Old Time Radio History #3

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Old Time Radio History, where we jump back in time where television and the Internet doesn’t exist, and the biggest form of home entertainment is to listen to the radio.  And what better way to dive right into the past than with the most well-known individual radio program in the course of Old Time Radio history…

Yes. This broadcast was first aired October 30, 1938.  Yes, I could wait for this post, but I’m not patient enough to do so.  Anyway, before we dive on in to the historical analysis of the show, we probably should listen to it first, huh?

Now, from about 2 minutes in to the 38:55 mark on the video is presented to us in a “breaking news” style of format.  If you tuned in during this portion of the program, you would most certainly think that something was wrong.  Maybe you would go into hysterics? Call someone in authority, explaining what you heard.  Apparently, a lot of people did that.

And the newspapers picked up on it back then.  But, did all this “mass hysteria” happen? The short answer…is no.  Researchers and others who have gone on to study this event with a very keen eye say that this did not, in fact, cause the amount of hysteria that supposedly happened.

So, why is this radio program so recognized? It’s because the show made headlines, if even for the wrong reasons.  Comparing it to today, it would have to have some sort of impact akin to having a pair of same-sex characters kissing on Sesame Street.  Ok, so that’s a little extreme, but in today’s society, isn’t that pretty much the case here? Something has to be incredibly shocking and outrageous to even make headlines in the world, and even then, it wouldn’t make front page, or leading story in the news. That’s how much power this broadcast had.

Well, I hope you enjoyed your foray into probably once of the most well-known fictional radio broadcasts in human history.  Tune in next week for some more exciting historical content.  Until next time, I am the Baumeister, and I have been, obediently yours. (Thanks Orson).

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