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What Were They Thinking?

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To get some insight into what would make a person want to fool their audience, we talk to Daniel Myrick. Myrick, with Eduardo Sanchez, made a film called "The Blair Witch Project," which terrified its way to cult success and convinced a few people to never go camping again. We also talk with Jason Loviglio, a media historian, about how the soothing tone of FDR’s fireside chats, mirrored in the wartime reporting of Edward R. Murrow may have been the true target of Orson Welles’ adaptation of War of the Worlds. And in an ironic twist, the news media fully embraces Orson Welles greatest insight into broadcasting. It’s a truth so terrifying you won’t want to miss it: if the audience is scared, they will keep listening.


Jason Loviglio and Daniel Myrick

Comments [7]

Ron from New York

Memories of that infamous "War of the Worlds" night in 1938 from one child's POV --

Nov. 01 2014 03:03 PM

I was taken in by the "based on a true story" at the beginning of Fargo and cried for a while after I saw the movie.

Oct. 26 2013 05:55 PM
rev dak

I thought for sure that the Live Audience was staged. I guess not.

Mar. 24 2009 04:09 PM
Rick Schmitz from SF Bay Area

We are coming up on the 70th anniversary of the broadcast, and there is a troupe of performers in SF who are planning on re-creating the broadcast once again...

Aug. 09 2008 10:58 AM
Jason Loviglio from Baltimore

I was lucky enough to be interviewed for this program. Just want to say that I don't think
Orson Welles failed to wise us all up. I think
he was pretty ambivalent about the power to
deceive that was so central to radio (and theater and mass culture and mass politics). Michael Denning's The Cultural Front is a great source for more on this. For more on FDR's rhetorical ability to scare and reassure, see Edward Miller's Emergency Broadcasting and 1930s American Radio. For more on how regular people responded to those broadcasts see my own Radio's Intimate Public.

Apr. 10 2008 11:16 PM
Bethany from Los Angeles, CA

Yeah - I get it, but the end of the show still really bugs me.

Apr. 07 2008 11:31 PM
Sara Bowman from Oxford, UK

You hit the nail on the head! I am an American living in the UK as a student. Every time I return to the States to visit I am stunned, and frankly revolted, with the way news networks sensationalize, manipulate and dramatize the news. May I boldly say that their fear tactics have changed the way we Americans raise our children and live. We are encouraged to have irrational and fear-based opinions and reactions to current events. Networks are so keen on winning the most viewers each night that they will allow any story to cross the airwaves whether it is News or simply just gossip. I appreciate the way the UK networks BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Five leave the cinema-quality graphics and movie-announcer voice-overs behind and plainly report on the news. Sadly, the entertainment quality of 'War of the Worlds' has seeped into the quality of our daily news reporting.

Apr. 06 2008 11:48 AM

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