80 Years Ago ‘War of the Worlds’ Radio Broadcast Scared The Hell Out Of The Entire Country
Today marks the 80th anniversary of a radio broadcast that caused all kinds of panic and fright on the streets of American cities. 'War of the Worlds' was written in 1897 by H. G. Wells and was a very popular science fiction novel, but in the hands of Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater actors, it took on a life of its own.
Welles began the broadcast by announcing that the night's program would be an adaptation of the story. He set the story up with a prologue, but then the program was presented like a typical, for the times, radio program of dance music. Intermittently, there were increasingly frantic news breaks about an object having fallen in the field of a farmer, police getting to the scene, a crowd gathering, and ultimately a Martian warship releasing a poisonous cloud near New York City.
Because there was no commercial break for the first 30 minutes of the broadcast, people thought they were listening to an actual program and terrifying news reports of aliens invading America.
If you have kids, you should listen to the broadcast. It is really amazing to hear how they amped up the scare factor, but it is all in the listener's head. I like to listen to this the night before Halloween because it is really done so well and truly messes with your mind!