James Robert ‘Radio’ Kennedy

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James Robert ‘Radio’ Kennedy is a 65-year-old handicapped man from Anderson, South Carolina, where the story of his involvement with T.L. Hanna High School takes place. This story was captured by the 2003 movie, “Radio”. The filmmakers condensed four decades of Radio’s story into one year from 1976 to 1977 in order to, what director Michael Tollin states, “show the convergence of events that led to Radio becoming an integral part of society in this small town”. What Tollin didn’t want to make was a biography. What he did want was to vaguely capture Radio’s story in order to give the film a “timeless quality” which would allow him to “focus more on the development of the relationship between the two central characters and their unity through their humanity”.

Of course, the film “Radio” wouldn’t have been such a success without some Hollywood spin. The filmmakers, with the mindset of making a successful film, not a biography, added dramatization of the important events that occurred during Radio’s involvement with T.L. Hanna. For example, in the film, it was Coach Jones that specifically gives Radio his nickname, while in real life there is no specific person who gave him his nickname. However, the reason for his nickname is completely accurate. James (Radio), since he was a little boy, had a fascination with radios. He would carry around a transistor radio with him everywhere he went and had a tremendous fascination with music. Because of this, Jones buys him a new radio every Christmas. Like in the film, he delivers Radio’s many Christmas and birthday presents to him using the bed of his pickup truck.

Another inaccuracy in the film occurs when some of the boys on the football team tied Radio up and locked him in a small storage room next to the field while tossing footballs at the room to create loud noises and scare Radio. According to the original Sports Illustrated article on James Kennedy, this most likely did not happen. There are, however, other pranks...
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