This is a Test: War of the Worlds

Posted by Eric Francis

Orson Welles directs the broadcast of War of the Worlds on Oct. 30, 1938. Note the live orchestra; and in the tradition of radio, the actors are standing, which increases their performance level.

Dear Friend and Reader:

For his weekly program on Halloween eve of 1938, a young Orson Welles tried something new. For some months, his Mercury Theater on the Air had run on Columbia Broadcasting System (the CBS Radio Network) with a small listenership. On the evening of Oct. 30, they decided to try doing a science fiction program.

George Orson Welles in 1938, a few months before War of the Worlds. He was 21 years old. Photo by portrait master Carl Van Vetchen.

They had acquired the rights to a short novel written by the British sci-fi author H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds. (Wells and Welles were both of English descent, both had George in their name, but they were not related.) That story, about an invasion from Mars, had been published 40 years earlier, in 1898. It was an old and well-known work at the time, read by many children and recreated in comic books.

Welles, however, thought the story made a boring script, so his writers updated it into a series of spot-news reports about an invasion from Mars that cut into a seemingly ordinary dance music program. This was a new technique at the time, the earliest version of the “breaking news” stripe at the bottom of the CNN screen: interrupting regular programming for something more important.

At the beginning of the program an announcer said clearly that the show would be a dramatization of the novel. Then at about 40 minutes, an announcer again said it was a dramatization, and then finally at the end Welles said it was a Halloween prank. But that did not matter; the genie was out of the bottle.

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Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for November 2016

Posted by Eric Francis


It’s time to make contact with your drive for social justice. This is a real value that you hold, and it can transcend many other distractions. You believe in the truth, and deep in your heart you want the truth to prevail. You believe in the right thing, and you want the right thing to happen. Taking action on this in small, tangible ways would be more helpful to you and the world than, say, texting money to a charity.

Democracy Now! — Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016

Posted by Planet Waves


As the United States accuses Russia of bombing civilians in Syria, Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh spoke with Bassam Haddad, director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies program at George Mason University. He argues that the two conflicting narratives being presented by each side oversimplify a complex situation.

Crouching Tiger, Listening Scorpion?

Posted by Amanda Painter

Drummers at the Oct. 16, 2016, Sacred and Profane festival, Peaks Island, Maine. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Looking at the astrology as we head into the weekend, a few things come to mind: incisive, insightful communication; the ability and desire to get beneath the surface of things; the potential for surprising outbursts due to frustrated urges; discovering new solutions to new challenges. Amanda Painter describes today’s Sun-Mercury conjunction in Scorpio, and Mars in Capricorn square Uranus-Eris in Aries.

Four Winds Report for Oct. 27, 2016

Posted by Planet Waves


You’ve probably never heard of 1992 QB1. For a long time there was speculation that no planets were orbiting our solar system beyond Pluto. Theories were debated for decades. Then one day two scientists spotted something with an orbit just over 289 years, a shade beyond Pluto. Its discovery degree is the Aries Point — 01 Aries. This discovery established the existence of what became known as the Kuiper Belt.

Democracy Now! — Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016

Posted by Planet Waves


Fifty years after the founding of the Black Panther Party, today’s show focuses on an overlooked part of its history: political prisoners.

Planet Waves FM Edition 300: Walking the Walk

Posted by Eric Francis


For tonight’s program — the 300th edition of Planet Waves FM — we pay tribute to two men who have walked the walk: Tom Hayden, the father of many activist movements, who left the planet Sunday; and Neil Young, who still roams and plays his guitar among us.