War of the Worlds program(s) et al
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. 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
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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