Talk Radio (1988)

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Released 14-Mar-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer-Talk Radio (1988)
Theatrical Trailer-Atlantic City (1980)
Theatrical Trailer-Clean (2004/I)
Theatrical Trailer-Modigliani (2004)
Theatrical Trailer-Tsotsi (2005)
Theatrical Trailer-Land of Plenty (2004)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 104:31
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Oliver Stone

Madman Entertainment
Starring Eric Bogosian
Ellen Greene
Leslie Hope
John C. McGinley
Alec Baldwin
John Pankow
Michael Wincott
Linda Atkinson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music Stewart Copeland

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-nominated play written by the multi-talented Eric Bogosian, Oliver Stoneís Talk Radio (1988) is a harrowing vision of a radio hostís downward spiral, at the hands of his audience. The film is also based on the real life murder of radio host Alan Berg.

Bogosian stars as angry shock-jock Barry Champlain, a Jewish radio personality in Dallas, Texas. Champlainís audience is largely composed of listeners who loathe his antics and somehow revel in their dislike of him. Nevertheless Champlain perversely enjoys the nightly conversations with Neo-Nazis, rapists, stoned youth and lonely grandmothers, feeding his need to be famous and in control. Hate mail and death threats arenít unusual for Champlain but he begins to become paranoid and disturbed by the amount of hatred he encounters during his show in the midnight hours of the night.

Furthermore, despite Champlainís forthright opinions which are often offensive to his late night audience of societyís fringe dwellers, his show is about to be "picked up" by a nationwide network of radio stations. However after receiving this supposedly positive news, Champlain refuses to tone down his behaviour to become more acceptable to the wider audience, much to the frustration of his boss Dan (Alec Baldwin). To further complicate matters Champlain sabotages his relationship with Laura (Leslie Hope) who is also his producer by trying to reconnect with his former wife Ellen (Ellen Greene) who he still loves. The film also stars Stone regular John C. McGinley as Stu, Champlainís right hand man and John Pankow as a studio executive. The great Michael Wincott also provides a memorable performance as Kent and lends his voice to two other characters.

Stoneís film reveals a disturbing vision of the nature of shock jocks and the price of fame. Bogosianís performance is excellent; he inhabits the role with such conviction that the filmís audience donít know if they want him to succeed or fail, much like the on-screen listening audience of his show. Talk Radio is a disturbing film and remains relevant particularly since freedom of speech is forever a conflicting topic.

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Transfer Quality


While the film heavily relies on Bogosianís natural and unpredictable performance, Stone creates a tense environment as his regular cinematographer Robert Richardson envisions the studio as a claustrophobic space, as the radio host becomes consumed with his listeners.

The PAL DVD transfer of Talk Radio is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and it is 16x9 enhanced. Considering the age of the film, the transfer is quite good.

There are no obvious digital artefacts or MPEG compression and only minor film grain. The natural colour scheme is presented well and overall there is nothing to distract the viewer from the film.

There has been an artistic decision to make a flashback segment in the film appear with reduced colour and with a softer much more glazed and romantic look. Otherwise the darker scenes set in the radio station are lit boldly with average black levels.

The film has been encoded at the average high bitrate of 7.45 Mb/s over a dual layer DVD and as a result the transfer remains sharp and defined.

The layer change occurs between chapters 10 and 11 at 57:34.

There are no subtitle streams available.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


Being a film set in a radio station, dialogue needs to be clear and defined and the stereo mix certainly delivers. The mix remains clear and audible as the volume of the dialogue and Stewart Copelandís original score compliment each other.

The stereo mix is centered at the front of the soundstage with limited subwoofer usage. George Thorogoodís Bad to the Bone is a key song of the film as it is used in the protagonistís show and during the opening credits of the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio

The main menu is a still image accompanied by George Thorogoodís Bad to the Bone. The menu provides a play all feature, scene selection options and access to Madman Propaganda and the theatrical trailer for the film.

Theatrical Trailer

Full Frame (2:09)

Madman Propaganda

Preceded by an anti-piracy warning the following trailers are included; Atlantic City (1980), Clean (2004/I), Modigliani (2004), Tsotsi (2005) and Land of Plenty (2004).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The R1 includes French and Spanish subtitles and the following additional extras:


Talk Radio is a disturbing film and remains relevant particularly since freedom of speech is forever a conflicting topic.

Considering the age of the film, the transfer is quite good.

Unfortunately the local release is bare-bones .

Ratings (out of 5)


© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1910, using DVI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

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