The New WKRP in Cincinnati is the sequel series to the classic '80s CBS Work Com WKRP in Cincinnati. Following a new group of co-workers in the radio station's office (along with some returning castmembers), The New WKRP picked up the plot threads left over from the original series and continued them in a new decade, as well as introducing new conflicts and situations to keep the station staff on their toes.
Arthur Carlson (Gordon Jump) is still the station manager of WKRP Cincinnati, and is still making the channel an unprofitable venture due to his indecisive, bumbling demeanor. After firing a program director for violating FCC regulations, he hires Donovan Aderhold (Mykelti Williamson), who works to make the content fresh and exciting again. To that end, he brings in several new employees, including new nighttime DJ Mona (Tawny Kitaen), in addition to maintaining current employees Herb Tarlek (Frank Bonner) and Les Nessman (Richard Sanders). Meanwhile, Carlson's son, Arthur Jr., is poised to take over the management of the station of when his father retires, and maintains an arrogant attitude towards the employees. From time to time, past employees from the series also return to lend a hand, including former WKRP receptionist Jennifer Marlowe and DJ Venus.
The second season retooled the plot, and jettisoned Arthur Jr. in favor of several new cast members, including DJ Razor (French Stewart) and returning character Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman), who rejoined the station. The series ended with a cliffhanger where Donovan (returning from another city) was onboard a plane that crashed, with his fate left up in the air.
The series was notable for following up on details left unresolved from the previous series, and picking up with former main characters who had previously left the station. The series was cancelled at the end of its second season, not due to low ratings (as it did well in syndication) but to a lack of investors that were funding the show.
- The Cameo: Loni Anderson (Jennifer), Tim Reid (DJ Venus) and Howard Hesseman (Dr. Johnny) all appeared in guest spots for several episodes. Oddly, the two original actors who never cameoed were the two whose TV careers had dried up—Gary Sandy (Andy; he basically left Hollywood to focus on stage acting) and Jan Smithers (Bailey; she turned into a Reclusive Artist during her pre-Streisand marriage to James Brolin).
- Clip Show: Both the original premiere, "How Did We Get Here?" and the second-season premiere, "Donovan, Don't Leave Us" were mostly comprised of clips from previous episodes.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mama Carlson, who tries to sell the station to a prospective buyer in the premiere, and generally makes the station staff's lives a living hell throughout the series.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Much like the original, the station is continually hampered by a combination of bumbling management and continuous layoffs. Any attempts to save the station end with, at best, a temporary solution, and the station is little better off at the end of the series than where it was at the beginning. The fact that the AM band was largely relegated to news in the 90's, with all of the Top 40 stations jumping ship over to FM, likely played a part as well.
- Hypno Fool: Arthur is hypnotized with a post-hypnotic suggestion that he's a chicken, cued by the word "Colonel", and is snapped out when he hears "Sanders." Then he has a meeting with a Russian interested in the US radio market, who is a Colonel in the Russian army. His translator is named Buck Sanders. Hilarity Ensues.
- Left Hanging: The second-season finale ended with Donovan (who previously left WKRP to take another job in another city, but reconsidered and was on his way back) being onboard a plane that had just crashed. This was intended to be resolved in the next season, but the series was cancelled, leaving his fate up in the air. Syndicated repeats typically omit the final episode, leaving it so that Donovan makes the decision to leave at the end of the show.
- Logo Joke: The MTM logo, instead of being accompanying by the standard "meow" sound, has Les saying "Ooooh!"
- Never Win the Lottery: Les reports on a lottery where several people won a large pot, and bought many extravagant items before they got the cash — only to learn later that there were so many winners that the resulting payout wasn't enough to cover the items they bough.
- Put on a Bus: Almost the whole new initial cast. Dana and Ronnie left partway through the first season. Jack, Clare, and Art Jr., were written off the show at the end of the first season, and never appeared again. Mona simply disappears from the show with five episodes to go. Of the new characters, only Donovan stays with the show throughout — although he leaves near the end and the "will Donovan come back" cliffhanger is never resolved. (Buddy is also seen on occasional basis throughout the series.)
- Sassy Secretary: Ronnie Lee, who took over Jennifer's position as receptionist.
- Stock Subtitle: "The New"
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
- Buddy Dornster is the station's laconic, disinterested engineer. During the classic series, that role was filled by Bucky Dornster, who was played by series writer Bill Dial. The two of them were apparently brothers, and so alike that they were almost interchangeable.
- Donovan plays pretty much the same Only Sane Man role as Andy from the original series.
- Treasure Map: One episode has the staff go on a treasure hunt inside the station building. Subverted, in tha the treasure exists, but they caused so much damage to the building in the process of finding it that they have to sell it to break even.
- Who Would Want to Watch Us?: In one episode, Johnny Fever had sold a pilot based on his time working at the station, but Executive Meddling made him pull out of the project. For example: instead of This Is My Side, the Les Nessman character had real walls but a taped-out desk and sat on the floor. Because "it's funnier". After all, "desk" has a "k" in it.
- Working with the Ex: Burns and Allen are exes who still work together professionally.