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War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast

On October 30, 1938 over 6 million listeners tuned in for Mercury Theater on the Air's adaptation of "The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells. Writers Howard Koch and John Houseman were tasked with creating the radio play in less then a week. With only a hasty rehearsal and a substantial rewrite just days before, the theater group was only hoping to get through the night without a major flop.

The breaking news format where a reporter interrupted the regular programming at intervals until taking over the airwaves with the panic and confusion of a Martian invasion proved to be incredibly realistic. So realistic, a reported 1 million listeners actually believed an invasion was occurring.
At the conclusion of the broadcast, the police stormed the broadcast booth, confiscated scripts and interviewed the players.

Orson Welles, already a Broadway theater favorite, had notched an incredible success and furthered his legendary status. He wanted to demonstrate to America through this Halloween hoax that you shouldn't take everything you hear as the truth. A message that, unfortunately, needs to be repeated from time to time.

War of the Worlds (easy-to-read adaptation) by Wells, H.G.
Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. It is small, red and cold. No one believes anything lives there - until the first spaceship lands on Earth! At first, people are eager to welcome the alien visitors. But then they discover the horrible truth: The Martians have come to conquer the planet! ... read more