Residents of Zagreb panicked last week when they heard radio reports of UFO sighting. The station’s journalists admitted to a War of the Worlds-inspired hoax, but claim this hoax held a deeper purpose.
Last week, the Croatian station Radio Antenna began broadcasting reports of an unidentified flying object, a bright spot of light seen moving through the sky. The reports were apparently a planned hoax by the station’s journalists and Kresimir Misak, the host of the local science fiction show, “On the Brink of Science.” Much as Orson Welles staged his radio broadcast of HG Well’s The War of the Worlds to expose the public’s gullibility, these hoaxsters claimed there was a point to their deception:
The Croatian radio journalists admitted only around noon that their report was a joke, aimed at ridiculing Mayor Milan Bandić’s plans to turn Zagreb into a police stronghold. Bandić intended to supply the police with a helicopter, an unmanned flying device, an armoured car and other special instruments, as well as to build a fortified command centre. The journalists behind the joke had decided to test the authorities by faking a Martian attack on the air.
But the mayor was not the only one deceived by the broadcasts. Zagreb residents jammed up the phone lines with calls to relatives, the authorities, and the local fire department. Police officials are currently investigating whether the reports resulted in any public harm and plan to file charges against those involved.