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The Radio Effect Essay

1118 words - 5 pages

War of the Worlds is an out of the box radio play that changed the world of mass communication forever and allowed the entire nation to see power of imagination and the unique power of radio over its audience. The creators of this nationwide hysteria were Orson Welles and the Mercury group. Orson Welles was a famous American actor, producer, director and radio broadcaster. In an effort to increase the shows audience, Orson Wells catered the idea of a Halloween public scare. The War of the Worlds radio play was a dramatization of H.G. Well’s novel The War of the worlds (1898 novel relating the story of an alien invasion on Earth) and performed as a scary Halloween episode on of the radio ...view middle of the document...

The changed were made to make the script into a running commentary so that it can be read as live news; from the aftermath of the incident, we know that their efforts did work, but resulted negatively. The radio play was presented by Welles and the CBS team in a news-bulletin forma, where there were long gaps between news updates; these gaps were filled with music or forecasts. The format was very disturbing because people were confused by music or weather forecast while they were waiting to hear if aliens were attacking Earth. The confusion and chaos in the news-bulletin format could be understood by the lines,
“Ladies and gentlemen, following on the news given in our bulletin a moment ago, the Government Meteorological Bureau has requested the large observatories of the country to keep an astronomical watch on any further disturbances occurring on the planet Mars... We return you until then to the music of Ramón Raquello and his orchestra.”
The public’s reaction was very unpleasant as most listeners heard only a portion of the broadcast and, with the tension and anxiety prior to World War II, took the show to be an actual news broadcast. Newspapers reported that panic ensued, with people across the Northeastern United States and Canada fleeing their homes. In the aftermath of the reported panic, CBS responded to public outcry by pointing to reminders throughout the broadcast that it was a performance. Even though Welles and Mercury Theatre escaped punishment, their act led to the censorship of news broadcasting; then FCC chairman Frank McNinch got all the radio networks to agree that they would not use staged newscasts as an element of fictional dramas again. The censoring of news was a win for the public and a large step towards revolutionizing mass communication.
The radio play’s impact was large because during the 1938 period, for most people radio was the primary contacting source with the outside world, providing news and entertainment. This broadcast showed the audience of the era that how media can be manipulative and how gullible they all were. A one-way radio being their primary source of news, and gaps between the radio broadcast made the public go wild...

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