Dr. Frasier Crane Hosted a Call-in Radio Show on ‘Frasier’ for a Surprising Reason

The character of Dr. Frasier Crane may have been born on Cheers, but the character really came into his own on the famed spinoff, Frasier. In the series, the psychiatrist moved back to his hometown of Seattle to take on a new job as a call-in radio host. Frasier’s career became a prominent element of the show, but initially, the radio gig was only used to differentiate the series from a different show.

Why was Dr. Frasier Crane selected for a spinoff series?

Back in the early 1990s, NBC was desperate to cash-in on the success of Cheers. The network had already attempted one spinoff with little success, but they weren’t totally soured on the idea. Interested in avoiding the trouble they ran into with The Tortellis, the network decided to give a show to a well-known and beloved character.

Kelsey Grammer as Doctor Frasier Crane in his radio studio
Kelsey Grammer as Doctor Frasier Crane | NBCU Photo Bank

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Kelsey Grammer and his portrayal of Dr. Frasier Crane was chosen, and the story seemed to come together organically. The trouble in Frasier’s marriage to Dr. Lilith Sternin was heavily featured on Cheers¸ which made the Frasier’s backstory feel very natural.  

Frasier’s job was an attempt to differentiate the series from The Bob Newhart Show

Frasier’s job seemed like an important aspect of the show’s storyline. Eventually, it absolutely became a key element of the series. That wasn’t intended in the beginning, though. In fact, the character was tasked with running a call-in radio show to differentiate the series from a previous series about a psychiatrist.

Bob Newhart as Bob Hartley sees a client in 'The Bob Newhart Show'
Bob Newhart as Bob Hartley in ‘The Bob Newhart Show’ | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

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According to Mental Floss, series’ creators, David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee, gave Frasier a call-in radio show because they were afraid of being compared to The Bob Newhart Show. In the series, Bob Newhart portrayed Bob Hartley, a psychiatrist who saw a series of zany characters in his private practice. The series ran on CBS from 1972 until 1978.

Series creators were also careful to avoid too many associations with Boston

Besides wanting to differentiate Frasier from shows like The Bob Newhart Show, the show’s creators were also careful to distinguish the spinoff from Cheers. While Frasier was a spinoff of Cheers, the show’s creators wanted to avoid too many associations with the series. They also wanted to avoid having too many Cheers characters drop in on the show.  

John Mahoney as Martin Crane and Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane
John Mahoney as Martin Crane and Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane | NBCU Photo Bank

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The creators decided to base the Crane family far away from the Boston bar Frasier once haunted to accomplish it. Seattle, however, was a last-minute choice. Initially, the show was going to be based in Denver.