- uploaded: Jan 11, 2009
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In the aftermath of the reported panic, a public outcry arose, but CBS informed officials that listeners were reminded throughout the broadcast that it was a performance. Welles and the Mercury Theatre escaped punishment, but not censure, and CBS is believed to have had to promise never again to use "we interrupt this program" for dramatic purpose. However, many radio commercials to this day do start with the phrase "We interrupt this program".
A study by the Radio Project discovered that some who panicked presumed that Germans â€” not Martians â€” had invaded. Other studies suggest that the extent of the panic was exaggerated by contemporary media.
When a meeting between H.G. Wells and Orson Welles was broadcast on Radio KTSA San Antonio on October 28, 1940, Wells expressed a lack of understanding of the apparent panic and that it was, perhaps, only pretense, like the American version of Halloween, for fun. The two men and their radio interviewer joked about the matter, though with embarrassment. KTSA, as a CBS affiliate, had carried the broadcast.
War of the Worlds and the panic have become examples of mass hysteria and the delusions of crowds.
In 1988, during the weekend nearest the 50th anniversary of the broadcast, West Windsor Township, in which Grovers Mills is located, held a Martian festival. Designed to attract tourist revenue, this included "Martians" firing "ray guns" and carnival rides and hucksters' stalls. The New Yorker magazine review began "It's not every day we get to see the Martians invade..."