Starfield needs to do justice to this beloved Fallout feature

Starfield character creator, close up of face
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Traversing the yawning wasteland of Bethesda’s Fallout series is no easy feat. Raiders, Supermutants and radiation clouds await any wanderer seeking to brave the post-apocalyptic hellscape. Even with a companion, the long trips can feel pretty lonely. 

Fortunately, a solution is at hand. Your Pip-Boy, as well as being a wrist-mounted personal computer, can pick up radio signals, allowing me to tune into whatever broadcasts might be out there in the wastes. My trek across the Capital Wasteland in Fallout 3 would have been far emptier without the encouraging voice of Galaxy News Radio’s eccentric Three Dog keeping me company. 

From his secure location in the Chevy Chase district, Three Dog spins records and keeps the locals updated on all the news in post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C. The smooth, anachronistic tones of Ella Fitzgerald and The Ink Spots add an undeniable sense of archaic class to his show.

Fallout 4 also has its own major radio station, the Diamond City Ratio. Unfortunately, the deliberately anti-charismatic Travis Miles replaces the dulcet howls of Three Dog. Though his lack of confidence makes for some good cringe comedy, it definitely feels like a step down. Still, both stations do a wonderful job of giving you a constant companion during your adventures through the wasteland. 

Talking heads 

Fallout 4 cheats - the main character views the wastes

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

However, at their best, Fallout’s radio stations are so much more than merely a source of easy companionship; rather they become microcosms for the overarching political conflicts in their respective games. Throughout Fallout 3, Galaxy News Radio has a straight-laced competitor in the form of Enclave Radio. While Three Dog blasts raucous jazz and prides himself on “telling you the truth, no matter how bad it hurts”, Enclave Radio plays military marches and features regular broadcasts from President John Henry Eden. 

Eden is as square and authoritarian as Three Dog is wild and irreverent. Eden’s choreographed snippets of americana contrast starkly with Three Dog’s heavily improvised broadcasts. Fallout 3 uses this contrast to underscore the moral dilemmas and tricky decisions that the player will have to confront during their journey through the wasteland. Are the benefits of President Eden’s Enclave worth the extreme cost of authoritarian rule? Is it better to turn back the clock and attempt to resurrect an America-that-was, or should you focus on forging a new path? By echoing these questions through the in-game radio, Fallout 3 uses literal background noise to accentuate the problems of its foreground.  

Fallout’s radio stations are so much more than merely a source of easy companionship

Fallout 4 uses a similar technique. The awkward, stammering observations of Diamond City Radio’s Travis Miles veer between the amusing and the irritating. However, throughout my playthroughs, I’ve always found his shy and uncertain style to be reflective of post-apocalyptic Boston’s precarious situation. 

The Commonwealth, as it is known to the initiated, is beset on all sides by rival factions looking to push their agenda for the future. The Institute seek to build an elitist, technocracy on the backs of slave labour, while the Brotherhood of Steel’s legions of power-armored knights seek to enforce their own brand of off-color religious dogma. No wonder Travis is feeling a little nervous.  

 I don’t want to set the world on fire 

Fallout 4 Vault Dweler looks at dogmeat

(Image credit: Bethesda)

However, Fallout 4’s Diamond City Radio and Fallout 3’s Galaxy News Radio are more than just passive sources of chatter. Fallout’s radio stations provide you with a great deal more than just exposition. Both DJs are an active part of the world and you, the player, can interact with them, using the reach of their broadcasts to leave your mark on the game world. 

On a surface level, Fallout’s radio stations will report on your actions across the wasteland, commenting on your decisions and giving some extra morsels of story as you might expect. Beyond that, however, many of the radio stations can be interacted with more directly. 

Destroy the Enclave base, and Enclave Radio will be replaced by eerie static

In Fallout 3, you can choose to help Three Dog fix his radio transmitter, allowing Galaxy News Radio to broadcast all across the wasteland. Alternatively, if you destroy the Enclave base, Enclave Radio will be replaced by nothing more than eerie static. This trend continued in Fallout 4 where, upon meeting Travis, you can help him find his confidence, which, in turn, causes his broadcasts to transform, as the anxious DJ learns to be suave and charismatic  

Fallout 4 vault door

(Image credit: Bethesda)

What this all means is that Fallout’s radio stations don’t just report on your actions, but also change as a direct result of your interactions with them. Your relationship with the stations isn’t one-sided and at its best, becomes more like a dialogue.

Fallout 5 won’t be coming out any time soon, but, revisiting the colorful radio stations from earlier Fallout titles made me realize that Bethesda has a potential ace up its sleeve when it comes to storytelling. Fallout’s radio stations are examples of immersive storytelling at its finest, and I’d love to see Bethesda continue to make use of them in future Fallout games.

Perhaps Bethesda will bring some of that Fallout radio magic to their latest project

Heck, since Starfield takes place in a technologically advanced setting, perhaps Bethesda will bring some of that Fallout radio magic to their latest project. However, even if Starfield’s worlds are bereft of radio signals, nothing will stop me from blasting some Galaxy News Radio classics over my speakers as I make my way through space.   

Cat Bussell
Staff Writer

Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on,, and, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent.