AES to Celebrate the 80th Anniversary of “War of the Worlds” Broadcast

Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre performed H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” on the CBS radio network on Sunday, October 30, 1938 — 80 years ago this year.

Performed as a Halloween episode of The Mercury Theater of the Air broadcast, Welles and company scared the wits out of the nation. The radio show became a classic demonstration of the extraordinary power of the radio medium.

On Friday, Oct. 19, AES will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the famous 1938 broadcast at The Greene Space, 44 Charlton St., New York City, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The Greene Space is WNYC and WQXR’s radio lab for inspired conversations about life, art and politics.

An adaptation of H. G. Wells' 1898 novel, "The War of the Worlds," was written by Howard Koch. However, the show’s afternoon rehearsal was thought to be poor by Koch, Welles and the cast. Then, the young Welles, only 23-years-old, went into action, using his dramatic genius to create a last minute radio masterpiece.

Martians may not have really landed in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey in 1938, but the broadcast did send the young Orson Welles to Hollywood, where he next made Citizen Kane, one of the greatest films ever produced.

This 80th anniversary of "The War of the Worlds" will feature The Broadcast Bridge’s Frank Beacham, who worked as a producer with Welles in the 1980s, to discuss the dramatic tricks he used to turn the broadcast into a compelling and believable drama, plus recordings of the behind-the-scenes story in the CBS Studio that frantic night.

SueMedia's Sue Zizza and David Shinn along with the HEAR Now Festival and Voicescapes Audio Theater will produce and perform live recreations and interpretations from The War of the Worlds with actors.

Seth Winner and Sammy Jones will play excerpts from the newly remastered recording of the original broadcast, while Herb and Laurie Squire will discuss the reactions of the audience and public to the broadcast.

The AES celebration is part of the Broadcast & Online Delivery: B13 - 80th Anniversary of The Mercury Theater’s “War of the Worlds.”

Chair: David Bialik, Entercom.com - New York, NY, USA

Moderator: Sue Zizza, SueMedia Productions - Carle Place, NY, USA

Presenters:

Frank Beacham

Sammy Jones

David Shinn, National Audio Theatre Festivals - New York, NY

Joel Spector, Audio Consultant - New York

Herb Squire, Herb Squire - Martinsville, NJ

Seth Winner, Seth B. Winner Sound Studios, Inc. - Merrick, NY, USA

The Green Space, 44 Charlton St., New York City, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

New York Public Radio is hosting this event for the Audio Engineering Society Convention. Tickets will be required for access. Space is limited. This session is presented in association with the AES Technical Committee on Broadcast and Online Delivery

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