Chatterbox FM is a talk radio show prominently featured in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. Chatterbox is depicted as a complete radio channel in GTA III, while the GTA Liberty City Stories version of the show forms part of Liberty City Free Radio (LCFR).
Hosted and produced by Lazlow (who also co-wrote the script along with Dan Houser), Chatterbox FM is the only radio station GTA III which does not feature music; like talk radio stations in the real world, Chatterbox features a format in which listeners call in with opinions, concerns, and complaints, and the host responds with their take on the situation. The station is reported in a June 1, 2001 article on the Liberty Tree teaser site to have been brought on air in July 2001 under the ownership of Donald Love's Love Media.
Lazlow off-handedly mentions that he is only hosting Chatterbox because he "got kicked off the rock station"; he is heard hosting V-Rock in GTA Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (with Cousin Ed). When he first takes the Chatterbox job in 1998, he is referred to as the host "run out of both Vice City and San Andreas."
Callers and guests on the station were voiced by: Lucien Jones, Karen Bykowski, Hank Stewart, Abbi Davis, Mellowvision.com, Paul Maloney, Bernie S., Frank Fava, Kit Halsted, Joe Casalino, Dan Houser, Jay Crutcher, Frank Chavez, DJ Rush, A.M. Watson, Laura Bykowski, Navid Khonsari, Sherri Wohgimath, Porkchop, Renaud Sebbane, Kyle MacLachlan, Sabby, Kim Schaefer, Debi Mazar, Nick Mandelos, David Connell, Reed Tucker, Jennifer Kolbe, Ami Plasse, Keith Broadus, Cameo Carlso, J.D. Leeds and Michael Madsen.
Chatterbox FM is the Triads' favorite radio station.
Because Chatterbox is intended to offer virtually any caller to a platform voice their thoughts on any interests, calls cover a wide variety of topics that are more than often unrelated to each other. This also attracts eccentric callers who rant about or divulge bizarre subject matters, contributing to the station's humor.
Notable calls to the station include:
- A Yorkshire resident of Liberty City calling to tell Lazlow that he needs a nanny to spank him (a call so popular it would spawn a similar call about witches in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and even its own commercial in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas).
- A caller who hates clothes ("Does a lion wear clothes? And the lion is the king of the jungle!").
- One caller who talks about turnips, with Lazlow responding, "This isn't 'Gardening with Maurice'". "Gardening with Maurice" would later be heard on WCTR in GTA San Andreas, a game set nine years before GTA III.
- One of the calls is from a SPANK addict; he refers to Lazlow as a pansy, and rants about conspiracies and government brainwashing involving toothpaste.
- A caller who warns of killer bees, saying that they will "take over"; another caller to Chatterbox said the same thing in GTA Liberty City Stories, a game set three years before GTA III. The caller in GTA Liberty City Stories says that honey is "bee shit", and that killer bees will come.
- After the Reed Tucker interview, a caller yells "free Kevin!" at the end of the call, reference to infamous computer hacker Kevin Mitnick.
- A Colonel in the United States military, who talks about the Australian-American War. It is unknown whether the war was actually fought, because neither Lazlow nor anyone else in the games seem to think it happened. It's likely that the war was entirely made up in the caller's head.
- Toni Cipriani calling with an embarrassing story about his mother.
- Maria Latore calling regarding relationship troubles with her boyfriend, Claude (the mute protagonist of GTA III; Maria complains that "he don't talk much").
- A caller who indicates he is fond of eating animals of any kind says he sometimes finds pigeons that have notes attached, commenting "it's like a fortune cookie with wings".
- Another caller, a woman from "Citizens Raging Against Phones" (C.R.A.P.), a pressure group against the use of telephones, declares that the group uses carrier pigeons in the place of telephones, but that they keep going missing, implying that these are the pigeons the prior caller is eating. In Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, the predecessor to C.R.A.P. was Citizens United Negating Technology, and its caller to Chatterbox warns that they will first shut off "the internet, then we're going after the phones."
The replies Lazlow gives to his callers are usually comically caustic and opinionated. A common reply to nonsense callers is "Well I'm sure that's a lesson to us all."
The station also features two long interviews with Liberty City characters — one with the pacifist, organic food-eating martial artist Reed Tucker, and one with the "cheap pimp from upstate", Fernando Martinez (who would become a recurring character in the GTA series, on- and off-radio).
Reed Tucker is said by both Lazlow and Reed that he has a food market ("Now and Zen") in Trenton, but none exists in the game. Reed appears on talk radio again in GTA San Andreas, making a comment about masticating that the show's host interprets as masturbation due to Reed's lisp.
Fernando Martinez is similarly indicated to run a prostitution venture that masquerades as a "dating" serving that saves marriages. Advertisement for his service can be heard on various other radio station in GTA III.
GTA Liberty City Stories
In GTA Liberty City Stories, set three years before events in GTA III, Chatterbox is depicted to be one of a variety of shows in Liberty City Free Radio (LCFR). Although this facilitates the show running at a more limited time, its format remains largely unchanged from its first appearance in GTA III, sans guests. It is implied that LCFR's demised is followed by the founding of Chatterbox as a dedicated radio station, although it is not specified whether LCFR was outright replaced by or rebranded as Chatterbox, or has gone off the air well before GTA III's timeline, leaving Lawlow temporarily out of work.
As is in GTA III, Lazlow's callers are diverse but generally offensive, including someone who wants to knock down the Liberty City cathedral, a gothic girl wanting to cast spells on Lazlow, a foul-mouthed cannibal who asks why he can't eat people, a man obsessed with shaving, a 7-year-old boy with a very foul mouth, and a man complaining about Vinewood ("if I see one more damn movie with ten kids, a dog in a wheelchair and some damn baseball championship. I'm going to start killing people and blame it on Vinewood"). Ma Cipriani, the mother of the game's main character, also calls in, but gets angry with Lazlow, calling him Lazarus, and threatening him with a Mafia assassination. This is a homage to GTA III, where Toni calls Lazlow explaining how much his mother controls his life.
In Grand Theft Auto IV, when Lazlow is first mentioned on the radio, raising funds for his new radio project, Integrity 2.0, he is referred to as the host of the "long-defunct Chatterbox FM". The station also lists every other radio job Lazlow had, including working at V-Rock, in 1984 and 1986, and Entertaining America on WCTR in 1992.