WKRG's promotional robot from 1981 - 1983
Following the success of Star Wars, cute robots flooded the culture. They appeared in live TV shows, cartoons, comic books, and if you were lucky to live in Mobile, on the local channel 5 station, WKRG.
Today's special guest has worked with Santa, Ronald McDonald, Bud Man, and the WABB Wabbit. He's appeared at Springdale Mall, Bel Air Cinemas, and Gayfers. He was the smash hit of the '83 Computer Expo and from 1981 to 1983, he appeared Saturday mornings on WKRG. Today, we sit down and talk with the one the only, RG-5.
RG-5: That's quite a welcome. Thanks so much.
RMB: Glad to have you. You were truly an icon of early 80's Mobile. So, let's talk about your start. Is it true that your name came from a contest?
RG-5: Yes. There was a mail-in contest in late '81. Kids could write-in with their suggested name and then the name would be announced on live TV by Mel Showers.
RMB: So I assume hundreds of kids wrote-in.
RG-5: Yeah, you can guess how bad the other entries must have been if "RG-5" was the winning name.
RMB: So what's wrong with the name, RG-5?
RG-5: It's just the last 3 characters of the station's name! Come on, some kid is going to come up with that?
RMB: I see what you mean. So do you suspect that the contest was fixed?
RG-5: Yeah there was talk but I could never prove it. I mean if WABB's mascot is named, "Wabbit," then what is WKRG going to call their mascot? Carl? And by the way...why not a real name like Twiki? I thought after Buck Rogers, that we were making progress as a nation, but apparently not.
RMB: I see I've hit on a raw nerve.
RG-5: You could say it's a hot button for me.
RMB: Speaking of Buck Rogers. There are pictures of you floating around, hanging out with Twiki.
RG-5: Yeah, that was before the WKRG gig. I thought I was going to be a reoccurring character on Buck Rogers, but then Tina came along.
RMB: The robot that said. "Booty, booty, booty?"
RG-5: Yeah, hard to believe.
RMB: Tell me about some of the good memories you have of working for the station.
RG-5: A lot of it was Christmas parades. Which was fine. All the mascots would come out for the parades...you'd have the WKSJ Super Truck, the aforementioned Wabbit, WUNI's Woonie Girls, 92zoo's Winnezoogo, and just random craziness like clowns and gorillas. My eye receptacles would freeze up it would be so cold but the kids were always just so glad to see us.
RMB: And you did some charity events.
RG-5: Right, those always warmed my fluid valve chambers.
RMB: And what about the computer expo?
RG-5: The Computer Expo '83? Yeah that was at Baldwin County High School. It wasn't like a big thing or anything but they treated me like a rock star.
RMB: Yeah there was a picture that ran in the paper of a girl kissing you.
RG-5: What can I say? They loved me there.
RMB: After that, you pretty much dropped out of sight.
RG-5: Yeah my contract ended with the station and it was just the right time to move on.
RMB: So what happened after that?
RG-5: I got on at Disney, doing shows at Epcot. The park hadn't been opened for very long and they really didn't have much for people to do. So they would just throw a bunch of us robots out on the sidewalk like, "Hey, it's the future!"
RMB: How was it working for Disney?
RG-5: It was great, mostly. I mean, they didn't change much at Epcot for like 20 years so it was a steady gig.
RMB: So you're retired now?
RG-5: Yeah, after Disney, I just retired in Florida.
RMB: Ever think about getting back into the business?
RG-5: Nah, nobody wants a cute robot anymore. Unless you are a terminating robot or a transforming robot or some kind of drone, nobody's going to hire you.
RMB: What about BB-8? He's pretty cute.
RG-5: That glorified soccer ball? R2D2 is lucky he was shut-down for most of that picture.
RMB: So what's retirement like?
RG5: Quiet! Which I love. Most days it's just me and the old Star Tours droid, RX-24, hanging out and talking about the good old days.
RMB: Any message for your old WKRG family? You know Mel Showers is still a news anchor there.
RG5: Wow. Mel should have been obsolete a long time ago. That kind of longevity in a human is impressive! Just tell them that maybe we were never meant to be, just maybe think of me every once in a while. I was the mascot robot on WKRG in Mobile City.
The works presented here constitute "fair use." All press clippings are from the Mobile Press Register. Where possible, I have credited the original owners. Please contact the author with any corrections or omissions.
WKRG is the property of Media General Communications and no rights are implied in it use. This piece is a work of fiction. Statements provided here do not reflect the opinions of WKRG or Media General Communications.
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