Real-Life Casualties from "War of the Worlds"

Everyone knows about Orson Welles' famous 1938 radio version of War Of The Worlds, which panicked the nation by (accidentally?) convincing those who tuned in late that New Jersey had been invaded by Martians. But how many of you knew that the same hoax succeeded two other times - and in one case, resulted in riots, the destruction of the radio station who'd broadcast the show, and a death toll between 6 and 20 people? Those stories, as well as the reason why so many people fell for Welles' original broadcast, are at the heart of a special episode of WNYC's awesome Radio Lab.

Radio Lab, an hour-long show where co-hosts Jad Abumraud and Robert Krulwich investigate the why behind subjects like The Ring Cycle, deceit and why we laugh, mixes soundscapes with conversation, humor and hard science to come up with something that's been called the best radio show in America. Their "War of The Worlds" episode - the first recorded live in front of an audience - may lack some of the more inventive remixing of interview and dialogue, but makes up for it with the amazing - and somewhat unbelievable - stories behind the various radio versions of HG Wells' story.

With guests including Blair Witch Project creator Daniel Myrick and the daughter of an Equadorian radio producer whose version of the play didn't end so well, creates an essential hour of listening that - as the show's website puts it - examines the "power of the mass media to create panic." Listen and wonder whatever happened to the power of science fiction.

War of the Worlds [Radiolab.org]