The Radio is an item usually found early in every Silent Hill game. The radio's main function is to alert the protagonist to the presence of monsters by emitting static. While the radios of the various games take different forms and styles, in each game, the protagonist finds one and it remains an indispensable tool in the series. The radios can be turned off, though doing so rarely has any benefit. In some games, monsters can hear the static and become alerted if the protagonist walks too close to them.
Not all monsters are detected by the radio. Mannequins, for example, do not register on the radio until they move. Slurpers have also been known to sneak by the radio. Many of the protagonists complain about the radio being broken upon finding it.
The first appearance of the radio is often heralded by the first monster encounter.
"Portable radio that emits static when monsters are near."
Harry Mason acquires a radio at the Cafe 5to2 diner on a table at the far right of the cafe. Upon close inspection, it appears to be broken and Harry doesn't take it. However, as he is leaving the diner, the radio begins picking up static. When Harry investigates the sound coming from the radio, an Air Screamer crashes into the diner and attacks him. Following this, the player can attain the radio; if attempted to retrieve prior to the Air Screamer attack, Harry will make nothing of it sitting on the table.
Silent Hill 2
"Small portable radio. Emits static when monsters are nearby."
The radio in Silent Hill 2 is found immediately before the first enemy battle. James Sunderland picks up the already-active static spewing radio, which is detecting the presence of a nearby Lying Figure, down at Vachss Road. In the Brookhaven Hospital elevator, the radio picks up a transmission of a fictional game show in which James is called as a contestant. The game show's questions are clues used to unlock a locked chest containing ammunition and healing items.
Silent Hill 3
"It's a small portable radio. It plays static when monsters get close."
In Silent Hill 3, Heather Mason finds her radio dropped through the roof of an elevator at Central Square Shopping Center after a shift to the Otherworld occurs. It is not explained how or why this happens, but it is hinted that Valtiel is the one that gives it to her.
Silent Hill 4: The Room
In Silent Hill 4: The Room, the radio is not portable, but rather a permanent fixture in Room 302. Henry Townshend can't take it with him, and as a result has no warning system against monsters. It does, however, detect the presence of Hauntings in the apartment when turned on. This radio actually works when not spewing static, and Henry can listen to it to keep track of current events out in the "Real World." Usually, the "Real World" events are news casts of victims from Walter Sullivan. There is a report that the killer is pronounced dead, yet victims like Walter's continue to be reported and are attributed to a "copycat". Additionally it can be used to listen to a tape memo.
Silent Hill: The Arcade
In Silent Hill: The Arcade, Eric and Tina pick the radio up along with two handguns at the beginning of the game. Although the radio is present throughout all the game, it makes no noticeable static. Its appearance is based on the one from Silent Hill 3. If the Bad Ending is achieved, Eric finds the radio and Hanna's voice asks, "Why didn't you rescue me?"
Silent Hill: Origins
"A cheap pocket radio. Handy when I'm unloading my rig. Tunes tend to keep the boredom at bay."
In Silent Hill: Origins, Travis Grady has his own portable radio from the very beginning. Whenever a monster appears the screen shows traces of static; once the monster is killed the screen returns to normal.
Silent Hill: Homecoming
In Silent Hill: Homecoming, the radio is actually a walkie-talkie (radio transceiver). It is given to Alex Shepherd by Elle Holloway so that they can keep in touch. Alex uses it to communicate with her and Deputy Wheeler throughout the game.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
In Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, the role of the radio is taken by Harry Mason's phone, which also utilizes photo technology and text messaging. It beeps louder and faster whenever Harry comes close to a Raw Shock or is about to receive a voice mail, digital picture, or text message.
Silent Hill: Downpour
The radio in Silent Hill: Downpour, like the radio in Homecoming, takes the form of a walkie-talkie. Examining it, Murphy Pendleton will say "A two way walkie-talkie." Murphy picks it up near the prison bus at the start of the game. Grabbing it is not mandatory, so other walkie-talkies can periodically be found around town in case the player forgets or does not see it. Rather than just static, the walkie-talkie also seems to release incomprehensible police dispatch conversations.
Additionally, radios transmitting WLMN FM can be found all over the town.
Though there is no pocket radio in P.T., a permanent radio is still present on a shelf in the hallway, in a similar fashion to Silent Hill 4: The Room. At the beginning of the game, it broadcasts a rather gloomy announcement about a series of murders, including a pregnant woman. As the game goes on, and once again similarly to Silent Hill 4, disturbing messages emerge from the radio, asking the player to turn around or forbidding him to change the station.
The radio's announcement of the crime is listed below:
"We regret to report the murder of the wife and her two children by their husband and father. The father purchased the rifle used in the crime at his local gunstore two days earlier. This brutal killing took place while the family was gathered at home on a Sunday afternoon.
The day of the crime, the father went to the trunk of his car, retrieved the rifle, and shot his wife as she was cleaning up the kitchen after lunch. When his ten-year-old son came to investigate the commotion, the father shot him, too. His six-year-old daughter had the good sense to hide in the bathroom, but reports suggest he lured her out by telling her it was just a game. The girl was found shot once in the chest from point-blank range. The mother, who he shot in the stomach, was pregnant at the time.
Police arriving on-scene after neighbors called 911 found the father in his car, listening to the radio. Several days before the murders, neighbors say they heard the father repeating a sequence of numbers in a loud voice. They said it was like he was chanting some strange spell. There was another family shot to death in the same state last month, and in December last year, a man used a rifle and meat cleaver to murder his entire family. In each case, the perpetrators were fathers.
State police say the string of domestic homicides appears unrelated, though it could be part of a larger trend, such as employment, childcare, and other social issues facing the average family."
At one point in the teaser, however, the radio states the following sentence: "After killing his family, the father hung himself with a garden hose they had in the garage". If one listens closely, a muffled voice can be heard saying "umbilical cord" instead of garden hose.
The P.T. radio also has a secret announcement referencing the 1938's War of the Worlds, which is spoken in Swedish. Players who noticed the broadcast managed to translate the message, which mentions :
"Close your eyes. Let your ears listen to the radio. Do you hear my voice? Can you hear your own soul's scream? Let us choose. My voice that tells the future. Or your tortured (inaudible). Well, what do you choose? You can choose. Your life, your future. Wise as you are you might already have discovered it. Yes, the radio drama from 75 years ago was true. They are here on our earth and they monitor and see all. Don't trust anyone. Don't trust the police. They are already controlled by them. That's the way it has been for 75 years now. Only our best will prevail. You have a right. A right to become one of us. So, welcome to our world. Very soon the gates to a new dimension will open. 204863. 204863."
Silent Hill film
In the Silent Hill film, all communications electronics seem to pick up the presence of monsters. Although there isn't an actual radio, Cybil Bennett's walkie-talkie and Rose Da Silva's cellphone serve the purpose. Both pick up static near the beginning due to the presence of the Armless Man. After that, no more static is picked up despite the coming and going of monsters throughout the rest of the movie.
- There is a myth stating that radio static can be used to communicate with dead people. The idea of the radio in Silent Hill detecting monsters by emitting white noise could have been derived from this myth. Also, some paranormal investigators use an instrument that scans radio frequencies to pick up voices of the dead.
- Team Silent wanted the player to embrace the aspect of fear, believing that "what you know is there, but you can't see" is the most effective way to shake the player; thus, the concept of the radio was born.
- In Silent Hill 2, James examines the radio after killing the Lying Figure in Vachs Road. As static emits from it, Mary's voice can be heard reaching out to James.  This supports the relation of the myth about being able to communicate with the dead using radio static. However, this may also be another manifestation of James' subconscious guilt like most of the creatures in the game.