Historical Events  General
War of the Worlds radio broadcast

Epic trolling?

MMDE: The War of the Worlds radio broadcast caused mass panic

Current: The War of the Worlds radio broadcast caused very little panic

The 1938 radio transmission of Orson Wells' "The War of the Worlds" was a classic in broadcasting history.

It's famous (or is that notorious?) for the supposed effect it had on many who heard it. The story is it caused mass panic, overloading the police and emergency services as people really believed they were under attack. However, there is doubt today that this was the case, and evidence it was in fact all whipped up by the press at the time to sell more newspapers.

The broadcast itself is as enjoyable today as it was back then, with a commanding peformance by Wells. It formed part of an American drama series "Mercury Theatre on The Air", and was part of the Halloween episode on October 30, 1938. 

Popular myth

For 80 years, no-one questioned the stories of the mass panic. Reports of thousands of people feeling their homes and looking towards the sky to see a real "space battle" were in all the newspapers. Yet, that might have been the whole point. Today, doubt is thrown on whether this really was the case by ... todays newspapers. Well, it might generate a few more clicks for them ;-)