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MPR Brings War of the Worlds to Western Montana

war of the worlds
Album cover of “War of the Worlds” record.
One of the examples of the power of radio has always been the 1938 Mercury Theater production of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.

Being a fan of OTR (Old Time Radio), I’ve loved listening to how Orson Welles and his maverick crew of actors brought the book to life, with live sound effects and very few disclaimers that it was fiction. As a result, people panicked (and FCC rules about disclaimers were changed). That first broadcast was 75 years ago.

I’ve played the original broadcast on our Hamilton radio stations a number of times over the years, and it’s a true classic.

This year, Montana’s public radio at the University of Montana, KUFM, is bringing the story to the airwaves. As was done in the original version, the show will air the night BEFORE Halloween, October 30.

Not satisfied with simply playing the 1938 version, KUFM is going one step beyond. They will re-create the original script live.

Professor Ray Ekness will direct Terry Conrad, William Marcus, Annie Garde, Michael Marsolek, Gus Chambers and others, with live sound effects, in the studio.

If that’s not enough, they’ve gone even farther. Ekness has written an original script, setting the War of the Worlds plot smack-dab in the middle of western Montana. That version, with the Martians invading Montana, will be on the air after the original-script program.

I applaud KUFM’s decision to tackle this live dramatic broadcast.

It starts at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 30. I will be listening.

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