Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Radio in the Movies #4 - "Talk to Me"

"Talk to Me" is a biopic of Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene (Don Cheadle) a Korean war vet and ex-con who became a prominent DJ on WOL radio in Washington DC. He also hosted his own television show, "Petey Greene's Washington" from 1976 to 1982. The movie begins with him in prison where he works as a jailhouse DJ and later sets up a ploy to talk down a suicidal inmate earning him a reduction in sentence. Program director Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor) hires him at WOL where Petey pushes the envelope by talking openly about racism, sex, drugs, religion and other provocative subjects. Howard Stern was working at DC101 at the time and was influenced by Greene calling him "way ahead of his time." Stern later made an appearance (in blackface!) on his TV show.

"Talk to Me" apparently contains many factual inaccuracies and the "Inspired by a true story" on the movie poster is telling. Disagreements among Petey Greene's family, the movie's producer and other people portrayed in the film makes you wonder if anything but the most basic facts are true. An interesting story about it can be read about it here.

WOL 1450 AM is an Urban Talk station licensed to Washington, DC. They are the flagship station of Radio One, the largest radio broadcasting company that primarily targets African-American listeners.

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