There’s a lot to take in with any Grand Theft Auto game, and one of the greatest joys in playing the series is finding a radio station that really clicks with you. Typically, I gravitate to the hip-hop station when I first play, but as I start getting into random cars I’ll find that my carjacking victims were jamming to something that I didn’t think I would like. There aren’t any “bad” radio stations in GTA games as far as I remember, but I definitely grow to like some more than others.
With all of that random information about the way that I listen to music in GTA, here are what I think are the five best radio stations throughout the series’s history. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments.
Grand Theft Auto III – Chatterbox FM
Grand Theft Auto III was the first GTA game with proper radio stations — including DJs, commercials, and the like — but each station lacked variety for their particular genres. Growing tired of hearing the same few songs on each station, I finally moved onto Chatterbox FM.
Each caller is downright delirious: one claimed to be a Colonel in the Australian-American War, while another claimed that killer bees were rallying to take over. Another still headed up a group called Citizens Raging Against Phones (C.R.A.P.), completely oblivious to the tool she used to contact the radio station to begin with.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – V-Rock
While I’m probably a bigger fan of hip-hop, I credit Vice City for planting the seed for my love of ‘80s butt rock and thrash metal. Fifteen-year-old, hip-hop-lovin’ had no idea that he could ever get into Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden, and Slayer all at once, but there he was, headbanging all the way to the ice cream truck that I sold drugs out of.
Better yet, Rockstar created a band called Love Fist as characters for the game, and they have a couple of tracks on the station, too. And to tie things up in a neat little bow, Lazlow, host of Chatterbox FM in GTA III, was the DJ for V-Rock. Great stuff all around.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – Radio Los Santos
Radio Los Santos returned to be a part of GTA V, where it plays modern rap from all over the country. I liked it best in San Andreas, though, where it was the home of golden age West Coast gangsta rap and G-Funk.
Having grown up with a brother that listened to N.W.A. — and then Dr. Dre and Ice Cube when they went solo — I rarely thought to listen to any other station. There were some great deep cuts, too, such as Too $hort’s The Ghetto (one of the few songs in which he doesn’t mention his penis) and Deep Cover, which is the first song Snoop Doggy Dogg ever recorded.
Playback FM was the East Coast station balancing things out, and that featured some iconic hip-hop as well, but my heart belongs to the Best Coast.