Vice City Public Radio
GTA Vice City
In GTA Vice City, VCPR hosted one show, Pressing Issues, a topical discussion program hosted by Maurice Chavez (voiced by Philip Anthony Rodriguez), with supervisors Jonathan Freeloader (Patrick Olsen) and Michelle Montanius (Kelly Guest). Along with KCHAT, the other talk radio station in the game, VCPR was not released as part of the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soundtrack.
Chavez's name and voice suggest that he is of Cuban origin, and he becomes irritated when his name is pronounced incorrectly. In one edition of his program, he is held at gun-point by the power-crazed Pastor Richards, but he survives through quick thinking and flattery. Although normally calm, he loses his patience when his guests don't "press the issue," and even hits one of his guests, Jeremy Robards, with a paperweight.
Chavez is oblivious to the fact he is commonly downgraded by Jonathan Freeloader and Michelle Montanius, the announcers at VCPR who call him a "useless, talentless asshole". Over the course of several editions of the show, it is learned that Chavez made a living as "Sal, the Wheat-Free Clown" circa 1980, an occupation that earned him less than $2000 a year. Around the same time, he also tried to become a movie star, and despite going up for 17 auditions that year, he only got a job as a fluffer in a sex education video. He became so desperate that he even considered a sex change at one point. However, according to GTA Vice City Stories, he was rescued by Montanius and in return he got her pregnant. It is implied that she became part of the main VCPR crew not long after, and her pregnancy would account for her abrasive behavior to Chavez.
Freeloader is probably a reference to the website Freeloader.com, which at one point offered "light" versions of the Original Grand Theft Auto 1 as well as Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 (without in-game music), but later moved them to a paid subscription service. It currently offers Grand Theft Auto 2 as part of its free subscription service, though full versions of both GTA 1 and GTA 2 are now offered as free downloads from 'Rockstar Classics'.
Much like KCHAT, VCPR features "live" interviews; unlike the celebrity interviews on KCHAT, however, the show broadcast on VCPR within the game is called Pressing Issues, and focuses on exactly that—particular issues are chosen, and Maurice Chavez mediates an informal debate between selected guests. Three such issues are broadcast within the game.
Also on VCPR are the frequent donation drives by Montanius and Freeloader, who between shows beg for support money (as VCPR is a public show, it relies on donations) and try to make the listener feel as guilty as possible about listening to, yet not supporting Public Radio. Obviously, this is a parody of actual public radio stations in the United States like NPR.
The first debate on the station (if there is such a thing; all Vice City radio station broadcasts are designed to loop indefinitely) concerns public safety, particularly in the context of the rising tide of crime promoted in no small part by Tommy Vercetti, the game's protagonist. The three guests during this segment are:
- Congressman Alex Shrub (voiced by Chris Lucas), an extremely right-wing, cocky politician who is also the youngest congressman elected by the city. He believes that the rich should be more accepted in America and the poor forgotten about, and during the course of the debate he also reveals embarrassing facts about host Maurice Chavez (his former work as a clown, his failed attempts to be an actor, suffering from anxiety, attending group therapy, desire for a sex change, etc.) along with having an attractive girlfriend although she's married to his best friend (a reference to Scarface). Shrub also notes that an "idiot liberal" helped rescue him and launch his career in radio. In Vice City Stories it is revealed that this person is none other than Michelle Montanius.
- Social activist and extreme liberal Callum Crayshaw (Sean Modica) is a stereotypically-concerned rich boy who wants to "help the poor" in completely infeasible ways with an organization he formed called "Speaking for the Underdog", and often talks about his trips to other continents (funded by his wealthy businessman father, who doesn't seem to care about the same issues at all).
- The last panel member is secessionist and last-minute panel replacement (the previous guest was "carjacked and is now at home arming himself to the teeth," according to Chavez) John F. Hickory (L.J. Gansen), an extremely radical native Floridian (though it is revealed he only moved to Vice City recently) who believes that by digging a suitably large river, Florida can break free of the American mainland, and finally put a stop to the people flooding in from the northern states.
The second segment deals with issues of general morality. The three guests for this debate are firebrand Pastor Richards (David Green); married activist, mother and wife Jan Brown (Maureen Silliman); and naturist Barry Stark (Renaud Sebbane). Pastor Richards is a corrupt and wholly insane televangelist, who promises salvation (in the form of a radiation-proof giant living space/effigy of Richards) to all those who pay him very large donations (he later reveals that he was actually planning on using the money to build himself a palace mansion in Hawaii). Jan Brown is an overstressed, overattentive mother who is cheated on (constantly) by her husband, though she vehemently denies it on one segment of the debate. She is also the leader of Moms Against Popular Culture. Barry Stark is a naturist (ie stark naked) and a compulsive liar, with sexuality issues (he gets erections several times during the debate). Barry Stark also appeared as a caller on Chatterbox FM in Grand Theft Auto III, where he makes similar comments about nudity.
During the interview, Pastor Richards complains that "[American] newspapers are owned by Canadians with an agenda". This could be a reference to the mockumentary The Canadian Conspiracy, which details how the Canadian government is subverting the United States by taking over its media, and came out in 1985, one year before the setting of the game.
There is a perception amongst some gamers that Pastor Richards is a caricature either of former televangelist Jim Bakker or Pat Robertson. Rockstar Games has set up a toll-free telephone line that, when called, plays a recording of Pastor Richards discussing his "Salvation Statue." This plays off much of the left-over paranoia over the then-USSR. "You look out the window, and there are Russian paratroopers coming in to take over", as he told the listeners on the radio show (this line, and the lines that follow immediately, are a direct reference to the eighties Russian-invasion movie Red Dawn). His "Salvation Statue" is, as he puts it, a 50-story statue of himself complete with living quarters. If there are any disasters such as, "nuclear holocausts, plagues of flying rodents", as he mentions, those who pay him can take refuge in his statue, which could deflect, according to Richards, alpha, gamma and beta radiation. In addition, the blueprint for the statue was drawn up to include booster rockets. This is in case, as he says "the poopie hits the proverbial fan, [they] can load up those who saved themselves through generous donations, blast into space, and colonize Saturn, with a race of morally correct, affluent people, ruled by me." Toward the end of the show, Richards reveals that he did, "use money from the statue to make my own palace in Hawaii", another reference to dishonest televangelists who trick people out of their money.
Also, Chavez mentions "rock groups joining together to provide famine aid to Alaska with the song 'Do They Know It's The Fourth of July?'". This is a reference to the famous Live Aid series of concerts and its hit single, "Do They Know It's Christmas?".
By the end of this segment, Pastor Richards snaps, and, disgusted by Stark's nudism, pulls a gun on Stark and shoots him in the genitals, while Brown passes out. Barry survives and "is in need of a proctologist" (a doctor dealing with disorders of the anal area). Pastor Richards also ends up claiming the station as his own for a short while. The show then cuts away to Jonathan and Michelle.
Perception and positive thinking
The final issue is that of perception and attitude. The three guests for this debate are exaggerated gothic artist Konstantinos Smith (voice artist credited as [Konstantinos.com Konstantinos.com]); positive thinker, motivational speaker and shyster Jeremy Robard (Peter Silvestro), who claims that his 3 step program called "Think Your Way To Success" has changed people's lives and made him very rich; and Jenny Louise Crab (Mary Birdsong), a woman mentally scarred by the murder of her foster parents, but seemingly addicted to high strength mood elevators in an effort to block the memory (as such, she is insanely hyperactive and scarily cheerful).
Konstantinos is a parody of a stereotyped goth. He tells Maurice things like, "The world is a lie, man. Only darkness is truth." He mentions that he had never been out in open sunlight in upwards of 18 years. Maurice calls him a "manically depressed loonie with anaemia." (however, Konstantinos comes across at times as the most practical and stable person on the show)
During the show, Robard persistently tries to sell his motivational tape series. This series is advertised elsewhere on Vice City radio, and it's worth noting that the initials for each program spells out the name of a popular illegal drug: "Motivate, Demonstrate, then Motivate Again" spells out "MDMA", the scientific abbreviation for Ecstasy; "Learn, Start, Doing" spells out "LSD", the abbreviation for lysergic acid diethylamide; "Think, Hold that thought, Complete" spells out "THC" the abbreviation for Tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary chemical in marijuana. Later in his dialogue he mentions, "And if you want to think really fast, try my crank-it-out program" (Crank is slang for Methamphetamine). Another notable reference to drugs is when he tells Crab, "[Crab] I can get you something much better [than the antidepressant]," implying that he has connections to drugs somewhere.
Interestingly, Robard's self-help tapes are not his first entrepreneurial endeavour. In Vice City Stories he runs an "Import/Export" business where clients lease a boat and ferry "special" cargo to and from an island base not too far from Vice City. Like the implied nature of his self-help tape business, his "Import/Export" business actually consists of drug-running via boats.
Near the end of the show, Maurice eventually sees that Robard's program is worth nothing, that it hasn't got him anywhere, that he is not a rich successful business man, that he hasn't changed anyone's lives, and that he is nothing but a poor desperate fraud. After an exchange of insults, which includes Robard telling Konstantinos to put a hex on Maurice, Maurice becomes incensed and breaks Jeremy's nose with a 'heavy paperweight' on the air. Robard then threatens to sue, but is quickly cowed when Maurice threatens further violence.
GTA Vice City Stories
In GTA Vice City Stories, VCPR features a variety of radio programs that satirize American culture, such as Bait 'n switch, in which features vietnam war veteran rednecks, and New World Order, which satirizes bellicose racists, Time Ranger, which shows typical American hypocrisy, and Gordon Moorehead Rides Again, satirizes American hypocrisy during the cold war. Just like LCFR in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories - VCPR would move on to feature just one show by 1986, Pressing Issues. Like 1986, the chatter and pledge drives are still run by Freeloader and Montanius, after many major missions VNN news will interupt any radio show to play the news.
Radio Shows brodcasted on VCPR
- Pressing Issues - public affairs program hosted by Maurice Chavez; Only VCPR program to appear in both Vice City and Vice City Stories
- New World Order - Foreign affairs program hosted by Dwayne Thorn
- Bait and Switch - fishing show taped at the Vice City Boat and Sports Show. Hosted by Larry Joe and Bobby Ray
- The Time Ranger - Re-run of a fictional radio program that originally aired in 1938
- Gordon Moorehead Rides Again - Re-run of a fictional radio program that originally aired in the late 1940s
Note that despite its name, VCPR is apparently broadcast nation wide.