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That's no meteorite!
October 30, 2008 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Seventy years ago today was the original broadcast of "The War of the Worlds". Listen to it, uninterrupted, here. The program reportedly caused a mass panic across much of the Northeast.

The Museum of Hoaxes has some good information about the extent of the actual "panic" that erupted from the broadcast.

Grovers Mill - now part of Windsor Township - has a monument at the "crash site".

Previously discussed monument at Woking, site of HG Wells' original Martian landing.
posted by backseatpilot (13 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I got tapes of this when I was a kid and loved to listen to them.

I was very confused about the place called "New York, New Jersey". Eventually my mother figured out it was Newark.

I'm looking forward to listening to it again.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 12:33 PM on October 30, 2008


Neat. We're making a "pilgrimage" to the monument tomorrow. (Actually, it's just on the way...)
posted by JoanArkham at 12:39 PM on October 30, 2008


A lot of people with the first name “John” listened to that original broadcast.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:43 PM on October 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I used to work for a medical diagnostic company in Woking, daily testing human plasma, and I thought of HGW and conjectural Martians every one of those days. We even had a cyclotron, which I believe irradiated my knees without positive outcome.

Love HGW? Love TWOTW? Love literature? I recommend this.
posted by Hugobaron at 12:51 PM on October 30, 2008


Or...tonight at 8pm EST, Indiana Public Radio (Ball State University) will be airing a live radio recreation of War of the Worlds broadcast. If you can't fly to Muncie in time to be in the audience, you can grab a stream here.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:59 PM on October 30, 2008


Radio Lab had an episode on the War of the Worlds which is, like pretty much all of the Radio Labs, well worth a listen.

That episode was also where I learned about the 1949 broadcast in Quito where the resulting crowd panic turned into angry murderous mob that burned down the radio station, in one of those uglier demonstrations that people really don't like being made to feel foolish or fooled.
posted by Drastic at 1:01 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


My theater company is doing a reading of the original script tonight if anyone in the Boston area wants to come watch. You can MeMail me for details.

Forgive me if this is too much self-promotion, you can kill this comment and slap me on the wrists if necessary.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:11 PM on October 30, 2008


Here in Boston we once had our own panic-inducing hoax broadcast.
posted by bondcliff at 1:11 PM on October 30, 2008


Here's another interesting article about the extent of the "panic" caused by the show and the ensuing media coverage.
posted by mr.grum at 1:22 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's some good, anecdotal stuff of folks losing it in the New York Times from October 31, 1938: "Radio Listeners in Panic".

Patrolman John Morrison was on duty at the switchboard in Bronx Police Headquarters when, as he afterward expressed it, all the lines became busy at once. Among the first who answered was a man who informed him:

"They're bombing New Jersey!"

"How do you know?" Patrolman Morrison inquired.

"I heard it on the radio," the voice on the other end of the wire replied. "Then I went to the roof and I could see the smoke from the bombs, drifting over toward New York. What shall I do?"

posted by steef at 1:49 PM on October 30, 2008


Here in Boston we once had our own panic-inducing hoax broadcast.

Pff. The people of Boston panic at anything. I imagine as the Christmas lights go up this year they'll be hurling themselves off of bridges because the think it's terrorist alien spacecraft up in the sky.
posted by Artw at 2:17 PM on October 30, 2008


Radio Lab had an episode on the War of the Worlds which is, like pretty much all of the Radio Labs, well worth a listen.


Seconding this recommendation. That show is great (if it's the one I'm thinking of, can't listen now) because it explores the question of "How could people back then have been so stupid?" It helps a lot to understand the context - radio news was new, the idea of 'breaking in' to a broadcast was new, etc.

Here in Boston we once had our own panic-inducing hoax broadcast.


I thought you were referring to this. Those people way back when were so stupid!
posted by Miko at 2:53 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


There also Jeff Wayne's musical version of The War of the Worlds. Pretty cool stuff.
posted by inigo2 at 9:12 AM on October 31, 2008


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