Doomsday arrived on Oct. 30, 1938, when poisonous black gas crept through New Jersey, ray guns shot flames across New York City and killing machines from Mars took over the nation.
Or, that's what nearly 1 million radio listeners thought, at least.
No. A million people may have heard the show, but I’d bet the number who thought it was an actual broadcast numbered in the low dozens. If that. PBS disagrees:
PBS celebrated the milestone a day early with the premiere of War of the Worlds, a documentary presented by American Experience.
"This is the most famous media event in history," American Experience Executive Producer Mark Samel told Mashable.
“It showed us that fear can overcome even the most rational parts of our brains.”
Well, there’s something I never considered possible. Here’s Slate this week:
The supposed panic was so tiny as to be practically immeasurable on the night of the broadcast. Despite repeated assertions to the contrary in the PBS and NPR programs, almost nobody was fooled by Welles’ broadcast.
Far fewer people heard the broadcast—and fewer still panicked—than most people believe today. How do we know? The night the program aired, the C.E. Hooper ratings service telephoned 5,000 households for its national ratings survey. “To what program are you listening?” the service asked respondents. Only 2 percent answered a radio “play” or “the Orson Welles program,” or something similar indicating CBS. None said a “news broadcast,” according to a summary published in Broadcasting. In other words, 98 percent of those surveyed were listening to something else, or nothing at all, on Oct. 30, 1938.
This miniscule rating is not surprising. Welles’ program was scheduled against one of the most popular national programs at the time—ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s Chase and Sanborn Hour, a comedy-variety show.
Bergen was a ratings powerhouse. Welles’ show was . . . arty. Fancy-pants stuff. So how did the myth get started? Read the piece.
MORE NONSENSE Travel and Leisure’s website has named the U of M one of the country’s Ugliest Campuses.
Many great architects including Steven Holl and Frank Gehry have tried their hand at turning the commuter campus of the University of Minnesota from Brutalist to Pritzker Prize–worthy. It’s no small feat. Take, for example, the Coffman Memorial Building: the only feature that could make it look more industrial would be the addition of smokestacks. With more than 30,000 undergraduates all on one campus, the University of Minnesota is the one of the most populous in the country. “It’s simply too big,” complains one student on the Unigo.com message board.
Leaving aside the fact that the size of the campus has nothing to do with its aesthetic qualities, and that it confuses the Streamlined Moderne style of Coffman with industrial Brutalism, or that Gehry’s building is an anomalous interloper in the classically-detailed Mall region, the author is full of beans. Cass Gilbert’s Mall is a work of great Classical beauty, the very picture of the standard conception of a college, and the old campus is a handsome collection of buildings that incorporate the range of early 20th century architectural styles.
The article used a banal view from a local photographer’s Flickr stream, instead of this shot of the Auditorium. Wonder why? No link for them.
Oh, here's a Pritzker Prize winner: