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About The Story
The characters of Radio and Coach Jones first meet at the heart of Anderson, South Carolina – the high school football field. "Football gives a town a certain identity," observes Harris, "especially if you have a good team and a winning tradition. So there's a lot of pride involved. In Anderson, they turn out big time for high school football."

But Radio doesn't focus on the sport as much as on the title character, a man of childlike purity who brought joy to this sports-minded community, according to Gooding. "I have two boys, six and eight. And whenever they do anything and get into trouble, their reactions are so innocent and so genuine. That is the quality that Radio has. Whenever he encounters an obstacle, he never has any animosity. He doesn't hold a grudge. He's all about unconditional love."

Tollin could have fashioned a dramatic feature around how Radio grows as a result of his relationship with Coach Jones, he says. "But the core of the story is more complex than that," he argues. "In the end, Coach Jones learns just as much about life from Radio. It's really a story of two characters who inspire one another, two men who grow as a result of their relationship."

Meeting Radio is the beginning of a journey for Coach Jones, who learns that there is more to life than the Friday night game. "Here's a man who just loves being the head football coach of a big high school," according to Harris. "It's pretty much all he lives for. Emotionally, however, he's withdrawn. His wife, Linda (Debra Winger), tries to get through to him, to tell him he's missing out. But her words seem to fall on deaf ears. Then this man Radio appears and just melts his heart. Radio opens up something inside of Coach Jones that has long remained dormant."

The relationship between the two men evolves slowly and, initially, has its setbacks, Tollin relates. "At first Radio is mistrustful, because his interaction with society has mostly consisted of being ridiculed or ignored. So he's retreated from life, rather than endure any more hurt."

The only person Radio completely trusts is his mother, Maggie (S. Epatha Merkerson), who is also skeptical of Coach Jones' intentions. "Maggie is a very strong willed, loving woman," Tollin continues. "And she really wants to know, ‘Who is this guy and what's his interest in my son?'"

Coach Jones also meets with some initial resistance from Principal Daniels (Alfre Woodard), who expresses concern that Radio is being used as a glorified mascot. She also worries about the impact of Radio's presence on the student body, their parents and the faculty, according to Tollin. "I think her heart is always in the right place. But because of her responsibility as a principal, she has to take a step back and be pragmatic. It was important to have a positive character who also has doubts about whether Radio will fit into the larger society. She represents the quiet voice in all of us who would like to do right by others but isn't always sure how to achieve it."

There are other barriers in the evolution of the friendship between Radio and Coach Jones. Criticism of Radio's presence begins to permeate the traditional post-game "press conferences" at Del and Don's barbershop. The most negative voice is that of Frank Helton (Chris Mulkey). The purpose of these sessions, according to Mulkey, is<

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