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The play centers on Nicky Shannigan, a middle-aged disc jockey who operates a listener-sponsored radio station. He is long on charm but short on cash, yet he idealistically resists his partner's pleas to accept advertising. He also runs into further trouble when a young rock star whom he has been helping is arrested on a drug charge, and Nicky uses his son's inheritance (from his first wife) to help him. When the son, who has been wounded both physically and psychologically in Vietnam, returns unexpectedly, he is bitter about his father's actions and tension begins to mount ominously. Nicky is also beset by other troubles the antagonism between his new wife and his son; the rebellious misbehavior of his teenage stepdaughter; and his dangerously stubborn refusal to give up a subpoenaed tape made by his young protege. In the end these forces collide, as they must, and with overwhelming dramatic power—yielding rape, murder and the moving spectacle of a man destroyed by the darker side of his own ideals.