This week marks the anniversary of (arguably) the most influential broadcast in media history –  Orson Welles’ episode of Mercury Theater on the Air titled, WAR OF THE WORLDS.


WAR OF THE WORLDS was a special Halloween episode of the Mercury radio series that aired on October 30, 1938 on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) radio network. Directed and narrated by Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel “The War of the Worlds.”  Here is a Time article from 2008, which offers a brief history of the broadcast.






And there it is, ladies and gentlemen…one of the greatest moments in media history in a nutshell.  On October 29th PBS will be airing an episode of American Experience dedicated to the “War of the Worlds” telecast.  Be sure to tune in.

14 thoughts

  1. Thanks for pointing to the Youttube clips of Orson Welles being interviewed after the broadcast. Fascinating history . Today Welles would be saying, ‘You cannot be serious!’

    1. So true. I think he thought that then too. Even with his genius it must have been somewhat of a surprise that it was such a news story.


  2. I’d like to check out the PBS special on this. I always thought it fascinating that SO many people believed it to be real to the point of hysteria and panic. It’s that voice, I tell ya. What a voice!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing the link Aurora, I’m gonna listen to it later while I study! I wish I could catch the PBS special, but I don’t have that channel here. Everyone is changing their layouts, it must be a fall thing, haha. Looks good 😀

    1. So glad you like this, Sofia. I thought PBS was available everywhere. Times may change but I thought everywhere had a local PBS station.

      In any case – I’m glad I posted it so you can listen. It’s really quite something. Let me know what you think.


  4. Am listening to this now, as I catch up on computer-related tasks. Every time I hear it, I am in awe of how brilliant it is. It sounds so authentic!

    Did you see the made-for-TV movie, done quite some time ago, about people’s reactions to this radio play? I think the main characters were a family in the midwest who were taking this a little TOO seriously. I forget a lot of details of the movie, but not the climax – that was a real shocker.

    Thanks for giving us the chance to hear this again. 🙂

  5. Love that you posted this Aurora, it’s been years I listened to it. I had all but forgotten it, so I’ll be enthused about it all over again. Thank you!

  6. Great clips and pics, Aurora! There’s also a pretty made-for-TV movie about Welles’ broadcast called THE NIGHT THAT PANICKED AMERICA.

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