Movies, List, Broadcaster, Radio, Broadcasting

10 Movies Every Radio Lover Needs to Watch

Are you a broadcaster looking to watch a relatable flick for your next movie night? There are plenty of movies about radio that have been made over the years. From dramas to comedies, horrors, and even documentaries, the landscape of radio has been captured by directors and actors in various ways.

Whether you're looking for new movies about radio to add to your watchlist or you would like to check how many of these flicks you've seen already, scroll down to view our comprehensive list of 10 movies we feel every radio lover needs to watch. We hope you find your new favorite motion picture below!

1. Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

We're kicking off this list with an all-time classic. Good Morning, Vietnam is mandatory viewing if you call yourself a broadcaster. With a top-notch comedic performance from the great Robin Williams, this movie set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War is truly one-of-a-kind.

The film follows Williams' character, Adrian Cronauer, as he is sent to Vietnam to bring some radio comedy to the lives of the soldiers. Cronauer delights the G.I.s but shocks his superior officer with his irreverant take on the war. By the end of this flick, you'll have the urge to shout "Goooood Morning Vietnam!" every morning.

2. Pump Up the Volume (1990)

Before Allan Moyle made the cult classic Empire Records, he created this highly-underrated film about a teen from Arizona who starts a school uprising via a pirate radio station. Pump Up the Volume stars Christian Slater as Mark Hunter: a kid who's lonely by day, and a secret raunchy radio personality by night. When his show gets blamed for a classmate committing suicide, the students clash with faculty and authorities. Conspiracies, scandals, and classic high school hijinks all ensue.

If you enjoy dark and unconventional teen movies like Heathers or flicks that follow morally grey characters who inspire anarchy like in Joker, this movie is right for you. With Pump Up the Volume, you'll be hanging on to every word Mark - and his DJ alter-ego "Hard Harry" - say. It may even inspire you to "Talk hard!"

3. The Vast of Night (2019)

The Vast of Night is a newer film about radio that made a big splash at the Slamdance Film Festival back in 2019. In this sci-fi story, two radio-obsessed teens discover a strange frequency over the airwaves in what becomes the most important night of their lives and in the history of their small New Mexico town. Could it be...aliens?

The Vast of Night is a fantastic debut from director Andrew Patterson. You'll also be hooked by the performances from Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz. It's a film that makes the most out of its micro-budget, and is a heartfelt piece about the connections we form during uncertain and mysterious times.

4. Airheads (1994)

Looking for an ultra-goofy 90s comedy that takes place in a radio station? Try Airheads. Directed by Michael Lehmann, it stars Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler as a heavy-metal band willing to do whatever it takes to get their demo tape heard: even if it means hijacking an AM rock station and holding the DJs hostage until they agree to broadcast the band's recording.

If you like screwball comedies with rock 'n roll influence like School of Rock or Detroit Rock City, then Airheads may be your next favorite movie. Also, this flick features Adam Sandler in a crop top. Need we say more?

5. Talk Radio (1988)

Talk Radio is considered one of Oliver Stone's best movies. It was also the film that introduced the world to the amazing Eric Bogosian as talk show host Barry Champlain: a man who becomes overwhelmed by the hatred that surrounds his program just before it goes national.

Talk Radio is a sweaty, claustrophobic crucible of male self-destruction. If you love stressful films that deal with Jewish characters like Uncut Gems, you'll feel right at home with this story. Much like Barry's show, Talk Radio is full of style, wordplay, and emotion.

6. Straight Talk (1992)

Are you a fan of Dolly Parton's work? Love romantic and wholesome feel-good films? If so, Straight Talk was made for your next movie night. Parton stars as the small-town Shirlee Kenyon, who ditches her boyfriend and heads to Chicago for a new life. She accidentally has to host a radio problem phone-in show, and learns that she's a natural at talking to call-in audiences.

After being hired as a host on the spot, the station insists she call herself Doctor. As her popularity grows, a local reporter starts digging for the truth about her origins. But the more he is around her, the more his fascination for her grows. Straight Talk is cozy, easily digestible, and features stars who know how to be stars.

7. Pontypool (2008)

This one's for horror lovers! Pontypool may have one of the most unique scary movie plots we've ever heard of. It follows disc jockey Grant Mazzy as he reports to his basement radio station in a Canadian town. He thinks it's just another day at work...until he hears reports of a virus that turns people into zombies. Mazzy barricades himself in his radio station booth and figures out a way to warn his listeners about the virus through the airwaves.

Borrowing more from Orson Wells's War of the Worlds than its own source novel, Pontypool creates its world and characters with an elegant compactness. It's refreshing, claustrophobic, smart, and Stephen McHattie is at the top of his game as Mazzy.

8. Pirate Radio (2009)

Pirate Radio is a beloved 2009 comedy based in the 1960s. It's about a band of DJs in Britain who refuse to stop playing rock 'n roll music despite the government trying to ban it. It's loosely based on the events in Britain in the 60's when the Labour government of Harold Wilson wanted to bring pirate radio stations under control - leading to the passage of the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act.

Led by a star-studded and energetic cast (actors include Bill Nighy, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Chris O'Dowd, Emma Thompson, and Kenneth Branagh, just to name a few), Pirate Radio is a character-based, rock 'n roll fueled romp. What it lacks in actual plot it makes up for through masterful characterisation and genuine laughs.

9. Sex and Broadcasting: A Film About WFMU (2014)

For those who prefer documentaries, we have a fresh mid-2010's film that managed to get programmed at the esteemed Doc NYC festival. Sex and Broadcasting follows a New Jersey radio station called WFMU: pegged as the world's strangest and most unique station. It features one man's attempt to keep it alive in the face of a recession, the threat of commercial media, and the challenges that come with keeping a rebellious group of outsiders together.

Throughout the doc, director Tim K. Smith manages to keep digressions in check, brushing past the technical jargon of radio in order to focus more on the station itself and its various inhabitants. It's a pretty intimate portrait of a misfit-music-nerd sideshow, and we feel this piece deserves more love.

10. Midnight FM (2010)

We end this list with a South Korean crime thriller that's appropriate for viewing during the wee hours of the night. In Midnight FM, popular TV anchorwoman and late night DJ Ko Sun-young sets to host her final radio program. But during the show, she receives a shocking text message instructing her to follow specific directions...or the lives of her family will be endangered.

A true nail-biter that plays into the fears of any parent, Midnight FM will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout its entire 106 minute runtime. South Korea has produced some pretty impeccible thriller films, and this is an underrated one that has managed to slip under cinephiles' radars.

This list doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of great radio movies out there. If you're looking for more recommendations, check out our most recent sequel article 10 More Movies Every Radio Lover Should Watch. Happy viewing and broadcasting!

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Article Image: A couple watches a movie on their couch. The movie plays from a projector in front of them while they both eat from bowls of popcorn. (PopularImages via DepositPhotos.)

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About Kathryn Milewski

  • New Jersey