War of the Worlds program(s) et al

Ric Werme ewerme@comcast.net
Tue Jul 10 20:42:20 EDT 2012

IIRC, one of the consequences of the 1938 program was that the FCC
prohibited the word "bulletin" outside of newscasts.  Wikipedia sort of


  The flood of publicity after the broadcast had two effects: an FCC ban
  on faux news bulletins within dramatic programming, and sponsorship for
  The Mercury Theatre on the Air - the former sustaining program became
  The Campbell Playhouse ....


  CBS is believed to have had to promise never again to use "we interrupt
  this program" for dramatic effect.[citation needed] However, many radio
  commercials to this day do start with the phrase "We interrupt this

However, the FCC seems to say they made no such attempt to throttle free speech
in http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2003/fall/war-of-worlds.html

  The FCC had been established just four years earlier, by the
  Communications Act of 1934, to regulate interstate and international
  communications. Its establishment reflected the growing importance of
  radio in American life. Although the law specifically prohibited the
  commission from censoring broadcast material or from making any
  regulation that would interfere with freedom of expression in
  broadcasting, these restrictions were either misunderstood or overlooked
  by nearly 60 percent of those who contacted the FCC.

A news item at
suggests there was was at least informal pressure:

  In announcing the conference, McNinch (FCC person who told the radio
  networks to attend) said: "I have heard the opinion often expressed
  within the industry as well as outside that the practice of using
  'flash,' as well as 'bulletin,' is overworked and results in misleading
  the public. It is hoped and believed that a discussion on this subject
  may lead to a clearer differentiation between bonafide news matter of
  first rank importance and that which is of only ordinary importance or
  which finds place in dramatics or advertising."

One good account of a 1968 recreation is at http://wkbwradio.com/warintro.htm
where they found a new way to succeed too well:

  However, Jeff Kaye soon found out that his KB staff of reporters and
  disc jockeys were not quite up to the standards of the original Mercury
  Theatre on the Air actors.

  Faced with airing a collection of amateurish readings by his staff, Kaye
  decided to allow the reporters to be themselves and have them report on
  the invasion as though it was actually occurring. ... This new approach
  not only worked better than following a written script, it scared the
  hell out of thousands of listeners.

Umm, I seem to recall that we're not supposed to quote other sites due
to copyright concerns. These are all small fragments (and constitute
fair use) or Wikipedia stuff.  Apologies to any lines transgressed.

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