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War of the Worlds Radio Drama. A brief overview …. War of The Worlds Radio Dramatisation. Where: Recorded on the 20 th Floor of a high rise in New York City. BBC Studio. 1939 as a Halloween special performance. What:

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war of the worlds radio drama

War of the WorldsRadio Drama

A brief overview …

war of the worlds radio dramatisation
War of The WorldsRadio Dramatisation


  • Recorded on the 20th Floor of a high rise in New York City.
  • BBC Studio.
  • 1939 as a Halloween special performance.
  • Dramatisation of novel by HG Wells of explosions on Mars and an extra-terrestrial attack (martians!) on New York City.
  • Begins with a UFO (cylindrical object) landing in a farm paddock in Grover’s Mill (real location)
  • Recorded as a radio play with sound effects. Fake news reports regularly interrupted a musical performance giving terrifying updates as the cylinder opened and a creature emerged … and attacked.
Ends famously with a news reporter, broadcasting from atop the CBS building, describing the Martian invasion of New York City – “five great machines” wading across the Hudson River, poison smoke drifting over the city, people running and diving into the East River “like rats” others “falling like flies” – until he too succumbs to the poison gas.
Finally, a despairing ham radio operator is heard calling:

”2X2L calling CQ. Isn’t there anyone on the air? Isn’t there anyone on the air? Isn’t there … anyone?”

why was it so effective
Why was it so Effective?
  • Atmosphere in US at the time was one of tension and anxiety (prior to WWII)
  • Realistic descriptions (Words/Images are so powerful)
  • Effective sound techniques.
how did the people react
How did the people react?

Due to pre-war atmosphere, people believed it was an actual news broadcast.

Newspapers reported further.

Panic ensued with people calling CBS, newspapers and police which added to the confusion.

Across the Northeastern United States and Canada people fled their homes (and committed suicide).

what did the radio station do
What did the Radio Station Do?

They tried to reassure panicked listeners that it was only a play.

BUT, people now suspected that the radio station was simply trying to cover up the truth.

Panic caused phone lines to become blocked and a short circuit at a power station caused electricity to go out … which further added to the chaos.

how did it end
How did it end?

Within one month, newspapers had published 12,50 articles about the broadcast and its impact.

Adolf Hitler (remember, this was 1939) used this chaos and panic to his advantage by stating it was, “evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of (U.S) democracy”

view listen
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf6omuz1MrM&feature=fvwrel