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Radio Heroes on New TV Show “Under the Dome”

DJ Phil on the air on "Under the Dome"

DJ Phil on “Under the Dome”

I’m always thrilled to see depictions of radio DJs in popular culture and have a soft spot for horror movie story lines involving DJs in peril.

It was a happy surprise to me to spot heroic radio station personnel on the new Steven King-penned TV series “Under the Dome.”

So far, two episodes have aired, with the third episode debuting tonight on CBS. In the horror/disaster movie vein, “Under the Dome” tells the story of a town that suddenly becomes trapped under a clear dome. Luckily for the town folk, a radio station within the confines of the dome is able to communicate to citizens about the disaster.

SPOILER ALERT Warning–this post contains details from the first two episodes, so stop reading now if you don’t want to know specific plot details.

We first see independent rock radio station WYBS fifteen minutes in to the pilot episode. Following the dome’s crash on top of the town, on-air DJ Phil Bushey is shown talking on microphone saying, “Sorry for the radio silence folks, generator’s cooking and we’re up and running again.” After his microphone break, the station’s engineer Dodee Weaver comes in to the on-air studio and says, “We’re the only thing on air right now. AM, FM, anywhere… why is the whole dial still static?” Phil replies, “I don’t know, but our ratings are going to be amazing.”


Engineer Dodee listens in to communication from outside the dome

A short while later, Councilman “Big Jim” Rennie barges into the station and orders the radio station staffers to let him on the air for an emergency broadcast so that he can warn citizens to stop their vehicles immediately (so as to avoid crashing into the dome).

Although the radio station DJ and engineer still don’t know the specific details about what’s happened to the town, Dodee messes with some station equipment in order to listen in on snippets of nearby cellular and radio communication in order to piece together the source of the disaster. When the DJ says, “it sounds alien,” Dodee replies, “it sounds like Bjork.” I was charmed by her indie cred when I heard her say, “Regular receivers can’t pull a signal through whatever…has cut us off, but I once used our broadcast tower like a giant antenna to pull feedback loops for my band’s cover album…”

Although Dodee and DJ Phil overhear officials talking about a dome, they decide to only refer to it as an “invisible wall” over the air so as not to freak out listeners. When the editor of the town paper, Julia Shumway, stops by the station and finds out, she asks, “Why haven’t you told anybody?” Dodee replies, “We’re not a news station.” The journalist then forces her way on the air to alert the town about the presence of the dome. After her update, DJ Phil improvises a new station logo (and format) by saying, “WYBS, your only source for news from under the dome.”

It’s apparent from the first two episodes that the radio station will play a major role in the series, especially since tech savvy Dodee may be the only person able to listen in on outside communications.

I’m looking forward to watching future episodes, especially if there are more fun tidbits for radio insiders (like Dodee’s quip to Phil that engineers are smarter than DJs.)

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