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Large Ham Radio

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"Helloooooooooo Capital Wasteland, this is Three Dog, *AUUOOOOO* comin' to ya loud and proud from Galaxy News Radio! Bringin' you the truth, no matter how bad it hurts."
Three Dog DJ of GNR, Fallout 3

Radio, especially the college variety, will always attract a certain type of DJ/Announcer, namely a Large Ham. At least in fiction.

Anyone put in front of a radio mic, even if he's never seen one before, will instantly switch into a confident DJ-persona, complete with nickname, catchphrases and a smooth baritone voice. Otherwise, they might become an abrasive Dumbass DJ or Shock Jock. Whatever style he chooses, there won't be a second's hesitation, confusion, Dead Air or any other problems you might expect of a Naïve Newcomer.

If it's ham radio they're getting into, it's very likely they'll also immediately turn into a Soapbox Sadie Conspiracy Theorist convinced that the government wants to shut them down.

Another common variant, more popular in the United Kingdom, is the Tony Blackburn-esque (probably better known to younger generations as Smashie and Nicey-esque) cheesy 1970s pop DJ.

Not to be confused with Radio Voice. Closely related to Danger Deadpan, a similar effect caused by speaking over an aeroplane intercom. Compare Large-Ham Announcer. Contrast with Boring Broadcaster.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • Jack Scott in the stage version of High School Musical.
  • Lee Jordan of Harry Potter, who regularly loses control of his temper when commentating at Quidditch, becomes incredibly smooth when it comes time to be the Voice of the Resistance.
  • Pump Up the Volume
  • Vince Fontaine in Grease is an expy of the Dick Clark archetype; a radio DJ fronting a Bandstand-type programme. Nearest UK analogue would be Tony Blackburn or other Radio 1 DJs, who fronted Top of the Pops.
    • It may be a case of "Too soon, aye?" (Bluestone 42) - but if Fontaine did try dropping aspiring in Marty's drink at the Nat Bandstand OB - cue Operation Yewtree in the Grease universe?
  • The Lightning Bug in J-Men Forever, played by actual DJ 'Machine Gun' Kelly. He has a number of underlings trained in his technique, as part of his Evil Plan to conquer the Earth with Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll.
    "Take them away, and teach them to talk like me: reeallll sexy!"
  • Inverted in Reservoir Dogs. The DJ for K-Billy's Super Sounds of the 70's (played by Steven Wright) delivers every line in an extremely deadpan, straight up boring voice, even as the lines he's reading sound like they were made to be delivered by someone playing this trope straight.

  • Rose, aka Mother, the communications officer of Phule's Company. In person, she's so cripplingly shy that hardly anyone has ever managed to speak to her face-to-face, but over radio equipment she becomes talkative and even flirtatious. Apparently she had a stutter as a child and became afraid of the sound of her own voice, but later discovered that she didn't mind so much when she was speaking into sound equipment.
  • Lee Jordan, the definitely-not-neutral Quidditch announcer from Harry Potter. Continues into his role as host of Potterwatch in Deathly Hallows.

     Live-Action TV  
  • "Dr X," Ted's old College Radio alter ego on How I Met Your Mother. He's universally mocked for it.
  • Hal on Malcolm in the Middle does this when he buys a ham radio.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun had (usually mild-mannered Cloud Cuckoolander) Harry turn into an abrasive talk-radio jock when he and Tommy take over the college station for the holidays.
  • In M*A*S*H, the outfit obtains a mess of swing records. Radar (the normally timid type) takes the records and creates a makeshift radio station over the P.A. system, with him as DJ. That is, until Colonel Potter makes him play "Sentimental Journey" over and over and...
  • Sam spent one episode of Quantum Leap ("Good Morning, Peoria") as a DJ.
  • Leo LaPorte demonstrated his "AM voice" (Large Ham Radio) and "FM voice" (Smooth and sultry) on an episode of The Screen Savers.
  • The first episode of WKRP in Cincinnati showed this happening twice in the first episode: Johnny's spontaneous transformation from a fairly bland top 40 DJ into "Doctor Johnny Fever, and I am burnin' up in here, fellow babies!" followed by Andy remaking Gordon Sims into "Venus Rising", which he partially forgot when he announced the new DJ to Carlson as "Venus Flytrap." Averted with Les Nessman, who pretty clearly would like to be this ("And now ... Les Nessman's Death Watch"), but just doesn't quite have the voice to pull it off.
  • Normally anxious, shy Burton "Gus" Guster in Psych becomes this when the agency investigates a murder at a radio station. Gus becomes "A Playa' Named Gus," and his radio persona is so smooth, the station manager starts hitting on him.
  • DJ Sagara in Kamen Rider Gaim takes this as his stage persona and mixes it with extreme close-ups for his net radio show. When we finally see him off the clock he's considerably more subdued.
  • The FBI hostage negotiation series Standoff gives us Avery Steele, who fights for the common man. The episode he appears in revolves around a man cheated out of an adoption, and promos suggested he was all, "Rape the bitch you kidnapped then kill yourself like a man." True to the style he portrays the kidnapper as a victim, to the point of calling in listeners of his show to the crime scene and nearly instigating a riot by saying he should be set free.
  • Inverted in Frasier — the titular professional radio shrink is shown to have really struggled to get the hang of live broadcast when he first started, and his occasional efforts to branch out into other markets, or cover for colleagues doing different genres of show, are always beset by fumbling and gaffes that suggest he isn't really a natural radio performer. By contrast, when his brother covers for him, Niles quickly finds a confident radio persona and his own catchphrase.
    • In the final episode Roz forces the station manager to cover when Frasier is late for work. Kenny protests that he hasn't hosted anything since college and doesn't know what to do. The second the On Air light goes on he launches into a perfect hammy radio voice complete with joke characters.
  • Forever Knight. Vampire Lucien LaCroix hosts a late night radio station as The Nightcrawler. He goes more for Creepy Monotone than Large Ham, but breaks out the latter after taking over the Raven and hosting an amateur strip contest there.
    LaCroix: Let us peel back the layers, let us strip away the last vestiges of decorum and civility, and reveal our inner selves. Oui, mes amis, it's Amateur Night at the Raven, and tonight our amateurs will reveal their inner selves by GETTING NAKED!

  • Peter Gabriel hams it up in in the song "On The Air". "Bozo is here!"
  • The David Bowie song "DJ" from Lodger.
    "I am a DJ, I am what I play/I've got believers believing me!"
  • My Chemical Romance's Danger Days has one of these providing narration.
  • Harry Chapin's bittersweet ballad "WOLD", in which a middle-aged crisis plays itself out.
    ''I am the morning DJ
    on W-O-L-D;
    Feeling all of forty-five,
    Going on fifteen...''
  • The Blue Öyster Cult's ironic song about a dreamer whose ambition outstrips his talent, The Marshall Plan, has a spoken interlude from veteran DJ and music presenter Don Kirshner.
    • Their song When The War Comes was co-written by controversial New York DJ Howard Stern.
  • One of the earliest musical examples: Chantilly Lace by The Big Bopper "HELLOOOO BAY-BEE!!!!!"
  • Edwin Starr's HAPPY Radio -

     Puppet Shows 

  • The Space Gypsy Adventures episode Leah's Wedding sees a brief appearance by one of these, 'Terrific Terrence', when Gemma requests a record for Leah and Randy. Described as being 'the kind of DJ who spouts a lot of verbal nonsense between records', one of his more notable examples of such nonsense is this little gem:
    If I was getting married, I wouldn't request a record-I'd request a blindfold and a cigarette!
  • And of course, a man who could well be the Trope Namer, Tony Blackburn.

     Video Games  
  • Three Dognote  of Galaxy News Radio from Fallout 3 is the very definition of this trope.
    • Galaxy News Radio's competition, Enclave Radio, features "President" John Henry Eden, who has a delivery more reminiscent of Casey Kasem than Three Dog's Wolfman Jack. Three Dog occasionally parodies either his style or his megalomania ("Oh wait, that's the other station.")
    • Fallout 3 also features an aversion: if Three Dog is killed, his replacement, Margaret, drops the news segments and prefaces the music with annoyed comments about just being a technician and the actual DJ having been killed. Apparently, just being put in front of a microphone is not sufficient for this trope to kick in in the Fallout universe.
    • And Best Friend Tabitha from Fallout: New Vegas takes it one step even farther.note 
    • Mr. New Vegas (Wayne Newton) is an inversion, speaking in a calm, friendly tone more appropriate to a DJ for a station that plays music from the 40s and 50s.
    • Travis from Fallout 4 is a deliberate inversion, coming across as shy and awkward, if not cringeworthy. The player can boost his confidence through an optional sidequest.
    • The Fallout 4 DLC Nuka-World gives us RedEye, the DJ for Nuka-World's "Raider Radio". While not as loud and hammy as Three Dog, RedEye is still quite over-the-top, often exaggerating stories to tall tales.
  • DJ Professor K from Jet Set Radio is ridiculously loud and bombastic, he also acts as your mission control. In the sequel JSR Future he tones it down a bit but still counts.
  • Bobby Ricks in Silent Hill: Downpour.
  • Radioman from Spec Ops: The Line, combined with a generous helping of The Sociopath. Formerly a war correspondent trying to shed light on all the war crimes going on in Dubai, Colonel Konrad somehow convinced him to become the 33rd's eye in the sky.
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has Super Rockin' Mister Magic, the DJ of the pirate radio station. "You can't find us, you can't stop us!"
    • It would probably be easier to list the DJ's in GTA Radio that aren't this trope.

     Web Original  
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "Radio", Strong Bad claims that radio announcers should look absolutely nothing like how they sound, and demonstrates by forcing his brother Strong Sad, who usually speaks in a whispery drone, to talk like a rapid-fire shock jock.
    Strong Sad: Hey hey hey! It's the Deathly Pallor, coming at you on Numbity 902, WA3D FM, "The Sturge"! Coming up next, we got some hot new tracks from double-O ballyhoo! [covers his mouth in embarrassment while Strong Bad laughs evilly]
  • In The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air), Julian the Janitor's vocal delivery is halting, meek and muted even in the presence of a microphone, while his personal Interactive Narrator, a manifestation of his desire to perform on the radio, is as smooth, polished and floridly emotive as Julian wishes he could be.
  • When It Makes A Sound's Deirdre Gardner gets going, she positively evangelizes her favorite musician Wim Faros in the most ecstatic terms, as though she were the preacher in a church, rather than the superfan host of an amateurish local radio show.
  • Horror Host Wolf the Dog in Pretending to Be People is a canine-themed Large Ham in the vein of Three Dog and Wolfman Jack. He's also a dumpster-dining Physical God.

     Western Animation  
  • Homer Simpson, as a ham radio operator.
  • Timmy used magic to do this on an ep of The Fairly Oddparents. He had a magic mic that made anyone who spoke into it have a smooth baritone voice.
  • Parodied in Phineas and Ferb, Isabella is given the chance to announce P&Fs Monster Truck Rally and does so in a deeper, louder, male voice with standard huckster dialog. In one deep breath.
  • Double subverted with Family Guy: One episode had Brian end up with a radio show after criticizing the local Dumbass DJs. His show started off intelligent, NPR-ish, and performing poorly with listeners. After Stewie prank calls him a couple of times, the executives force Brian to add him to the show, at which point it devolves into exactly the kind of thing he was complaining about earlier, complete with Howard Stern-esque antics and annoying sound clips from films including Sixteen Candles, Animal House, and the Crosses the Line Twice example of Philadelphia.
  • Sealab 2021, "Radio Free Sealab": Captain Murphy starts a pirate radio station out of sheer boredom, adopts the DJ persona "Howlin' Mad Murphy", and conducts the usual on-air hijinx until the FCC blows him (and the rest of the station)up with a depth charge.
    Marco: That's THE HAMMER! Once again your stupidity has killed us all!
  • In the Hey Arnold! Halloween special, this is apparently the case with the local radio station's DJ. Only when he's in front of the mic does he produce the deep voice required for his job.
  • Garfield and Friends had a recurring theme of Garfield hating disc jockeys. Then in one episode John got a job as one, cheesy '70s persona and all...

     Real Life  
  • In more general terms, the first wave of the aptly-named Loudness War is a phenomenon among (chiefly commercial American) radio stations. Beginning in the 1980s, the audio levels of radio music, advertising and many spoken announcements began to be artificially inflated via compression (similarly to the other Loudness War, which centers on popular music), causing the broadcasts to become louder (and thus more attention-grabbing) on average without surpassing the (legally mandated) maximum decibel count. This has become so ubiquitous that concerns have been raised about sustaining permanent hearing damage upon prolongued exposure. This trend is mostly limited to commercial radio stations in North America, meaning that (for example) public or European stations sound noticeably softer and more natural in their audio range by comparison.
  • Big radio personalities in general need to be self-promoters. Radio shows don't get the same kind of marketing push that TV shows and movies get, so successful radio hosts tend to be very comfortable with blowing their own horn.
  • Gary Owens is the "announcer" voice for which everyone strives these days (unless he's trying to copy the In a World… guy).
  • Don Pardo. "Live, from New York!" The booming voice you're hearing in your head right now, saying "It's Saturday Night!" is Don Pardo.
  • Wolfman Jack, as shown in American Graffiti.
  • Casey Kasem.
    • His American Top 40 replacement Shadoe Stevens too, but Stevens had a more self-aware, tongue-in-cheek sensibility.
  • Inverted by NPR, which has the exact opposite reputation of its hosts being very soft-spoken. As Family Guy put it:
    "This is NPR, the station where we talk very softly, directly into the microphone. Can you hear us? We're right inside your head..."
    • Robert Siegel is probably NPR's hammiest host. He's not boisterous or loud, but he has a tendency to take the appropriate tone of a story and turn it up several notches.
    • Jonathan Schwartz talks in such a slow, idiosyncratic manner on his music show that he qualifies as a Cold Ham.
  • Until fairly recently, many depictions of Top 40 radio DJs were parodies of 1960s rock radio-era stations such as WLS/Chicago, KHJ/Los Angeles and WABC/New York City.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hammy Radio


DJ Professor K

The eponymous radio station is hosted by this bombastic guy.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / LargeHamRadio

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