The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds

Re-Imagined Radio has more than once celebrated World Audio Drama Day with an adaptation of "The War of the Worlds" inspired by the 1898 H. G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds and the 30 October 1938 radio dramatization by Orson Welles and The Mercury Theatre on the Air.

The story is about an invasion of Earth by beings from the planet Mars. The use of "break in" news announcements convinces listeners that they are listening to live events unfolding around the country. Believable dialogue and realistic sound effects create a sense of urgency in listeners' imaginations.

"The War of the Worlds" has been called the most famous radio broadcast of all time. LEARN more.

2021 Episode

The War of the Worlds (2021)
18 October 2021

Program Guide for The War of the Worlds
Re-Imagined Radio celebrated the 83rd anniversary of “The War of the Worlds” original broadcast, and World Audio Drama Day with our radio adaptation of this classic radio drama. We re-imagined the storyline, keeping parts of this classic radio drama, and adding new content, placing all in present day Vancouver, Washington. We used local landmarks and characters. We introduced new plot twists and perspectives. We incorporated cinematic sound effects and ambiences, all custom created for this episode. And, we introduced "The Voices," our new ensemble of amazing voice actors.

It was cracking good use of words, music, sound effects, and imagination to create worlds at war and a way to be in the middle of the action.

Broadcasts and streams by our local, regional, and international partners. Archival recordings available for on demand listening below in two versions: one optimized for radio broadcast, the other enhanced for a superior listening experience with headphones wherever you are sitting comfortably.

Listen

Optimized for radio broadcast.

Enhanced for superior listening experience with headphones.

The Voices

John Barber as Host
A helpful guide throughout the episode.

Marc Rose as The Martian
Provides a different perspective on the invasion of "The Blue Planet."

Bradley Richardson as Museum Director
Richardson is the real life Director of Clark County Historical Museum, Vancouver, WA.

Patricia Blem as Professor Rowena Pierson
Noted scientist and astronomer. Retired from Princeton University, now living in Vancouver, WA.

Rod Hill as Weather Announcer
Hill is the real life meteorologist for KGW 8 TV, Portland, OR.

Laurence Overmire as Carl Phillips
Reporter for local radio station.

Jeff Pollard as Grover Wilmuth
Owner of farm in Battle Ground, WA, site of Martian capsule landing.

Bruce Miles as Captain Lance Lansing
Signal Corp, State Militia. Officious and arrogant.

Stephanie Crowley as Ham Radio operator
A lonely voice reaching out for connection.

News montage segments by Erin Buckley, Laura Duyn, Devin James, Billy Bryan, Jeff Pollard, and Stephanie Crowley.

Credits

     Script Adaptation by John Barber
     Sound Design, Music, and Post Production by Marc Rose of Fuse Audio Design
     Social Media by Regina Carol Social Media Management
     Promotional Graphics by Holly Slocum Design
     Produced and Hosted by John Barber

Excerpts, Exhibitions

"The War of the Worlds Sample." Lights Out Listening Group, The Old Hairdressers, Glasgow, Scotland, 17 Nov. 2021.
Event Program

Background

In 1898, English author H.G. Wells published The War of the Worlds, one of the earliest literary works to examine conflict between human and extraterrestrials.

In 1938 Howard E. Koch, adapted Wells' novel for radio, highlighting the conflict through a series of "break in" news announcements to create a sense of immediacy surrounding reports of Martian metal cylinders falling to Earth and a group of tripod-like fighting machines wreaking havoc in New Jersey and New York City. Directed by and starring Orson Welles, age twenty-three, and performed by a twenty seven-piece orchestra and ten actors of The Mercury Theatre on the Air, 30 October 1938, "The War of the Worlds" was believed by many listeners to be reports of an actual invasion of Earth by beings from the planet Mars. Although not the first radio program to create confusion among listeners (LEARN more), "The War of the Worlds" is considered the most (in)famous radio broadcast of all time, and continues to provoke interest and inspiration.

Iterations

The War of the Worlds has been reprised several times . . .

18 October 2021
Featuring The Voices, sound design, music, and post production by three-time Emmy Award winning sound designer Marc Rose, and a script adaption by John Barber, Re-Imagined Radio raised the bar for compelling performances of this classic bit of radio storytelling.

29 October 2013
Public Broadcasting Service
Part of the American Experience history series. An account of the original radio broadcast.

30 November 2012
A re-recorded version, Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds: The New Generation was released with narration from Liam Neeson and new versions of the original songs sung by Gary Barlow, Joss Stone, and Maverick Sabre. Listen / download the tracks from both albums.

2008
Tom Roe, a founder and program director of WGXC Radio (90.7 FM), a program division of Wave Farm, performed, for a number of years, The War of the Worlds as a radio broadcast. Each year he used current international wars and conflicts to foreground the original story. Listen to Roe's 2008 broadcast, The War of the War of the Worlds.

9 November 2007
War of the Servers, a film by machinima group Lit Fuse Films; based on Wayne's musical. Strange beings called Mingebags invade the servers of the popular game Garry's Mod. One player must try to survive while searching for his friends amid the chaos and war.

1981
Highlights from Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, including the radio edits, was released by CBS.

1978
Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds produced by composer Jeff Wayne. This musical retelling of the novel by H. G. Wells features Academy Award nominated actor Richard Burton, Justin Hayward (of The Moody Blues), Chris Thompson (of Manfred Mann), Phil Lynott (of Thin Lizzy), Julie Covington (of Evita and Rock Follies), and David Essex (of Evita and The China Plates). Most of the lyrics on the album were written by former Elton John lyricist Gary Osborne. The official album comes with several paintings by Peter Goodfellow, Geoff Taylor and Michael Trim that help to illustrate the story from beginning to end. To promote the album's release, a special "radio edit" version was produced and distributed to radio stations in an attempt to make the concept album more accessible to radio listeners.

31 October 1975
American Broadcasting Company
The Night that Panicked America, a made-for-television movie dramatizing events around the original "The War of the Worlds" broadcast. Of note are the scenes recreating the original radio broadcast as a live interplay between actors, Foley artists, producers, and network executives.

30 October 1974
Providence, Rhode Island
Radio station WPRO aired a modernized version of The War of the Worlds. Following complaints from listeners, the Federal Communications Commission open an inquiry, and officially reprimanded the station for airing the program. This was the first time a program like this ever received an official reprimand.

31 October 1968
Buffalo, New York
Radio station WKBW, under program director Jefferson Kaye, modernized the radio drama, mixing reports of Martian attacks with popular songs. Kaye interrupted the show with a disclaimer. The show was repeated in 1971 and 1975.

1968
The original broadcast of The War of the Worlds released on vinyl record. Welles received no royalties.

9 September 1957
New York
Studio One
Edward R. Murrow adds perspective to the original radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds in the television docudrama The Night America Trembled. The show was broadcast live from Studio One. There was no mention of Welles.

12 February 1949
Quito, Ecuador
A crowd gathered outside the building housing Radio Quito and El Commercio, the newspaper, angry at being deceived. Eventually the crowd burned the building, looted equipment, and smashed the presses.

12 November 1944
Santiago, Chile
The first remake, written by William Steele (who had written for Welles's The Shadow) and Raul Zento. They rewrote Koch's script for the Cooperativa Vitalicia radio network.

Responses

What a great end to my day and my week to have a discussion with you and Marc Rose about our passion to work in the audio dramatic field, and a personal joy for me to find more folks out there continuing the flame with such an incredible collection of professional and inventive work!

[And your adaptation of The War of the Worlds] . . . Wow! Simply Wow! This version has now risen to my top ten audio dramas of all time. I loved it! Thanks so much for the shout out at the end! And there's a part of me that felt a twinge in my heart knowing that Marc [Rose] had a key part in unravelling the mystery of the Alien's agenda!

Superb acting! Fun and inventive script! I could pick out the phrasing of both [Orson] Welles and [H.G.] Wells in various parts of it. That's awesome!

It's my pleasure to share Re-Imagined Radio on The Mutual Audio Network and to feature you on The Sonic Society with your [adaptation of] The War of the Worlds on October 31st! I'm so excited to get this out [for] Halloween!
—Jack Ward
The Sonic Society
Mutual Audio Network


I just heard The War of the Worlds re-creation on X-ray radio. That was incredible!!! Great production and local angles. Really well done. Better than the original.
—Dan Packard
PDXRadio.com


The episode was amazing! It scared the daylights out of me. With its different twist, I think Orson Welles would have been proud of this performance.
—Gerald Gaule
Owner and manager, Community Growth Network Radido


I just got done listening to The War of the Worlds radio play. I have to say I really did enjoy it. The War of the Worlds is one of my favorite books by H.G. Wells. I think that Orson Welles would have enjoyed your production. I like the added commentary from the perspective of the invading aliens. I always like it when people take a new spin on an old story to make it their own, and it works great in telling this tale.
—JD Carpenter

Promotion

"Sonic Speaks 0602: Re-Imagined Radio," 7 Nov. 2021.
Interview featuring John Barber and Marc Rose of Re-Imagined Radio and Jack Ward, The Sonic Society and The Mutual Audio Network
Or, listen at these popular listening posts
The Sonic Society website
iHeart Radio
Spotify
RSS Feed Link

Sonic Society #704-Radio Images, The Sonic Society and The Mutual Audio Drama Network, 31 Oct. 2021.
Both The Sonic Society and The Mutual Audio Drama Network included "The War of the Worlds" in their podcast playlist and archive as "Sonic Society #704-Radio Images" as not only an exemplary podcast but a fitting celebration of World Audio Drama Day. The Sonic Society said, "Re-Imagined Radio presents an incredible re-imagined look at Orson Welles’ and H.G. Wells' tale of Martian Invasion with their 2021 “War of the Worlds”! As we celebrate this World Audio Drama Day one day later! It’s Audio Drama time!"

"Voice Actors in Portland Resurrecting Radio Classic 'War of the Worlds' in October"
A television interview produced by Steve Redlin of KGW, Portland, Oregon, 22 Sep. 2021.

Graphics

The War of the Worlds web poster by Holly Slocum, Holly Slocum Design (240 x 356)
The War of the Worlds web poster 2021

The War of the Worlds cover poster by Holly Slocum, Holly Slocum Design (820 x 356)
The War of the Worlds cover poster 2021

The War of the Worlds social media poster by Holly Slocum, Holly Slocum Design (2000 x 2000)
The War of the Worlds social media poster 2021

The War of the Worlds full poster by Holly Slocum, Holly Slocum Design (2000 x 3000)
The War of the Worlds poster 2021

2018 Episode

The War of the Worlds (2018)
30 October 2018

Re-Imagined Radio presented a live performance by Metropolitan Performing Arts actors and other community volunteers at Kiggins Theatre in downtown Vancouver, Washington. Produced by Re-Imagined Radio. Audience count: 336. We celebrated World Audio Drama Day and the 80th anniversary of the original broadcast of this classic radio drama. Streamed live on KXRW-FM, Vancouver, Washington. Archival recording available for on demand listening.

Listen

Recorded live performance.

Cast

Barbara Richardson as Program Announcer
John Barber as Studio Announcer
Calvin Lieurance as Weather Announcer
Kristin Heller as Meridan Announcer
Greg Shilling as Carl Phillips (radio reporter)
Rebecca Kramer as Professor Rowena Pierson (female astronomer, retired)
Nick D'ettorre as Policeman
Ian Hanley as Mr. Grover Wilmuth (farmer)
Brett Allred as Montgomery Smith (Brigadier General, State Militia)
Joe Clemmons as Harry McDonald (Vice President, Operations)
Nick D'ettorre as Captain Lansing (Signal Corp)
Steve Becker as Secretary (of the Interior)
Ian Hanley as Artillery Officer
ACalvin Lieurance as rtillery Gunner
Arianna Dorenbosch as Artillery Observer
Kristin Heller as Lieutenant Voght
Joe Clemons as Radio Operator #1
Barbara Richardson as Radio Operator #2
Brett Allred as Radio Operator #3
Nick D'ettorre as Radio Operator #4
Greg Shilling as Radio Operator #5
Arianna Dorenbosch as Roof Top Announcer
Calvin Lieurance as Male Survivor 1
Ian Hanley as Male Survivor 2
Steve Becker as Male Survivor 3
Kristin Heller as Female Survivor 1
Arianna Dorenbosch as Female Survivor 2
Barbara Richardson as Female Survivor 3

Promotion

Re-Imagined Radio at the Kiggins Theater
KXRW "Radio Voices from Our Community" host Mike Selig visited Kiggins Theater in downtown Vancouver to watch the 80th Anniversary performance of The War of the Worlds, the radio drama that panicked a nation, and produced this abbreviated version of the performance. Also available here.

The Common Good Interviews
A two-part series produced by Joe Clemons, host of The Common Good, KXRW Radio, Vancouver, WA, highlighting Re-Imagined Radio. Part 1 rebroadcasted the 30 October 2018 performance of The War of the Worlds. More information at the archival webpage for this program maintained by XRAY FM radio. LEARN more.
Part 1, 11 June 2020

Part 2, 9 July 2020, features producer John Barber talking about the performance and some of the challenges of re-imagining classic radio dramas for contemporary audiences. More information at the archival webpage for this program maintained by XRAY FM radio. LEARN more.

Wade, Adeena. Re-Enactment of Historic Radio Broadcast. Story Hub, College of Arts and Sciences, Washington State University, 25 Oct. 2018.

2014 Episode

War of the Worlds (2014)
30 October 2014

Re-Imagined Radio presented a live performance by the Willamette Radio Workshop at Kiggins Theatre in downtown Vancouver, Washington. Audience count: SOLD OUT. We celebrated World Audio Drama Day and the 76th anniversary of the original broadcast, 30 Ocober 1938. No recording available.

Press & Feedback

Facebook page
'War of the Worlds' Reimagined at Kiggins. The Columbian, 30 Oct. 2014.

2013 Episode

30 October 2013

Re-Imagined Radio presented a live performance by the Willamette Radio Workshop at Kiggins Theatre in downtown Vancouver, Washington. Audience count: SOLD OUT. We celebrated World Audio Drama Day and the most famous radio broadcast of all time on the occasion of its 75th anniversary. No recording available.

Promotion

75 Years of War of the Worlds. OPB, 30 Oct. 2013.

Gallery
Martians with moustaches. Believe!

Martians with Moustaches
A curated gallery exhibition of works created by students in my Fall 2013 DTC 354 Digital Storytelling course. I published an essay about this course, my students' works, and our curatorial efforts as Martians, Moustaches, and Radio Drama. A Case Study for Sound Art Curation by Re-Creation in Leonardo Electronic Almanac (Dec. 2018). LEARN more.

The course included a transmedia storytelling component. Transmedia storytelling seeks to use specific features and affordances (potentials for particular actions) of multiple digital media/technologies to make storytelling more immersive and interactive. Usually, a transmedia story begins with a "base story." Specific media are then selected from their ability to tell some part of the story in ways not possible in more traditional storytelling. For example, if a story involves a number of brief narrative sequences, the transmedia storyteller might utilize some form of social media as the vehicle for posting these sequences to multiple readers/participants. The result is to, using text, social media, video or animation, and sound, facilitate narrative and storytelling in ways not possible using only a single medium.

Students explored transmedial storytelling experiences based on some aspect of the original broadcast of War of the Worlds. The exhibition ran throughout November at Nouspace Gallery & Media Lounge located in the Northbank Artists Gallery at 1005 Main Street, Vancouver, Washington.

Selected Student Projects

A Transmedia Experience by Morgan Hutchinson

War of the Worlds by Ryan Kellipio

Pierson's Notes by Geoffrey Matheson

War of the Worlds Revisited by Angela Morrelli