Retro Radio Memories Ep. 83 (War of the Worlds)

The War of the Worlds was a benchmark in Old Time Radio. Remembered today thanks to the amount of panic it was said to have caused when it aired in 1938. Although this may be true – nevertheless it is widely believed now that the media exaggerated the panic. Quite a bit actually.

I would add though having said that, there are two of those with the Mercury Theater on the Air. Stefan Schnabel as well as John Houseman who went on record saying that the Police descended on the station. I’ve included quotes from both in the podcast.

Of course The War of the Worlds was directed by none other than Orson Welles.
War of the Worlds

As I do mention in this episode. It was indeed Welles who suggested that real life places and names of recognizable people be included. Something that CBS balked at – forcing some changes as the studio was worried that audiences would believe the broadcast!

What is The War of the Worlds about?

Wait. Are you serious? I mean…you aren’t pulling my leg? I hadn’t actually expected that question.

H.G. Wells wrote his famous novel back in 1898. Well – it was actually originally published in a serialized format through Pearson’s Magazine and Cosmopoltian in 1897. It was collected and published in book form in 1898.

It reads as an account of an eyewitness to an invading force from the planet Mars. The unnamed author of the work gives readers an almost blow by blow account of the technological might of the Martians. As using “towering three-legged” machines of war they run rampant across the English countryside.

Naturally the writer for the radio play of The War of the Worlds set the invasion in America, in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey in fact. At least the starting point of the arrival of the Martians. Soon however through continually dire news reports – the listener is treated to an apocalyptic invasion.

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The music on the podcast was graciously provided by Peachy! You may contact him by e-mail at

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Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.
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