The Martian Effect. the War of the Worlds Broadcast

2372 WordsMar 10, 201310 Pages
To most individuals living in the United States on October 30, 1938, this Sunday evening seemed like any other Sunday evening. Around 7:00 pm, millions of families across the country were finishing dinner and waiting to tune into their favorite radio show. Approximately 34.7 percent of the nation’s listenership would be tuning into NBC’s the Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show at 8:00 pm. However, on this particular Sunday evening, another radio broadcast was about to make history. As usual many listeners of the Bergen and McCarthy show decided to “twiddle” their dials instead of listening to coffee advertisements. At 8:12 pm those listeners who turned the dial on the Chase&Sandborn coffee ads found themselves, stunned, listening to…show more content…
Despite his best efforts, Koch’s adaptation was not received well by other members in the company. Welles called the script “corny” and criticized the writers for “presenting so silly a show” according to the show’s producer, Dick Barr. Even the technicians and the secretaries had reservations about the show. Koch chose to use real locations and landmarks to heighten shock value and increase the script’s entertainment value. Houseman suggested Koch “dramatize it in the form of news bulletins.” Koch agreed and divided airtime between a slow music program and emergency news bulletins. The ‘fake’ music program took place at a hotel. “Radio was full at that time of remote programs from hotels,’ said Eric Barnouw, “they were always filling in time by going the Hotel Pennsylvania, and so forth.” The dance music was continuously interrupted by emergency news broadcasts from reporters and live witnesses warning listeners of a Martian invasion currently taking place in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, a small town near Princeton University. The broadcast exemplified “radio verite- the highly effective use of overlapping dialogue, crowd noise, microphone feedback, and other effects.” In his book, however, Cowell argues that Koch’s adaptation succeeded because of “its consistent immediacy: the music, sound effects, silences and hesitations throughout the play are as important as its blatant screams of hysteria and the story of itself.” Even listeners who had heard the
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