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The radio station WKBW broadcast a modernized version of the 1938 War of the Worlds radio drama. There were 3 variants to this broadcast:

1968 - The original and longest of the broadcasts. Sandy Beach was the disc jockey in the open.
1971 - Jackson Armstrong was the DJ at the beginning of this broadcast. This version was edited down to 63 minutes from the 1:18 original.
1973 - Shane "The Cosmic Cowboy" was the opening DJ and the rest of the broadcast identical to the 1971 version.
1975 - By far the weakest of the versions. Amateurish editing done to eliminate on-air talent no longer with the station.

All of the cast members were actual news reporters for the radio station. Initially, a script was written for the news reporters to act out. Upon hearing the rehearsals, though, it was evident that the news reporters were not adept at scripted radio acting.

In place of a script, Jeff Kaye wrote an outline based on the events that were to occur. The news reporters were then asked to describe the events as they would covering an actual news story. The results were much more realistic for its time, and this was the process used for the actual broadcast.

Despite an exhaustive advertising campaign by WKBW for this show, several people were still convinced upon listening to it that the events unfolding in the show were genuine. Although the public concern over the legitimacy of the broadcast was not as great as in 1938, creator Jeff Kaye and director Dan Kriegler feared that they were going to lose their jobs as a result of the broadcast. Jeff Kaye claims he actually submitted his resignation, certain that he was going to be fired the next day. However, no one involved in the broadcast was fired and the resignation was not accepted.

It is claimed that, because of the broadcast, FCC regulations involving radio dramas that mimic live broadcasts were altered to make airing these types of radio dramas more difficult in the future.

The 1968 original broadcast is considered notable amongst enthusiasts of both radio drama and the War of the Worlds franchise for the following reasons:

  • Originality. Up until this point, most radio renditions of the 1938 broadcast were simply script re-readings with different actors or had minor variations to account for significantly different geographical locations. The WKBW version disregarded the script entirely to modernize the story and reporting techniques for its time.
  • Shock Value. It was a generally-conceived notion before the broadcast that a mass hoax, even one as unintentional as the original broadcast, could never be duplicated again by a lone radio broadcast. The rise of television as a preferred news medium was a factor in this notion that radio could no longer produce such a drastic response from its audience. The fact that the WKBW broadcast could unintentionally re-create that response on a smaller scale surprised many people and garnered a lot of post-broadcast attention on the radio station. In this way, it was a successful marketing gimmick.

External links

Bibliography

  • Gosling, John. Waging the War of the Worlds. Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland, 2009 (paperback, ISBN 0786441054).
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