War of the Worlds: Radio Creates a Panic
On the night of October 30, 1938, families everywhere were gathered around their radios for another episode of CBS’s Mercury Theater On The Air. The evening’s episode was a radio adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic War Of The Worlds, in which the Earth is invaded from outer space. The story was familiar to many, but was about to be presented in a way that had never been heard before.
Instead of simply telling the story, the broadcast presented it as a series of newscasts that interrupted “regular programming” to describe a martian invasion that started in a small town in New Jersey. While the live news format had been used in radio drama before, it had never been done as realistically or for as long without commercial interruption. The episode prompted many listeners to flee their homes and call friends and family for verification. While somewhat primitive by today’s standards, the broadcast was far ahead of its time and was an early demonstration of the power of radio for both news and entertainment.
Listen to the broadcast below or read more about it at Wikipedia.
Read the Entire Script
Here is the entire script of the actual radio broadcast of War of the Worlds.
Front Page News
War of the Worlds broadcast was heard by millions of Americans and many believed it to be true. The event was so provocative it made the front page of The New York Times.
Grover's Mill is on the Map
A tiny unincorporated village in New Jersey named Grover’s Mill (near Princeton) was the alleged location of the Martian invasion. Today there is a monument commemorating the landing in Van Nest Park in Grover’s Mill.