The Pilot
NewsRadio episode






Paul Simms


James Burrows


Jon Spector

Production Code


Original Airdate

March 21, 1995





"The Pilot" is the first episode of the first season of NewsRadio.

Synopsis Edit

Dave Nelson arrives late for his first day on the job as news director for WNYX, an AM news radio station based in Manhattan. After meeting his new boss, station owner Jimmy James, he learns that the current news director, Ed Harlow, hasn't left his job yet, and it will be Dave's job to fire him. Dave meets other members of the staff, including Lisa, Matthew and Rick, but he is reluctant to tell them of his position before letting Ed know first. Jimmy passes him off as the new "sports guy."

Dave learns that Ed has back problems and his job is the only thing that keeps his mind off the pain, as well as providing full medical coverage. He also learns that Lisa expects to replace Ed as news director due to her extra work efforts over the past three years. After Bill and Catherine, the news anchors, both nag Ed over who gets to do an Al Gore interview, Ed quits and trudges out of the office. Dave thinks the situation has worked itself out, only to learn from Jimmy that Ed quits on a regular basis.

After Matthew is insulted by Ed over a story idea, Dave secretly admits to him that he is the new news director. Matthew quickly blabs to the rest of the staff, including Lisa, who does not take the news well. Dave tries to help her save face by claiming that Jimmy offered her the job, but she declined. Beth suggests that Dave should fire Ed in front of the rest of the staff to set an example. Before he gets the chance, he is sent to do a sports report, only to embarrass himself on the air. Ed then tries to fire Dave for incompetence, forcing him to play his hand and fire Ed. Afterwards, he makes the decision that Catherine will be doing the Al Gore interview, asserting his authority over Bill. As Ed leaves, he gloats that he has a standing offer to be news director at another station run by an old college buddy of his. Lisa and Rick later reveal that that station, WXYP, went out of business three months ago after the death of Ed's friend.

That evening, Dave meets with Jimmy in his new office and recognizes that he was being tested, but Jimmy plans to keep him guessing going forward. Lisa gives Dave a few months as news director before she gets her chance; there is a moment of romantic tension between them. A man named Jeff arrives, introducing himself as the new sports guy; Dave is suspicious, but is relieved to hear that Jeff's credentials check out.

Quotes Edit

"Make it fast, I'm in the middle of telling a guy why he's so special to me... No, no, it's work related."

-Jimmy, on the phone, regarding Dave

"It's like you know how they say when it's your first day in prison you should act crazy and beat someone with a chair so nobody will mess with you?"

-Beth to Dave on how to approach firing Ed

Dave: "Why, 'cause I'm the boss, Bill, that's why. That's why, Bill. And I will not be manipulated, I will not be contradicted, and I will not be intimidated."

Bill: "Well, I didn't realize you were a man of such strong conviction, of such deeply felt moral tenacity, of such a remarkable center..."

Dave: "All right, Bill, I'm not going to be sucked up to, either."

Bill: "Well, you've eliminated all my options. All that's left is backstabbing."

Dave: "Matthew, could I borrow your chair for a second?"

Credits Edit

Main Cast Edit

Dave Foley as Dave Nelson

Stephen Root as Jimmy James

Andy Dick as Matthew Brock

Maura Tierney as Lisa Miller

Vicki Lewis as Beth

Ella Joyce as Catherine

Phil Hartman as Bill McNeal

Guest Stars Edit

Kurt Fuller as Ed Harlow

Greg Lee as Rick

Wallace Langham as Jeff Adams

Beau Billingslea as the Security Guard

Trivia Edit

In-Universe Edit

The WNYX broadcast office is in the Criterion Building on 58th St. and Madison Ave. in Manhattan.

WNYX has a frequency of 585 AM.

Jimmy claimed to have considered 30-35 people for the news director job, most of whom had more experience than Dave, but Dave was special to Jimmy for some unknown reason that he never got around to revealing.

Dave has come to New York from Wisconsin.

Lisa has been with WNYX for at least three years at the time of this episode.

Production Edit

The opening credits for this episode appear during the teaser, followed by an abbreviated show title sequence consisting of various broadcasting equipment. This is the only episode where this title sequence was used.

This is the only episode to feature Ella Joyce as Catherine. She is only seen in the background, usually in the booth. Her voice is heard during news broadcasts and off camera, but she has no other on-camera lines.

This is also the only episode in which Rick appears. Originally, Ray Romano was considered for the station electrician character, but he and the producers agreed that he did not fit into the style of the show.

First appearance of the WNYX news office, including the main office area, the corridor outside of it, the men's room across the hall, the windowed broadcast booth, the news director's office, and the production booth. The production booth would only be used as such in Season 1.

First guest appearance by Wallace Langham as the one-shot character Jeff.

The news director's office door suddenly gains a doorknob in the last scene.

This episode features background broadcast chatter by Bill and Catherine, something which would soon get phased out. The chatter is apparently pre-recorded, and in the last scene, it's noticeable that Bill, sitting in the broadcast booth, is not exactly in sync with what he is heard saying.

This is the first episode to have a tag scene, a relative rarity in most of the series.