Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our blog program to bring you a special news bulletin.
At twenty minutes before eight, Professor Farrell of the Munich university observatory reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving towards the earth with enormous velocity.
Now, nearer home, comes a special bulletin from Rosenheim. It is reported that at 9:50 A.M. a huge, flaming object, believed to be a meteorite, fell on a farm in the neighborhood of Prien at the Chiemsee, 9 miles from Rosenheim.
The flash in the sky was visible within a radius of several hundred miles and the noise of the impact was heard as far north as Ingolstadt. Our reporter:
“Well, I… hardly know where to begin. I just got here. I guess that’s the thing, directly in front of me, half buried in a vast pit. Must have struck with terrific force. What I can see of the object itself doesn’t look very much like a meteor, at least not the meteors I’ve seen. It looks more like a huge cylinder, with a diameter of… about thirty yards.
She’s off! The top’s loose! Look out there! Stand back!
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed… Wait a minute! Someone’s crawling out of the hollow top. Someone or… something. I can see peering out of that black hole two luminous disks — are they eyes? It might be a face. It might be…
A humped shape is rising out of the pit. I can make out a small beam of light against a mirror. What’s that? There’s a jet of flame springing from that mirror, and it leaps right at the advancing men. It strikes them head on! Good Lord, they’re turning into flame!”
Would that be a reason to panic – hearing it only on radio, without television or internet?
At least that is an (adapted and shortened) excerpt from the beginning of Orson Welles’ radio drama based on H.G.Wells’ “War of the Worlds” which aired 69 years ago today, on 30 October 1938, in the USA and apparently caused some panic mainly in New York and New Jersey where the main plot has been moved to…
You can get an original recording e.g. at the Internet Archive, and a transcript here.