The War of the Worlds on Podcast: How H.G. Wells and Orson Welles Riveted A Nation

Waroftheworld_1 Since we’re already talking today about Orson Welles (see immediately below), it seems worth doing a reprise of another article that looks at Welles’ famous radio broadcast. It’s perhaps our most popular entry to date. Enjoy.

Over the past year, we’ve seen tech-savvy book lovers start recording and issuing their own homegrown audio books and aggregating them on sites like Librivox. The audio texts mostly come from the public domain for obvious copyright reasons (though you can find some exceptions), and, yes, they’re sometimes of uneven quality. Among the first releases, you’d expect to find a lot of the great classical works the major plays of Shakespeare, the foundational philosophical works by Plato, etc. and you do get some of those. But what you find more often are texts by more modern writers working in the thriller, adventure, and sci fi genres: Washington Irving, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and H.G. Wells. (Find these podcasts here.) It seems entirely fitting (and, when you think about it, unsurprising) that Wells, the father of science fiction, would be among the first to find his writings digitally recorded and distributed. Nowadays, you can download, sync and listen to his major works The New Accelerator (mp3), The Invisible Man (iTunesfeed), The Time Machine (iTunesfeed), and The War of the Worlds  (iTunes).

But what’s even better and cooler than all of this, at least in our minds, is that you can now also download the version of The War of the Worlds that Orson Welles famously adapted and aired on national radio in October 1938. Presented so that it sounded like an actual news broadcast, the Orson Welles version was mistaken for truth by many listeners who caught the program midstream (more info here), and, soon enough, they found themselves cowering in basements or fleeing in cars with guns cocked and loaded, all in a desperate attempt to avoid an unfolding Martian invasion. You can catch the mp3 version of the famous Welles’ recording here. Or here is an alternative in case the original file gets overly trafficked. Enjoy.

See our complete Audio Book Podcast Collection and other podcast collections.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.