Seventyfive years ago today, a broadcast of light music was interrupted for a special bulletin from Intercontinental news.
WNYC's Radiolab took a look into Orson Welles' 1938 radio production of H.G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds, which caused mass panic in the United States when listeners mistook a radio drama for actual reporting. They then explored the question of whether such hysteria could be recreated in a similar way, recounting stories from Quito, Ecuador in 1949 and Buffalo, New York in 1968. (There was one other attempt in Santiago, Chile in 1944 which is not mentioned in the Radiolab synopsis.)
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. [more inside]
The new War of the Worlds movie will premiere in June '05. Based on H.G. Wells book, (e-text), the story terrified thousands of American radio listeners and caused a panic on October 30, 1938. That night, a series of increasingly alarming breaking news reports (narrated by a young Orson Welles) about an invading force of Martians interrupted the Mercury Theater show on WABC radio in NYC. Welles had announced at the start of the hour that he was reading a story, but most of the audience tuned in late and thought it was all real. More information can be found here and here. Wav files of the original broadcast can be downloaded (or purchased) from here. "They're bombing New Jersey!": Check out a picture of the NYTimes front page and full text of the article they ran the next day. War of the Worlds has been made into several films, including this one from 1953.
War of the Worlds (this is not about Bush) Don't own a television? Want an alternative? Live performance, live orchestra, no net. October 30, 2002 8-9 PM Eastern. Glenn Beck recreates Orson Welles chilling performance that captivated a nation along with full orchestrations and foley effects. this is a radio broadcast