Happy Birthday, Orson Welles’ “War Of The Worlds”
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It was 75 years ago tonight that Orson Welles’ infamous “War Of The Worlds” radio drama aired over the CBS radio network. For the uninformed, this adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel gained notoriety in the days and weeks following its broadcast because it supposedly inspired widespread outrage and panic by listeners who believed the events described in the program were real. As some listeners tuned into The Mercury Theater On The Air late, they took the fake news bulletins as real, calling newspapers, police, and CBS in a panic while many more fled their homes in fear. This of course turned out to be disproven later. Newspapers around the country were so concerned about the radio’s growing popularity as a news-breaking source and used the War Of The Worlds broadcast in an attempt to discredit the medium.
Ironically, the papers’ sensationalizing of the public’s response to the program helped solidified its legacy. Roughly thirty years later (1969) the broadcast in full was released on vinyl by a record label called Evolution. I purchased my copy during one of my very first trips to Princeton Record Exchange when I began collecting records. Every once in a while I’ll reach for it and play it through for fun. What better way to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the broadcast by listening to it again. Or, perhaps in your case, for the first time.
The War Of The Worlds
MediaFire DL Link
Sample: First 9:30 [MP3]
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