than the next sanest employee.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: Has an on-going relationship with Dave.
  • Workaholic
    Lisa: There's more to life than work!
    Dave: No there isn't, and I wish you'd stop pretending you're any different about that than me!

Jimmy James (Stephen Root)

The Eccentric Millionaire who owns WNYX and sure seems to devote a lot of his time to it. He enjoys playing God with the station and is often responsible for whatever Zany Scheme or Secret Test drives the episode, but also clearly cares for the people who work there.

Beth (Vicki Lewis)

Dave's assistant.

Matthew Brock (Andy Dick)

A reporter.

Joe Garelli (Joe Rogan)

The station's electrician.

  • Almighty Janitor: Joe is a world-class engineer, which is played entirely for laughs. He makes all of his own equipment (even duct tape) and can read binary code.
    Catherine: Where did you find a camera small enough to fit in an action figure?
    Joe: I made it.
    Catherine: I mean, where'd you get the parts?
    Joe: I made 'em!
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's a brilliant Mr. Fixit, otherwise a bit of a meathead.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Not unlike Joe Rogan.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Like an older brother, he both bullies Matthew and protects him.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Your last name is Garelli?"

Catherine Duke (Khandi Alexander)

Co-anchor with Bill until she leaves for a London radio station in season four.

Max Louis (Jon Lovitz)

The new anchor who replaces Bill in season five.

Johnny Johnson (Patrick Warburton)

A business rival of Jimmy's who takes over the station while Jimmy is briefly in jail in season five.