Los Angeles Times - 12/02/1988
"...TALK RADIO is tense, packed and crackling with life....The film is an often dazzling success. Bogosian and the cast are bravura performers; Stone a director with guts and talent..."
Sight and Sound - 01/01/2006
"Although it's one of Stone's more modestly scaled projects, the righteous anger still bubbles up in this adaptation of Eric Bogosian's play."
Based loosely on the life of the murdered talk-radio personality Alan Berg, TALK RADIO stars monologist Eric Bogosian as the abrasive, self-loathing talk-radio host Barry Champlain. He spends his nights at Dallas station KGAB engaged in vitriolic conversations with a motley assortment of racists, anti-semites, rednecks, and all-purpose lunatics. Just having learned that his show has a chance to be picked up for national syndication, Barry seems to have ratcheted up the abuse level to new heights, worrying his co-workers. Yet while Barry's career is taking off, studio boss Dan (Alec Baldwin) angers him by trying to alter the provocative content of his show. At the same time, Barry's having problems with his girlfriend and ex-wife, Ellen (Ellen Greene). And a neo-Nazi group is making increasingly menacing calls, forcing him to the edge of a possible nervous breakdown. A compelling take on the dynamics of hate radio and the wages of narcissism, Oliver Stone's film is exceptionally well shot and acted, directed with claustrophobic concentration.
TALK RADIO was based loosely on the murder of controversial Denver radio personality Alan Berg, who was killed on June 18, 1984, by white supremacists. His death also served as an inspiration for the 1988 Costa Gavras film BETRAYED.
TALK RADIO was adapted from the stage play of the same name. It first appeared in 1985 in Portland, Oregon, and was later expanded for a run at New York City's Public Theater, directed by Frederick Zollo. The stage versions were written by Eric Bogosian from an idea by Ted Savinar. Performance artist Bogosian starred in all stage and screen versions, with Linda Atkinson, Zach Grenier, John C. McGinley, and Michael Wincott appearing in both the screen and Public Theater incarnations.