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10 Movies & TV Shows For Radio Lovers

10 Movies & TV Shows For Radio Lovers

November 20th, 2023

Radio has been a staple of our lives since the first public radio transmission in 1910. 113 years later and the men and women behind the mic continue to fascinate us. We have come a long way since then but the MC and disc jockey have never strayed far from the public conscious.

Let’s look at what radio-based media is worth consuming.

1. People Just Do Nothing (TV Show, 2014)

I don’t think any tv show is more synonymous with the modern pirate radio culture than People Just Do Nothing. Although, keep in mind that People Just Do Nothing is to radio what Veep is to politics — so don’t take it too seriously.

People Just Do Nothing is a mockumentary based around the colourful lives of people running a pirate radio station called Kurupt FM in Brentford, West London. This show can be considered a comedy loosely based on the times and situations that gave rise to stations like Rinse FM.

Don’t doubt the cultural impact this TV show has had. The show was created by real DJs and MCs who spent time in the pirate radio scene. Both the real-life actors and fictional characters have had many features on modern Grime songs over the years.

People Just Do Nothing is a personal favourite of ours for a reason.

2. Born & Bred | Rinse FM (Documentary, 2016)

You can’t talk about the modern pirate, independent and community radio culture without mentioning Rinse FM. Born & Bred is a documentary mini-series based on the beginnings of Rinse FM.

Coming in at a short & sweet 20 minutes for the entire series, this documentary will give you an insight into the history of Rinse FM, the cultural impact Rinse has had and just how far is has come. From streaming illegally at the top of council flats to being a powerhouse of modern London culture, Rinse FM’s story is one worth knowing.

3. The Boat That Rocked (Movie, 2009)

I don’t think this is going to be a surprise for anyone. The Boat That Rocked is well liked for a reason. Focussing on some of the earlier days of pirate radio, when people used to broadcast from actual boats, this movie is well worth a watch. And, based on a true story to boot.

You can’t watch this film without coming away rooting for the people fighting for the right to broadcast and enjoy their music in peace.

This film was edited down and released in America under the name Pirate Radio. Debate is still up over which version is better. Why don’t you be the judge.

4. Good Morning, Vietnam (Movie, 1987)

We would be remiss to write about the best radio movies without mentioning Good Morning, Vietnam. Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, Robin William’s performance is truly one-of-a-kind.

The film follows William’s character as he is sent to Vietnam to bring comedy to the soldiers’ lives in the form of radio.

Watch this movie and see why it’s considered a classic.

5. Tower Block Dreams (Documentary, 2004)

This documentary was broadcast on BBC Three in 2004. It focussed on the music scene on council estates in London and Southend, and can be seen as the real-life equivalent to People Just Do Nothing. There are a total of three 1-hour episodes, so if you’re looking for a juicy documentary series to bite your teeth into this could be the one for you.

The documentary features younger versions of people big in the UK radio scene to this day, such as Charlie Sloth.

6. The Vast of Night (Movie, 2019)

Looking for something more recent? This movie may scratch that itch. This film was released in 2019 at the Slamdance Film Festival.

There’s something about working radio at night that makes the mind wander to the extraterrestrial. This film, based in 1950’s New Mexico, is loosely based on the Kecksburg UFO incident and the Foss Lake disappearances.

The movie follows the main characters as they investigate an audio signal that has potentially out-of-this-world origins.

If you’ve got a Prime Video account then consider choosing this for your Friday night viewing.

7. FM (TV Show, 2009)

For fans of the The IT Crowd’s Chris O’Dowd this might just be your cup of tea. Funnily enough, this is the second time that he has played a radio DJ. The first being in the aforementioned The Boat That Rocked.

This TV show originally aired in 2004 for just one season. The show follows the lives of two DJs and their producer on Skin 86.5 FM. Due to it’s short duration, this show is often overlooked and can be hard to find. However, it is well worth the watch if you can.

8. Pontypool (Movie, 2008)

Horror films and radio isn’t something I would normally think go together. However, I would be proven wrong when it comes to Pontypool.

This film is based on a radio presenter in the small town of Pontypool, Ontario. The radio presenter learns about a virus-based zombie wave and barricades himself in his booth. As the zombies start attacking the studio, he has to figure out a way to stay safe and warn his listeners about the virus over the radio.

If you’re looking for the 42nd scariest movie ever made (as ranked by Consequence of Sound) that features a radio plot then you’re in luck. A little niche on the requirements, to be sure, but this is your film.

9. Airheads (Movie, 1994)

Airheads is the 90s radio film you didn’t know you needed. Featuring one of the most stereotypical 90s cast out there — including Brendan Fraser, Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi and Joe Mantegna.

The plot is centred around a struggling rock band in LA that break into a radio station to get some air play for their demo. As things turn south, the band pull out realistic looking water guns filled with hot sauce, causing the seriousness of the crime to escalate.

The band have to deal with the continued escalation of what started out as a minor crime. And, in true 90s comedy fashion, it all gets very over the top very quickly.

10. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (Movie, 2013)

Alan Partridge is one of Steve Coogans beloved characters, a parody of British television personalities. The character was debuted in 1991 and has continued to this day.

This film sees Alan Partridge not as a TV presenter but as a Radio DJ. The station where he works, North Norfolk Digital, is bought out by a large, international corporation. Alan manages to get his colleague Pat fired.

This is a decision that will haunt him as Pat comes back to hold the radio station hostage after his termination. Alan Partridge is enlisted by the police to save the day.

Well received when it was released in 2013, this film is well worth the watch if you’re a fan of Steve Coogan or, even better, Alan Partridge.

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