30 October 1938. Sunday evening. At 8pm Americans had just finished their dinner and were settling in for a bit of relaxation. Some were knitting, others were reading. Most were listening to the radio – the most popular medium of the time.
On CBS radio – the same station that later launched the famous and original shock-jock Howard Stern, and is today the most popular station in the US for listening to baseball games – many listeners tuned in to hear a weather report about some activity over Nova Scotia resulting in rain, after which there was some light music, when suddenly…
“Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars…”
For the next 50 minutes, via a series of live broadcasts, official reports and interviews with witnesses, the radio station described strange cylinders landing on earth that opened to reveal slavering, tentacled creatures and machines that proceeded to zap onlookers and military forces with jets of flame… an alien invasion.
Of course, none of it was real. The broadcast was a play of sorts, directed by Orson Welles, that was based on the book The War...
Join the community and keep up to date with the latest trends