Talk Radio

Talk Radio Information

Talk Radio is a 1988 American drama film, starring Eric Bogosian, Ellen Greene, and Leslie Hope. Directed by Oliver Stone, the film was based on the play by Eric Bogosian and Tad Savinar. Portions of the film and play were based on the assassination of radio host Alan Berg in 1984 and the book Talked to Death: The Life and Murder of Alan Berg by Stephen Singular. The film was entered into the 39th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Silver Bear.

Plot summary

Barry Champlain, a Jewish radio personality in Dallas, Texas, is a host with a caustic sense of humor and a knack for cutting people down with his controversial politically liberal views.

Champlain's radio show is about to go nationwide. A former suit salesman, he achieves his rise to fame through a guest shot on the Jeff Fisher radio show. He is subsequently given his own show. Barry has a substantial number of hostile callers trying to intimidate him and sometimes receives threatening fan mail, such as when one caller makes a bomb threat. His rise to fame is accompanied not only with attention from radical elements, but also with the alienation of his wife.


Eric Bogosian wrote the screenplay with help from director Oliver Stone. The script was almost entirely based on Bogosian's original play with some biographical information about Alan Berg, a talk show host in Denver who was murdered in 1984 by white supremacists. In his research for the film version, Bogosian often watched the on-air production of Tom Leykis' talk show, then originating from Los Angeles station KFI. Bogosian's fictional character shares many speech patterns and mannerisms with real-life talker Leykis.

Filming took place mostly in Dallas, Texas and Irving, Texas. The original play takes place entirely during the on-air broadcast and there are no scenes outside the radio station.


  • Eric Bogosian ... Barry Champlain
  • Ellen Greene ... Ellen
  • Leslie Hope ... Laura
  • John C. McGinley ... Stu
  • Alec Baldwin ... Dan
  • John Pankow ... Dietz
  • Michael Wincott ... Kent/Michael/Joe (voice)
  • Robert Trebor ... Jeffrey Fisher/Francine
  • Tony Frank ... Dino
  • Anna Levine ... Woman at the Basketball Game/Denise
  • Rockets Redglare ... Killer/Redneck Caller
  • Park Overall ... Debbie/Agnes/Theresa (voice)
  • Earl Hindman ... Chet/Black John/Jerry (voice)
  • Linda Atkinson ... Sheila Fleming
  • Zach Grenier ... Sid Greenberg
  • Harlan Jordan ... Coach Armstrong
  • Bill Johnson ... Fan #1
  • Kevin Howard ... Fan #2
  • Bruno Rubeo ... Tony
  • Pirie MacDonald ... Judge Willard
  • Allan Corduner ... Vince / Morris
  • Mimi Cochran ... Girl #1
  • Teresa Bell ... Girl #2 / Lucy
  • Angus G. Wynne III ... Engineer
  • Chip Moody ... Announcer
  • David Poynter ... Engineer
  • Peter Zapp ... Josh / Vincent (voice)
  • Carl Kissin ... Glen (voice)
  • Michele Mariana ... Rhonda / Elderly Woman / Julia (voice)
  • John Seitz ... Bob (voice)
  • Kyle McClaran ... Arnold (voice)
  • Dee Pyland ... Nancy (voice)
  • Daniel Escobar ... Frank (voice)
  • William De Acutis ... John the Rapist / Ralph (voice) (as Bill DeAcutis)
  • Frederica Meister ... Sexy Woman (voice)
  • Luis Barajas ... Fred (voice)
  • Vernie Bailey ... Jackie (voice)
  • Martin Rayner ... Arnold (voice)
  • Alan Clark ... Larry (voice)
  • Moby ... Station Announcer / Newscaster (voice)
  • John B. Wells ... V.O. (voice)
  • Leigh French ... Newscaster (voice)
  • Walter Lynn ... Newscaster (voice)
  • Theresa Bell ... Lucy (uncredited)
  • Fernando Lara ... Newcaster (uncredited)


Talk Radio received mostly positive reviews from critics and holds an 80% fresh rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes as of September 30, 2012.

In popular culture

Parts of the film have been sampled by many bands.

Barry's enthusiastic "Hooooo-oyy!" outcry mocking a caller's southern accent was used prominently in the 1990 Revolting Cocks song Beers, Steers, and Queers.

The conversation over the air with "Ralph" while Michael Wincott's character "Joe" enters the studio consisting of "Something is wrong... like nobody's driving the train. The system... there's too many people getting sick" was used by the California punk band Lagwagon on the album "Blaze."

The anecdote that Barry provides about "...a little dog trotting over this bridge" was used by the New York Hardcore band Most Precious Blood in their song Oxygen Debt on their album Merciless.

The radio tower featured at the end of the film is used by KDFW, a local television station. At the time of filming, KDFW was a CBS affiliate, however has since become a FOX affiliate.

The end theme is "Telephone and Rubber Band" by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

Sound clips from the film were used by sound collage group Negativland in a December 1991 episode of their weekly Over the Edge program, "Radio Wars".

See also

  • List of American films of 1988
  • Hate speech

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Talk_Radio_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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