December 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Archives

Categories

On this, the 72 anniversary of War of the Worlds

It was early evening when most people were sitting down to enjoy the latest edition of Mercury Theater on the Air on CBS.  After a brief narration by Orson Wells, which is set a year ahead of the actual date, there was a flash forward and brief weather forecast.  It then seemed that the show was not going to be on as Ramon Raquello and is orchestra were performing dance music when the music faded down and the announcer came on the air slightly out of breath:

Ladies and Gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you this special bulletin from the intercontinental radio news…

It was a great piece of theater, too realistic for many, others tuned in late and panic ensued.  People raced out of their houses, went to confession and didn’t pay for gas.  There were reports of long alien ships landing in New Jersey and incinerating crowds with heat rays. Then the black poison gas, oh, the black poison gas.

The day after, New York Times reported that up to 1.2 million people felt they were in grave danger and the world was ending.  It is hard to imagine how they came to that number, especially overnight for printing the next day.

Naturally, those commie federal regulators were having none of it, and the FCC proclaimed that broadcast hoaxes would not be tolerated, even promoligating a rule, 73.1217, stating, in part:

No licensee or permittee of any broadcast station shall broadcast false information concerning a crime or a catastrophe if: (a) The licensee knows this information is false; (b) It is forseeable that broadcast of the information will cause substantial public harm, and (c) Broadcast of the information does in fact directly cause substantial public harm.

There are some radio stations that still broadcast this show every Halloween, with the appropriate disclaimers, of course.  For those that want to hear the War of the Worlds, go to Radio Heard Here.  It is really a great show.

Happy Halloween!

Update:  Occasional reader Sandy sends along this link to the WKBW 1968 version, which was purported to be every bit as real as the 1938 version.  The station was deluged with phone calls.  In fact, legend has it that when the broadcast ended a little after midnight, show producer Jeff Kayne slipped his resignation letter under the General Manager’s door.

Axiom


A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
~1st amendment to the United States Constitution

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
~Benjamin Franklin

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
~Rudyard Kipling

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers
~Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, Article 19

...radio was discovered, and not invented, and that these frequencies and principles were always in existence long before man was aware of them. Therefore, no one owns them. They are there as free as sunlight, which is a higher frequency form of the same energy.
~Alan Weiner

Free counters!