Genres: Comedy



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NewsRadio is an American television sitcom created by Paul Simms and set at WNYX, a fictional AM news radio station in New York City populated by an eccentric station owner and staff.

The series originally aired in the USA on NBC from 21 March, 1995 – 4 May, 1999. There are 97 episodes in five seasons.

NewsRadio originally aired in South Africa on SABC3. The series premiered on DStv's Sony Entertainment (SET) channel in 2008.

Season 5 premiered on SET on Wednesday 1 October 2008, at 15h55. New episodes air daily, from Mondays to Fridays. There are 22 episodes in the fifth season.

Season 5 Repeats

Weekdays: 06h50, 10h20


The series is set at WNYX, a fictional AM news radio station in New York City populated by an eccentric station owner and staff.

The show begins with the arrival of new news director, level-headed Dave Nelson. While Dave turns out to be less naive than his youthful appearance suggests, he never fully gains control of his co-workers.

The fast-paced scripts and ensemble cast combine physical humour and sight gags with smart dialogue and absurdist storylines. Plots often involved satirical takes on historical events, news stories and pop culture references appealed to a sophisticated, college-educated target audience.

The third- and fourth-season finales took the absurdism to the extreme, setting the characters first in a news radio station in outer space, and then as crew members aboard the Titanic.

Main Characters

Dave Nelson

Played by Dave Foley

A fish-out-of-water character in many ways. The character is described as a "Midwesterner out of place in New York and pointedly young for such a responsible job."

He also has a very polite, controlled and rational personality, which contrasts with the more colourful personalities of the other characters and the absurd situations that occur on the show.

A recurring joke in the show involves his mother - his frequent phone conversations with her and a picture of her he keeps in his desk.

Lisa Miller

Played by Maura Tierney

Lisa, with whom Dave has an intermittent relationship, is promoted and demoted within the show's run, serving as reporter, on-air personality, producer and news director.

An obsessive overachiever, Lisa is able to instantly perform complex mathematical calculations mentally, keeps a detailed life-plan, and not only frequently brags about her SAT exam scores but went so far as to retake the exam well out of college.

During the first two seasons of the show, she is in regular contact with her ex-boyfriend Stuart, who is extremely popular with the staff of WNYX (excluding Dave) and who is obviously still in love with her.

Bill McNeal

Played by Phil Hartman

Bill is a co-news anchor for WNYX. Bombastic, egocentric, and insubordinate, Bill is frequently a thorn in the news director's side.

As news director, Dave and Lisa both struggle to deal with Bill. His relationships are often unorthodox or contentious.

A running joke in the show has Bill describing seemingly painful or scarring childhood memories with an air of nostalgia, often wistfully saying, "good times, good times."

As a result of Hartman's death between the fourth and fifth seasons, Bill's death is addressed in the first episode of the fifth season, where Bill is revealed to have died of a sudden heart attack. Ironically, dozens of references are made to Bill's hypothetical death prior to Hartman's death.

The character claims to have numerous enemies and stalkers, survives an assassination attempt in Xmas Story, and in both fantasy episodes every character dies except for Bill and Matthew.

Catherine Duke

Played by Khandi Alexander

Catherine is the second of WNYX's news anchors. She is often bitter rivals with co-anchor Bill McNeal, partly due to an office affair they had earlier.

Catherine leaves the station for a job in London during the fourth season. She makes a brief appearance in the fifth season premiere for Bill's funeral.

The role of Catherine was played by a different actress, Ella Joyce, in the pilot episode. Alexander took over the role in Episode 2.

Jimmy James

Played by Stephen Root

Jimmy is the station's eccentric, extroverted, playful billionaire owner. Despite owning a large corporate empire, he seems to enjoy micromanaging WNYX.

He is seen as a loving father figure by everyone in the office, and often helps his employees learn life lessons.

A recurring theme in the show is James' desperate search for a wife, a quest in which he often involves WNYX. He frequently shows signs of being infatuated with Dave's mother.

Jimmy claimed to be both famed hijacker D.B. Cooper and Watergate whistleblower Deep Throat. The name "Jimmy James" came from the Beastie Boys song "Jimmy James".


Played by Vicki Lewis

Beth is Dave's quirky secretary, whose main responsibility seems to be getting coffee for Dave. She wears ridiculous outfits, and perpetually chews gum.

Her salary is the subject of several jokes, with both herself and other characters frequently pointing out that she "earns next to nothing".

Beth's last name is never revealed; in "Freaky Friday", she claims she doesn't even have one. The name "Beth" itself came from the Kiss song "Beth".

In the third season DVD commentary, the writers revealed they had been planning to have Jimmy adopt Beth as his daughter, but never followed through with it.

Matthew Brock

Played by Andy Dick

A news reporter and official "office weird guy". Clumsy, awkward and maladroit, the character is the butt of many physical jokes on the show, and is often seen tripping, falling, flying over furniture, or handling electronics that explode or catch fire.

Matthew idolizes Bill, who in return calls him "Spaz" and torments him with often cruel jokes.

Matthew is known for his odd obsessions and his slavish devotion to his pet cats, once even refusing a plum assigment because it would require being separated from them for several days.

Matthew holds a degree in dentistry, but prefers to work in radio journalism, considering it his passion.

Joe Garrelli

Played by Joe Rogan

Joe is the station's electrician and all-around "fix-it guy". He builds all the things he needs rather than purchasing them, including his own homemade duct tape which he uses in massive amounts.

He also espouses various conspiracy theories, being particularly concerned with the government's suppression of information about extraterrestrials.

His last name is the subject of a running gag: on many occasions when it is mentioned, someone looks perplexed and says, "Your last name is Garrelli?".

Throughout the show, he displays an infatuation with Catherine Duke.

The character of Joe was originally named Rick, and was played by another actor, Greg Lee, in the pilot episode. Greg Lee tested horribly, however, and the writers replaced him with Rogan.

Ray Romano was originally cast to play Joe, but was fired because his style of verbal comedy did not mix well with the fast-paced repartee of the rest of the cast.

The writers commented on the Season 1 DVD commentary that his particular brand of slow speech contrasted horribly with the fast-paced hectic arena of a New York talk radio station.

Max Lewis

Played by Jon Lovitz

Max is Bill McNeal's replacement in season five. Much like the rest of the staff, he has an odd personality and a complete lack of professionalism.

Max has a thing for redheads, and Beth in particular; but although she is initially interested in him, she quickly ends up disliking him.

Max Lewis got the job at WNYX because he is an old colleague of Bill McNeal; a plot point that reflects the real-life fact that Jon Lovitz took the role in NewsRadio out of friendship for Phil Hartman.

Indeed, Lovitz got his start with Hartman in The Groundlings. When asked why he joined NewsRadio, Lovitz said that he's "doing this for Phil. There's nothing more to say."


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