The response to Orson Welles' 1938 national radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, which convinced over one million listeners that Martians were invading a small town in New Jersey, is now legendary: frantic calls to the police, women fainting, and in Seattle (where a purely coincidental blackout took place during the broadcast) people fleeing town, firearms in hand.
How is it, then, that with the international publicity the broadcast triggered (Hitler had a thing or two to say about it), and its ongoing mystique, subsequent stagings were still able to inspire panic, terror, and mass hysteria over and over again throughout the world?
On the eve of the War of the Worlds 70th anniversary, RADIO LAB - public radio's award-winning show about wonder, discovery and big ideas - is coming to Chicago to crack the case.
Martian Invasion! Decoding the War of the Worlds, a special live edition of the cult sensation Radio Lab, is ideal for getting into the Halloween spirit.
Radio Lab hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich will deconstruct the original broadcast of War of the Worlds and describe what was happening-sociologically and psychologically-at each step. They will also stage a "field report" on the panic induced by the 1949 broadcast of War of the Worlds in Quito, Ecuador - which incited a riot at the radio station in which 15 people were killed. Along the way, Abumrad and Krulwich will hear from eyewitnesses, scientists, and master storytellers to investigate the nature of belief and skepticism, uncovering the neurological differences between those who believed and those who did not.
This innovative blending of old-time radio with Radio Lab's signature cutting-edge audio will be accompanied by the adventurous cellist Zoe Keating.
Visit the Martian Invasion! Decoding the War of the Worlds website: