Biffs Car Radio

Young Biff twiddles the radio tuning dial in his car.

Radios were a common technology by 1955. Even with the recent advent of television, radios remained a staple of entertainment and information well into the 21st century.

Types of radios varied over the years, from a large cabinet type found in Doc's garage and the "world's smallest radio" (by 1955 standards) sold at Roy's Records, to the small combination radio and clock in Marty McFly's bedroom.

In 1955, Biff Tannen's Ford Super De Luxe Convertible had a radio that he tuned to KKHV for music and sports.

Old Biff from 2015 tuned to the UCLA vs. Washington game to prove to his younger self the validity of the Grays Sports Almanac.

In Douglas J. Needles' Ford F-150 4X4 in 1985, "The Power of Love" played on the radio.

Marty listened to the radio in the DeLorean time machine when first entering 1955.[1]

On of the exhibits of the 1931 Hill Valley Science Exposition was a picture radio (which can be likened to a television set).

Behind the scenes[]

Radios feature prominently in both 1955 and 1985 in the film trilogy.

  • The very first words heard in Back to the Future are "October is inventory time...", a radio commercial for Statler Toyota.
  • While Marty is sleeping with the radio on, the Lindsey Buckingham song "Time Bomb Town" is playing.
  • In the novelization (but not in the film), Marty listens to the news from 1955 on the DeLorean's radio, and hears about President Eisenhower, the first L.A. Smog Conference, and UCLA kicker Jim Decker (who is mentioned in the second film).
  • Marty sees a sign in 1955 in the window of Roy's Records, advertising "The World's Smallest Radio", which was accompanied by a window display for the aforementioned product.
  • Doc listens to the (inaccurate) weather forecast on his car radio at 7:50 on November 12, about two hours before the storm reaches Hill Valley.
  • Marty and Lorraine are listening to the radio in Doc's Packard while on their first date, and the song Johnny Ace song "Pledging My Love" is on.
  • Red the Bum is sleeping on a bench, and the radio resting on him is playing the Eric Clapton song "Heaven is One Step Away" as Marty arrives back in 1985 from 1955.
  • As his clock radio goes off in 1985, Marty wakes up at 10:28 to the Huey Lewis song "Back in Time".
  • During the brief few hours that they are in 2015, as seen in Back to the Future Part II, Marty and Jennifer do not encounter a radio, although televisions seem to be everywhere. (In the novelization for Part II, Doc is communicating with an air traffic controller at the Hill Valley Airport, after venturing illegally into commercial airspace.) It isn't clear whether radio has ceased as a form of entertainment and news, or whether it would have been observed during a longer stay; radio is not heard during Marty and Doc's stay in 1985A either.
  • Old Biff and young Biff tune into his car radio for the latest sports scores in 1955.
  • In Back to the Future Part III, the radio in Needles' truck can be heard after Marty returns to 1985. However, even in the year 1885, radio transmission is taking place. The only radio signals being transmitted anywhere on Earth are between Marty and Doc on Doc's walkie talkies, which Marty had brought to 1885 from 1955.