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Talk Radio (1988)

R  |   |  Drama  |  13 January 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 9,602 users  
Reviews: 75 user | 37 critic

A rude, contemptuous talk show host becomes overwhelmed by the hatred that surrounds his program just before it goes national.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Linda Atkinson ...
Sheila Fleming
Jeffrey Fisher / Francine
Sid Greenberg
Tony Frank ...
Harlan Jordan ...
Bill Johnson ...
Fan #1
Kevin Howard ...
Fan #2
Woman at Basketball Game / Denise


An acerbic radio talk show host based in Dallas starts what could be an important few days when he discovers that his controversial late night show is about to be "picked up" by a nationwide network of radio stations. However, all is not perfect for him, because on top of troubles with his love life and fears that the management of the network will try to alter the content of his show he has to cope with a neo-nazi group who have been angered by his forthright opinions. Written by Mark Thompson <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The last neighborhood in America. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

13 January 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

As Vozes da Ira  »

Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)


$3,468,572 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


A warehouse in Dallas, Texas was converted into a fully equipped radio station. See more »


After picking up Ellen from the airport the car that Barry is driving is in "Park." This can be seen in the shots through the windshield. See more »


Barry: [At Dan] I hope you're not calling the cops, because if you are, I'm going to get really pissed off! Get off the phone, or I walk. Don't waste my time man. Hang it or I walk! Hang it up!
See more »


References I Love Lucy (1951) See more »


KGAB Radio ID's
Written & Arranged by Otis Conner and Whitey Thomas
Produced by Otis Conner
Recorded at The Otis Conner Companies Studio, Dallas, Texas
Additional KGAB Music Backgrounds Provided by APM
See more »

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User Reviews

Still one of Oliver Stone's directorial triumphs; Bogosian is captivating
10 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In one of the more under-seen films of the late 1980's, at a time when Oliver Stone was riding high with Platoon and Wall Street (and before his opus Born on the Fourth of July), he co-scripted and directed this look at the world of radio, specifically one radio host in the middle of Texas. This man is Barry Champlain, in a once-in-a-career turn from Eric Bogosian, who wrote the original play and also co-wrote the script. Barry is like a mix of Howard Stern and one of those pundits you hear on the radio stations many of us might turn off. He's got ideas on his mind, opinions, and he's not only un-afraid to speak them, but also to stand up against the phone callers. The callers, indeed, are the driving force in the film, as Barry has to combat against the mindless, the obscene, the racist, and the purely absent-minded. As this goes on, he also has to contend with his boss (Alec Baldwin) and a hit or miss deal to go nationwide, outside the confines of the Southern way station he's in.

While after seeing the film I felt curious as to see how it would've been done on stage (I'd imagine it was a one-man show, as Bogosian has had several on the side), the direction of the film is phenomenal. Stone has been known, almost typecast, as a director who loves quick cuts, the limitless effects of montage, and effects with the styles of camera-work and other little tricks, that give his films in the 90's a distinctive, almost auteur look. But in the 80's he had this energy and feverish quality to the look of the film, and wasn't as frenzied as the other films. In order to add the proper intensity that is within the studio and head-space of Barry Champlain, he and DP Robert Richardson make the space seem claustrophobic at times, gritty, un-sure, and definitely on edge. The scenes in the middle of the film, when Barry isn't in the studio, are fairly standard, but the style along with the substance in the radio scenes is among the best I've seen from the Stone/Richardson combination.

And one cannot miscalculate the performance of Bogosian, who can be obnoxious, offensive, angered, passive, and everything that we love and hate in radio show hosts. There is also a funny, near distracting supporting role for Michael Wincott as Kent/Michael/Joe, who prank calls him one night, and the next gets invited to the studio. These scenes are a little uncomfortable for a viewer, but it does get very much into the subculture head-space of the 80's that Barry is as intrigued as he is critical of. The stoner may not 'get it', but as he says to him "it's your show". Indeed, it's hard to cover everything that goes on within the talk, and there is a lot of it. But it's never boring, and like Champlain himself, it's not easy to ignore. And when Bogosian goes into his climactic tirade on air, with the background panning around in a continuous 360 spin, it becomes intoxicating, and a reason why freedom of speech is so powerful.

Stone has been synonymous as a filmmaker of hot-button issues, who takes on subjects that were or still are controversial, and gives them a life-force that isn't always great, but is all his own. Here his skills and ambitions don't get in the way of Bogosian's- it's boosted, if anything, making an extremely skilled vision of what is essentially a near one-man show, which in and of itself is already well-written.

32 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Liberal Talk Radio Hosts? pauluswiggus
Stone's Best? Professor_Abronsius
Howard Stern cptmorrow
What a piece of crap ChrisSmithBoston63
What was the dispute between Stone and Bogosian? Scoooter
the play brassmonkey125
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