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"You're listening to Chatterbox, hosted by me, Lazlow, because I got kicked off the rock station."
GTA Radio is an extensive Show Within a Show within the Grand Theft Auto universe. Although an early form existed in Grand Theft Auto II, it started when radio personality Lazlow Jones was hired to produce the radio shows for the series. Starting with Grand Theft Auto III, he created a whole series of fake stations, with the only thing real being the music (either originally produced for the games or licensed). Otherwise, the commercials, DJs, and shows are spoofs of those on actual radio (including where he spoofs himself).
The stations cover a huge variety, ranging from talk, rock, techno, rap, country, and others. The DJs are just as colorful.
In Grand Theft Auto IV, this even expanded to full TV shows and the Internet.
This Show in a Show provides examples of: Edit
- Actor Allusion: See Celebrity Paradox below. Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith, host of San Andreas's classic rock station K-DST, complains about the plaid-wearing grunge rockers featured on the modern rock station Radio X, which his own voice actor -- Guns N' Roses vocalist Axl Rose -- was famous for wearing himself in real life.
- The Ahnold: Jack Howitzer, from the GTAIII saga.
- All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles: The Princess Robot Bubblegum cartoon on IV's CNT channel, which parodies many Japanese Media Tropes. There's also a trailer for a separate Humongous Mecha show with an equally Word Salad Title.
- All-Natural Snake Oil: Waylon Mason, who appears on Intelligent Agenda on PLR in IV promotes his "home remedies" and attacks the other two guests as agents of big pharmaceutical companies. The show ends with him giving involuntary trepanations to the other two guests in order to remove the "demons that are controlling them."
- Alternate Continuity: Averted. Even as IV jettisoned the established canon and started from scratch, GTA Radio's continuity went on, with Lazlow making a return and several gags and characters from previous games (Love Fist, the Epsilon Program, Marvin Trill) being referenced. The radio is arguably the only point of continuity between the III canon and the IV canon.
- As Himself: Bas Rutten, though its not much of an exaggeration.
- Attack of the Political Ad: John Hunter and Michael Graves run these in IV.
- Blind Idiot Translation: Parodied in Princess Robot Bubblegum.
- Butt Monkey: Lazlow in Vice City Stories and in IV.
- California Doubling: Of a sort. Stock Footage from Red Dead Redemption (then still in development) is used in a Weazel News segment to stand in for the Middle East.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: In The Lost and Damned...
Max Cavalera: "Fuck you, Jimmy [Gestapo], you left puke all over the studio last night!"
- Celebrity Paradox: Axl Rose voices Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith in San Andreas's classic rock station K-DST, yet Guns N' Roses clearly exists in the game's continuity, since the song "Welcome to the Jungle" plays on modern rock station Radio X. Adding to the humor, Sage, the station's host whom Tommy publicly dislikes, claims to have slept with the entire band before Appetite for Destruction was released.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Jimmy Gestapo, DJ of IV's LCHC (Liberty City Hardcore). Luke (voiced by the man of the same name from 2 Live Crew) on Vice City Stories' Fresh 105 FM is this as well, as is Iggy Pop of IV's Liberty Rock Radio.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Marvin Trill, host of the Area 53 segment of West Coast Talk Radio (WCTR) in San Andreas, a parody of Coast to Coast AM.
- "John Smith" in IV's episodes, a parody of right-wing/libertarian Conspiracy Theorists.
- Contractual Purity: In-Universe -- come San Andreas, Jimmy, the precocious young star of Vice City's Just the Five of Us, has become a drunken mess.
- Deadly Game: Liberty City Survivor, advertised in III. The ad, complemented with fan footage from IV, can be listened to here.
- Arguably the basis for Manhunt.
- Deadpan Snarker: The female station announcer of San Andreas's WCTR seems to be this, particularly in WCTR News intros.
(WCTR News #01): "Next up on WCTR -- the news. We tried to make it interesting and not depressing."
(WCTR News #03): "Next up, we've got the news. This time, some of it's true! Who are we kidding?"
(WCTR News #04): "Next up, it's sensationalist propaganda. I mean, the news."
(WCTR News #06): "Is the world ending? We hope so -- we need the ratings. The news is next!"
- Defictionalization: Lazlow, radio scriptwriter for most GTA games from III onwards, has an actual XM radio show, in large part because of his resurgent popularity stemming from his involvement with the series, including, but not limited to, hosting a radio show in each game. He directly references it in IV, when he uses lines about remembering a time "when 16-year-olds could drink, smoke at bars, listen to heavy metal, and get into high-speed accidents" which was lifted directly from the opening to his show.
- Distracted by the Luxury: San Andreas's DeKoch Diamonds commercial claims that diamonds can "chill that bitch out".
- The Ditz: Amy Sheckenhausen from Vice City's K-Chat fits this trope perfectly, flirting with her famous or attractive guests and, until the end of an interview, being completely oblivious to the fact that one of her guests was promoting bestiality.
- The Dung Ages: The in-game TV documentary "A History of Liberty City" in IV sees this trope applied to the founding of America up to the early 20th century. Though to be fair, Liberty City hadn't progressed that much since then.
- Dumbass DJ: Most of 'em DJs count.
- Fake Band: A staple in early GTA games, it was mostly dropped by the time III came around with all but two music stations (Head Radio and Lips 106) playing licensed music. In Vice City, Hair Metal parody band Love Fist had two original songs -- "Dangerous Bastard" and "Fist Fury" -- on V-Rock (the game's rock station), and Unaesta and Alpha Banditos had three on the Espantoso station, (Yo te mire by "Tres Apenas como eso" and "La vida es la un lenteja" by Unaesta and "The Bull Is Wrong" by Alpha Banditos). Liberty City Stories was the last game in the series to have original music.
- Fictional Video Game: Vice City has commercials on its radio stations for the Degenetron game system, which features such titles as Defender of the Faith ("Destroy the blue dots with your powerful red square!"). In San Andreas, they appear on retro arcade machines. You can't play them, but you can play the "emulator" on the defictionalised Degenatron "fansite."
- III also has ads for Pogo the Monkey, which is later referenced by a Pogo the Monkey arcade in the cab firm from Vice City.
- Frivolous Lawsuit: In San Andreas, there is a news story of a man suing the Renaissance Fair because a replica catapult he purchased didn't have a label warning him not to fire it at his insurance agent's house, accidentally setting the entire neighborhood on fire.
"I don't wanna work very hard so I've hired a lawyer. I'm gonna be rich!"
- Genki Girl: Deconstructed by Jenny, a guest on VCPR in Vice City. She's all happy, upbeat and genki because she was prescribed heavy anti-depressants ever since her family was gruesomely murdered.
- Gratuitous English: Pepe of GTAVC's Radio Espantoso.
- Hanging Judge: Judge Grady, host of the court show parody "Just or Unjust" segment of right-wing radio station We Know the Truth (WKTT) in IV. The show's introduction has him fining a man a million dollars for "wasting the court's time," and he uses duels and gladiatorial combat between plaintiff and defendant as a means of settling disputes.
- Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Tons. The series has featured such people as Funkmaster Flex, Iggy Pop, Juliette Lewis, Daddy Yankee, Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, Luther Campbell (of 2 Live Crew fame), Axl Rose, George Clinton, Chuck D, Wil Wheaton, Sly and Robbie, Mister Cee, DJ Premier (of Gang Starr fame, whose song "B.Y.S." was featured on San Andreas), Ruslana (2004 Eurovision Song Contest winner), Julio G and Andy Dick playing DJs, talk show hosts, guests, and newscasters. There are also cameos by Kevin Mitnick, once the most wanted computer hacker in America (who even made a Shout-Out to his former activity), and Opie and Anthony among others.
- Hipster: Parodied in IV's Indie-Alternative Rock radio station, Radio Broker, complete with host Juliette Lewis letting off some self-aware barbs.
- Hummer Dinger: Parodied with the Maibatsu Monstrosity.
- I Am Not Spock: Vice City's Claude Maginot, a classically-trained actor who is incredibly peeved about how he is best known as the star of the Sitcom Just the Five of Us, which he calls "commercial dross." In an interview on K-Chat, he tries to steer the subject toward his interpretive dance show, In the Future, There Will be Robots, and breaks down into a rant when Amy keeps trying to push the subject toward his show.
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: In San Andreas, Jack Howitzer accidentally shoots interviewer Billy Dexter, first host of WCTR's Entertaining America segment (he was replaced by Lazlow after a long hiatus). It's implied that he was sentenced to death after doing this. The Ballad of Gay Tony reveals that he was eventually paroled.
- In-Game TV: Starting with IV. In past games, there were also ads for various TV shows, although you couldn't watch them.
- Kent Brockman News: Particularly in San Andreas. Also, GTA IV's Weazel News
- The Last DJ: Cousin Ed, host of Vice City Stories' V-Rock. Later on, Lazlow starts to believe himself to be this.
- Latin Lover: Fernando Martinez, who turns out to not really be Latin, "but I provide real Latin love!".
- Medical Drama: Parodied in IV with the ads for Medicate Me.
- Merchandise-Driven: The film Dragonbrain in IV, a parody of the Lord of the Rings movies and especially their copycats.
- Mummies At the Dinner Table: Pet Stuffers... "for when you just can't let go."
- "And coming soon, Grandparents Forever!"
- Naked People Are Funny: One of the guests on Vice City's "Pressing Issues" is Barry Stark, a nudist whom Maurice keeps behind a screen (the other guests on the episode are The Fundamentalist Pastor Richards and soccer mom Jen Brown). When Barry insists on coming out from behind the screen, Richards shoots him in his genitals and Jen faints.
- Network Decay: Seems to be the in-universe case with TBoGT's version of Vladivostok FM, where it loses its Russian influence and becomes a regular dance music station.
- Or it's just a different show on the same station. The game only has enough memory for one playlist per station, and electronic music is fairly popular in Eastern Europe.
- New Media Are Evil: Parodied in a segment of Vice City's 80's-era radio where a mother expresses concern about how her son runs around looking for gold coins to steal.
- Also, according to WCTR News, these new shiny compact-discs are turning your kids into killers!
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Mary-Beth Maybell of San Andreas's Country Music station K-ROSE.
Mary-Beth: "That's the difference. I don't have ex-husbands, I just have a lot of widowers. I own a LOT of black dresses. I LOVE funerals; I get shit-faced every time..."
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The host of Heartland Values with Nurse Bob on LCFR in Liberty City Stories is a pretty clear parody of Dr. Phil.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: The lead actor in Dragonbrain.
"I'm just a humble blacksmith with a Californian accent! How am I supposed to save the world and sell franchise rights to theme parks?"
- Nothing but Hits: In Vice City, San Andreas and Vice City Stories.
- Only Sane Man: VCPR's Maurice Chavez in Vice City and Vice City Stories'. Mostly.
- Lazlow also serves as this in III.
- Parental Incest: Played for laughs with Nurse Bob.
Nurse Bob: "Now, remember what my daddy said: 'Don't you tell nobody about me coming in here at night!'"
- Police Procedural: Parodied in IV with The Science of Crime ("It's forensically boring!"), complete with an obvious Horatio Caine parody dropping bad one-liners and noting how "my acting sucks ass", as well as the The Jimmy Hart Version of the Big Yes in The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again. It has fifteen spinoffs, including ones in Vice City, Las Venturas, Ohio, Djibouti, Fairbanks, Panama City and Santiago.
- Rated "M" for Manly: The TV show The Men's Room in IV, featuring MMA fighter Bas Rutten (as himself) and his metrosexual co-host, Jeremy St. Ives.
- Refuge in Vulgarity: Some of the ads and shows.
- Self-Deprecation: You would think Lazlow would make himself into a Canon Stu, being the producer of the radio shows in the series in Real Life, but even in III, when he had the most virtual air time, the best he could do was snark about his situation. By IV, he has turned his character into a deluded, egotistical Jerkass who believes himself to be The Last DJ, and is genuinely surprised and offended when people call him out on it. Plus, he gave some of his Real Life buddies roles on the shows.
- Sequel Escalation: GTA 1's tiny handful of radio stations had around 3 songs each. By the time IV was out, it had expanded to several hours worth of licensed music, dedicated chat shows, celebrity DJs, adverts, websites and TV channels.
- This also extends to how the radio itself is implemented - while a radio station in previous games was simply one long audio file, San Andreas stored the audio and DJ chatter separately, allowing the game to randomise what you heard. IV takes this even further, with a dynamic radio system that changes shows, adverts, DJ chatter and news depending on the weather, time of day or how far along the storyline you are.
- Serenade Your Lover: Fernando references this.
"Have you noticed how popular synthesizers are getting? It's not the same as a lonely man with a pony tail, singing of his love on a guitar. At the door of a fair maid's hacienda. But it is not far short."
- Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: Jimmy Gestapo, DJ of IV's punk station Liberty City Hardcore, rants at length about the extremely hard-drinking, hard-partying lifestyle that he feels punk should be. Also, Iggy Pop, DJ of IV's classic rock station Liberty Rock Radio, talks about how a lot of the best music was made on drugs, and bemoans the fact that fewer rockers nowadays use them.
- Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith of San Andreas's classic rock station K-DST is fond of this trope as well. Hell, the station's identifications are all narcotic plays on its nickname of "The Dust".
Station ID: "If the police can't stop you... (*police siren and gunshots*) you must be on... The Dust."
Station ID: "When all your drinking friends have gone to rehab, we encourage you to stay on... The Dust."
- Sage of the modern rock station Radio X very much counts as well.
Sage: "I smoke! I smoke cigarettes, I smoke cloves, I smoke anything that can go up in flames! I'm crazy! That was Danzig. Slept with the whole band."
- Show Within a Show: One of the most elaborate ever made, stretching across every game in the series.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Lazlow (the in-series character) has seemingly turned into this come IV.
- Stealth Pun: "Fizz!", the celebrity gossip show from WKTT, the right-wing talk radio station in IV is hosted by Jane Labrador, who mentions field correspondent Susan Retriever by name. 
- Stock Footage: Shots from San Andreas, Bully and Red Dead Redemption are used in the TV shows in IV when they have to represent places outside of Liberty City.
- Strawman News Media: Portrayed as Types 3 and 4.
- Strawman Political: Many times, directed against both sides.
- Peyton (liberal) and Mary (conservative) Phillips, husband-and-wife hosts of the "I Say, You Say" segment of San Andreas's WCTR, are a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of James Carville and Mary Matalin, political consultants for Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush, respectively, who started dating while working on their behalf during the 1992 Presidential elections.
- Pastor Richards and Alex Shrub from Vice City.
- IV gives us Richard Bastion, a jingoistic, mean-spirited conservative talk radio host (any similarities to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are purely coincidental), and Brandon Roberts, a left-wing actor whose progressive activism is strongly implied to be more about improving his public image than anything else (any similarities to George Clooney and Sean Penn are purely coincidental). There's also John Hunter and Michael Graves, two gubernatorial candidates who spend more time attacking each other than explaining their policies, to the point where it's tough to tell who is meant to represent which end of the political spectrum... which makes sense when you think about it.
- In Episodes from Liberty City there's "John Smith", a parody of Alex Jones and right-wing conspiracy theorists in general. He entertains (and often voices) every single crazy conspiracy theory and bit of general paranoia and racism that his listeners phone in with, and only hangs up on an obvious neo-Nazi because he doesn't want to receive another fine. He also interviews Abigail Grayson, a Crazy Survivalist soccer mom with extra emphasis on the "Crazy".
- Ted Baxter: Sage and Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith on their respective radio stations in San Andreas.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Alex Chilton, one of the girlfriends you can pick up in IV's in-game Internet runs a blog. Whenever you take her out on a date, she blogs about what you did afterwards, including your "sexcapades".
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: After Jack Howitzer accidentally shoots Billy Dexter:
Jack: Oh, there's only one thing to do -- I gotta defend freedom! No time to cry, only time to die! <three gunshots> WELCOME TO THE LAND OF FREEDOM, BITCHES!!! YAAAAAAHHHHH!!! <starts firing his gun into the air; the station then goes static>
- Those Wacky Nazis: Implied in the San Andreas commercial for "Herr Gruber's Spa."
Narrator: "After running residential facilities in Germany, Switzerland and then Brazil..."
Herr Gruber: "Haf you not read ze book? Strength good, veakness bad, badbadbad!
- Trash Can Band/Everything Is an Instrument: IV's Banging Trash Can Lids For an Hour.
- Values Resonance: Invoked In-Universe by the "Moorehead Rides Again" radio drama from Vice City Stories' Vice City Public Radio (VCPR), a parody of hard-boiled Private Detectives such as Mike Hammer. While the show was said to have originally aired near the end of World War Two, back when fear of communism creeping into America is slowly giving way to the social nightmare that was McCarthyism, it resonates with American sentiments around forty years later (i.e., 1984, the setting of the game), in light of intensifying tensions between America and the Soviet Union (one that began with the latter's invasion of Afghanistan in 1979), long before Mikhail Gorbachev came in and the USSR dissolved.
Moorehead: Before she was tragically killed, the daughter said her father was unarmed and never wore a gun. You know what that means?
Moorehead: That's right, Molly -- means he's a sissy. I imagine when he hears his daughter is dead he'll cry.
Molly: What kind of a man cries, Gordon?!
Moorehead: I don't know. One that loses wars, I think. Probably the kind of man who raises a $2 tramp for a daughter, Molly. A very sick individual... and probably a communist.
Molly: I don't like to express strong emotions, but I think I hate this fisherman, Gordon!
Moorehead: Don't hate him, Molly -- pity him. And help me kill him.
Molly: Oh, I shall!
- Vapor Wear: Sage, host of San Andreas's Radio X, notes she has freed herself from the tyranny of society by not wearing underwear.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: A between-song banter by Tommy Smith:
"For those of you just coming to consciousness next to an ugly chick in a strange bed with beer cans and underwear across the floor, run the hell out and get to the clinic."
- And one of the promos on Bounce FM.
- What the Fu Are You Doing?: A "Dragon Stance" cannot turn a desk into "two half-desks".
- Who Writes This Crap?: Parodied in Vice City Stories' "Bait and Switch" segment of Vice City Public Radio (VCPR).
Announcer: "Bait and Switch -- Vice City's only radio show devoted to water sports, power boats, water skiing, free flounder fishing and dialectical materialism. Oh, wrong script. Who wrote this shit?!"
Announcer: "Yeah, that's more like it. And tits!"