On October 30th, 1938, at 8.00pm, the Mercury Theater On The Air, headed by Orson
Welles, broadcasted their performance of The War of the Worlds. It was an hour program where the first half was done as contemporary news bulletins spelling out the vanguard of an invasion force landing at Grover's Mill, New Jersey. It was performed as a Halloween event but too many people tuned in at the wrong time and got caught up in it believing it to be authentic and running out the door before the second half began in a more traditional radio-play structure.
Well, the shit went down and there was some sporadic panic in the streets. Over the ensuing weeks, then years and decades the media have blown it a bit out of proportion, but the myth remains firm that seventy years ago was the night that panicked America. It deserves the hype; the broadcast itself was a wonderful live performance that holds up so very well today.
Close your eyes and listen to this nine and half minute excerpt: