Much like K-Chat, Pressing Issues features "live" interviews; unlike the celebrity interviews on K-Chat, however, it focuses on exactly that—particular issues are chosen, and Maurice Chavez mediates an informal debate between selected guests. Three such issues are broadcast within GTA Vice City, and one in GTA Vice City Stories.
According to Chavez, Pressing Issues began airing at some either either during or prior to 1981.
GTA Vice City
The first segment deals with issues of general morality. The three guests for this debate are firebrand Pastor Richards (David Green); married activist, mother and wife Jan Brown (Maureen Silliman); and naturist Barry Stark (Renaud Sebbane). Pastor Richards is a corrupt and wholly insane televangelist, who promises salvation (in the form of a radiation-proof giant living space/effigy of Richards) to all those who pay him very large donations (he later reveals that he was actually planning on using the money to build himself a palace mansion in Hawaii). Jan Brown is an overstressed, overattentive mother who is cheated on (constantly) by her husband, though she vehemently denies it on one segment of the debate. She is also the leader of Moms Against Popular Culture. Barry Stark is a naturist (i.e., stark naked) and a compulsive liar, with sexuality issues (he gets erections several times during the debate). Barry Stark also appeared as a caller on Chatterbox FM in Grand Theft Auto III, where he makes similar comments about nudity.
During the interview, Pastor Richards complains that "[American] newspapers are owned by Canadians with an agenda". This could be a reference to the mockumentary "The Canadian Conspiracy", which details how the Canadian government is subverting the United States by taking over its media, and came out in 1985, one year before the setting of the game.
There is a perception among some gamers that Pastor Richards is a caricature either of former televangelist Jim Backer or Pat Robertson. Rockstar Games has set up a toll-free telephone line that, when called, plays a recording of Pastor Richards discussing his "Salvation Statue." This plays off much of the leftover paranoia over the then-USSR. "You look out the window, and there are Russian paratroopers coming in to take over" as he told the listeners on the radio show (this line, and the lines that follow immediately, are a direct reference to the '80s Russian-invasion movie Red Dawn). His "Salvation Statue" is, as he puts it, a 50-story statue of himself complete with living quarters. If there are any disasters such as "nuclear holocausts, plagues of flying rodents," as he mentions, those who pay him can take refuge in his statue, which could deflect, according to Richards, alpha, gamma and beta radiation. In addition, the blueprint for the statue was drawn up to include booster rockets. This is in case, as he says "the poopie hits the proverbial fan, [they] can load up those who saved themselves through generous donations, blast into space, and colonize Saturn, with a race of morally correct, affluent people, ruled by me." Toward the end of the show, Richards reveals that he did, "use money from the statue to make my own palace in Hawaii", another reference to dishonest televangelists who trick people out of their money.
Also, Chavez mentions "rock groups joining together to provide famine aid to Alaska with the song 'Do They Know It's The Fourth of July?'". This is a reference to the famous Live Aid series of concerts and Band Aid's hit single, "Do They Know It's Christmas?".
By the end of this segment, Pastor Richards snaps, and, disgusted by Stark's nudism, pulls a gun on Stark and shoots him in the genitals, while Brown passes out. Barry survives and "is in need of a proctologist" (a doctor dealing with disorders of the anal area). Pastor Richards also ends up claiming the station as his own for a short while. The show then cuts away to Jonathan and Michelle.
Perception and positive thinking
The second issue is that of perception and attitude. The three guests for this debate are exaggerated gothic artist Konstantinos Smith (voice artist credited as Konstantinos.com); positive thinker, motivational speaker and shyster Jeremy Robard (Peter Silvestro), who claims that his three-step program called "Think Your Way To Success" has changed people's lives and made him very rich; and Jenny Louise Crab (Mary Birdsong), a woman mentally scarred by the murder of her foster parents, but seemingly addicted to high-strength mood elevators in an effort to block the memory (as such, she is insanely hyperactive and scarily cheerful).
Konstantinos is a parody of a stereotyped goth. He tells Maurice things like, "The world is a lie, man. Only darkness is truth." He mentions that he had never been out in open sunlight in upwards of 18 years. Maurice calls him a "manically depressed loonie with anaemia." (However, Konstantinos comes across at times as the most practical and stable person on the show)
During the show, Robard persistently tries to sell his motivational tape series. This series is advertised elsewhere on Vice City radio, and it's worth noting that the initials for each program spells out the name of a popular illegal drug: "Motivate, Demonstrate, then Motivate Again" spells out "MDMA", the scientific abbreviation for Ecstasy; "Learn, Start, Doing" spells out "LSD", the abbreviation for lysergic acid diethylamide; "Think, Hold that thought, Complete" spells out "THC" the abbreviation for Tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary chemical in marijuana. Later in his dialogue he mentions, "And if you want to think really fast, try my crank-it-out program" (Crank is slang for Methamphetamine). Another notable reference to drugs is when he tells Crab, "[Crab], I can get you something much better [than the anti-depressant]," implying that he has connections to drugs somewhere.
Interestingly, Robard's self-help tapes are not his first entrepreneurial endeavour. In GTA Vice City Stories, he runs an "Import/Export" business where clients lease a boat and ferry "special" cargo to and from an island base not too far from Vice City. Like the implied nature of his self-help tape business, his "Import/Export" business actually consists of drug-running via boats.
Near the end of the show, Maurice eventually sees that Robard's program is worth nothing, that it hasn't got him anywhere, that he is not a rich successful businessman, that he hasn't changed anyone's lives, and that he is nothing but a poor desperate fraud. After an exchange of insults, which includes Robard telling Konstantinos to put a hex on Maurice, Maurice becomes incensed and breaks Jeremy's nose with a 'heavy paperweight' on the air. Robard then threatens to sue, but is quickly cowed when Maurice threatens further violence.
The final debate in GTA Vice City concerns public safety, particularly in the context of the rising tide of crime promoted in no small part by Tommy Vercetti, the game's protagonist. The three guests during this segment are:
- Congressman Alex Shrub (voiced by Christopher Lucas), an extremely right-wing, cocky politician who is also the youngest congressman elected by the city. He believes that the rich should be more accepted in America and the poor forgotten about, and during the course of the debate, he also reveals embarrassing facts about host Maurice Chavez (his former work as a clown, his failed attempts to be an actor, suffering from anxiety, attending group therapy, desire for a sex change, etc.) along with having an attractive girlfriend although she's married to his best friend (a reference to "Scarface"). Shrub also notes that an "idiot liberal" helped rescue him and launch his career in radio. In GTA Vice City Stories, it is revealed that this person is none other than Michelle Montanius.
- Social activist and extreme liberal Callum Crayshaw (Sean Modica) is a stereotypical concerned rich boy who wants to "help the poor" in completely infeasible ways with an organization he formed called "Speaking for the Underdog," and often talks about his trips to other continents (funded by his wealthy businessman father, who doesn't seem to care about the same issues at all).
- The last panel member is secessionist and last-minute panel replacement (the previous guest was "carjacked and is now at home arming himself to the teeth," according to Chavez) John F. Hickory (L.J. Gansen), an extremely radical native Floridian (though it is revealed he only moved to Vice City recently) who believes that by digging a suitably large river, Florida can break free of the American mainland, and finally put a stop to the people flooding in from the northern states.
The debate ends with no incidents ensued in the studio unlike the previous two debates; Morality and Perception and Positive Thinking.
GTA Vice City Stories
Modern Life in 1984 ("Crazy or what?")
- Martin Graves – (David Deblinger) A technologist and stereotypical nerd that has absurdly futuristic dreams, many with a high concentration of robots, as well as a variety of strange sexual fetishes. Abhors mainstream religion as obsolete and derides creationism in classrooms.
- Bryony Craddock (Shelagh Ratner) – A fanatically patriotic "white trash" mother who has had 15 children and is already pregnant with her next one, and ends up going into labor towards the end of the show. She believes that large numbers of American children are the best way to preserve American culture and heritage. She also believes in matriarchy. She may also be a stereotype of a "soccer mom," as she attends numerous PTA meetings, is quite religious, and is quick to try and silence anyone who says something she finds offensive (she joined a successful petition to pull Crow's then-latest album off the radio, stating that she believes no one should be allowed to hear it.)
- Forbes Waverly III (Melinda Wade) – An uncaring and ruthless industrialist from Connecticut whose name and mannerisms are very masculine. She is obsessed with the economy and possession. Her acerbic behavior is attributed to her being neglected by her father as a child.
It is implied throughout the breaks in between shows on VCPR and later revealed in Pressing Issues that Maurice Chavez had an affair with fellow reporter Michelle Montanius and impregnated her. She keeps begging Maurice for money to get an abortion, revealing why she called him an asshole in GTA Vice City.