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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.
  • 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.
  • The Danza
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Fiery Redhead
  • Moe: She gets upset when Lisa is voted "cutest reporter" in a magazine, because "once they start calling pretty people cute, it devalues the whole word. What's going to happen next? Cute exotic people, cute sexy people? It is very important that the word "cute" remain precise terminology to the people who truly have cuteness, like me!"
  • Motor Mouth
  • Ms. Fanservice: Particularly of the Bare Your Midriff variety.
  • No Name Given: We never got a last name for her. In "Freaky Friday," she says she doesn't have one.
  • Oral Fixation: Beth's perpetual gum-chewing was a Running Gag.
    Dave: Guess how many pieces of gum Beth chewed last year.
    Lisa: Seven hundred and fifty.
    Dave: One.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Unlike with Matthew, it remains clear what Beth's job was, but she can be spectacularly lazy about it. In the episode where Dave has everyone define their job, all she comes up with is that she makes coffee in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon. When he tells her to call a staff meeting in five minutes, she tells him to add "call a staff meeting in five minutes" to the list, then flounces out yelling, "Staff meeting in twenty minutes!"
  • Plucky Office Girl: In one DVD Commentary, the writers say they had to stop putting in references to how little money Beth made because instead of laughing, the studio audience would feel sorry for her.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: "Dresses like a barmaid from Blade Runner," as Dave puts it.
  • Sassy Secretary

Matthew Brock (Andy Dick)

A reporter.

Joe Garelli (Joe Rogan)

The station's electrician.

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.

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