So, how are you spending your time waiting for Grand Theft Auto V? I’m enjoying one of the best parts of the GTA series – the radio stations. I’ve picked what I feel are the ten best stations GTA has to offer to so far. These were tough choices, but I think my selections represent the best of the bunch.
10. CSR 103.9 – GTA: San Andreas
DJ: Philip “PM” Michaels (Michael Bivins)
Genre: New Jack Swing
Finding someone that played a pivotal role in the short-lived New Jack Swing genre to host Contemporary Soul Radio is how Rockstar really made this station work. Michael Bivins, who performed in the group BBD, is wonderful at pitching these smooth grooves that dominated MTV and Top 40 radio in the late 80s and early 90s. The tracklist is also stellar and features probably the best New Jack Swing cuts from that era.
9. Liberty Rock Radio – GTA IV
DJ: Iggy Pop
Genre: Classic Rock
While Liberty Rock Radio does contain a solid playlist, it’s Iggy Pop’s dialogue that really draws me to this station. Iggy Pop’s rants are poignant and funny, and in some respects reflect some of GTA IV’s core themes. His ramblings on art, drugs, modern music and hipster culture is perfect commentary on the modern age.
8. Flashback 95.6 – GTA III
Genre: 80s Pop
Featuring music from the Scarface soundtrack, Flashback 95.6 is a treat for any fan of early 1980s pop-music. DJ Toni’s nostalgic remarks about her party-girl days are humorous and many of her stories are explored once again in Vice City. Other than Chatterbox, this is my go-to station whenever I decide to revisit GTA III.
7. Radio Los Santos – GTA: San Andreas
DJ: Julio G.
Genre: West Coast Hip-Hop
GTA: San Andreas just wouldn’t be the same without Radio Los Santos. Gangsta rap was huge in the early 90s, so it’s only natural that a game all about gangs during that time would feature a station dedicated to the genre. “It Was A Good Day” by Ice Cube, “Guerillas in tha Mist” by Da Lench Mob and the always amazing “Nothin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog are among the station’s best cuts, but really the entire playlist is outstanding.
6. VCPR – GTA: Vice City
Host: Maurice Chavez
VCPR perfectly satirizes public radio. Maurice Chavez makes for an excellent clueless moderator, and his arguments with co-hosts Jonathan Freeloader and Michelle Montanius (whom Chavez used to date) make for some great entertainment. There are plenty of pretentious topics explored on VCPR and the station promos that insult listeners that haven’t donated are brilliant.
5. Flash FM – GTA: Vice City
Genre: Modern Rock/Pop
Flash FM is my third favorite Vice City radio station. The playlist is a great eclectic mixture of recognizable hits and lesser-known classics, and Toni is the perfect scene-girl to introduce them. Much like Flashback, Flash FM really is all about the music.
4. Integrity 2.0 – GTA IV
Lazlow is the most famous DJ/host to come out of the Grand Theft Auto series. He’s a fan-favorite that is featured in every game since GTA III. In addition, Lazlow writes a lot of the radio content for the GTA series. Integrity 2.0 is the most recent incarnation of Lazlow and this time he’s back to doing what he does best – talking. Lazlow’s probably the most egotistical he’s ever been, and his confrontations with the irritable citizens of Liberty City are quite amusing. My personal favorite bit is when Lazlow assaults a hot dog vendor. Comedy gold.
3. Emotion 98.3 – GTA: Vice City
DJ: Fernando Martinez
Genre: Power Ballads
Before Fernando Martinez offered sleazy love advice on Chatterbox, he offered sleazy love advice in between some of the best soft rock tunes the 1980s had to offer. Emotion 98.3 easily has some of the best song selections out of any GTA radio station. Highlights include “Africa” by Toto, “(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight” by Cutting Crew and REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Loving You”. Other than awesome music, Fernando’s musings are hilarious: “Oh, that song was magnificent! Like a beautiful lady, or a pack of ugly, desperate ones. You know, the kind anyone can get a hold of, even if you’re a little slow and take special classes.”
2. Chatterbox FM – GTA III
While Chatterbox is Lazlow at his best, the big reason I gave it the number two slot is because of how influential it was in terms of reoccurring characters and running jokes. Chatterbox gave us Fernando Martinez, Lazlow as a rock DJ, the Australian-American War, and a reference to “Gardening With Maurice” which was later featured on WCTR in San Andreas. Not only that, but it laid the foundation for how talk stations in other games were used to add further depth the story. Also, who could forget Citizens Raging Against Phones (C.R.A.P.)?
1. V-Rock – GTA: Vice City
“Only sissies cry! Real mean stand in the rain and listen to this!” V-Rock is the definitive GTA radio station. It has the best station identifications, the best commercials (“Knife After Dark” is my favorite), great Lazlow rants and some seriously dope music. Seriously, with a playlist that includes Iron Maiden, Anthrax, Slayer and Tesla you really can’t go wrong. Throwing in a few songs by the Rockstar-created band Love Fist doesn’t hurt, either. V-Rock is the very definition of excessive 1980s metal, and I always crank it up when I’m cruisin’ the streets of Vice City.