“War of the Worlds” Radio Broadcast

As discussed in class, the history of radio broadcasting has had a large influence on the masses.  Before the hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of social media platforms that we have today, the public relied on radio for all types of news.

In the 1930s radio was extremely popular because it had a way of united communities on a virtual level.  For the radio, the 1930s was a golden age. At the start of the decade 12 million American households owned a radio, and by 1939 this total had exploded to more than 28 million.  Radio broadcasts also was a great way for the public to stay updated on current affairs.  in 1937, when the Hindenburg ship crashed, the event was highly broadcast to the masses.  Because of everyones heavy reliance on radio, it is no surprise that radio listeners believed The War of the Worlds radio adaption was happening in real life.

After watching The War of he Worlds documentary, I found myself almost laughing out load–it was humorous the way people reacted.  Many people convinced themselves that they were actually hearing screams or seeing black smoke.  Seems crazy, right?  I thought, “how could people actual believe to space martians were invading New Jersey?”  But then I realized that in that time, the public really only had access to current event from one news outlet, the radio.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 10.52.38 AM

(Image Source: http://thestagblog.com/tuesdayapocalypse-waroftheworlds/)

According to an article from the Smithsonian, Brad Schwartz reveals that Welles presented the broadcast to make it seem like a crisis was actually happening.  Director and Welles collaborator Peter Bogdanovich tells us that Welles “scared half the country” and the crisis resulted in about a “12,500 articles in total.”  Ultimately, The War of the Worlds broadcast had a huge impact, and was extremely powerful.  Perhaps we all must consider the medias influence on our lives and always listen, (read, watch, etc.) with caution.  We can appreciate the many positive aspects that the internet and social media has brought us but as always, use our media literacy skills–take in information while practicing mindfulness.


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