So basically, if you get the right story together, with the right audience, and the right minds behind the scenes putting it all together, you can get something truly special.
However, put the story in the hands of a shameless self-promoter with an evil grand scheme for publicity and, well, you get something people are still talking about 70-some-odd years later..
Instead of creating a straight adaptation of Wells' novel, Welles (this is going to get confusing) created something of a primitive found-footage style horror story, starting off the broadcast by pretending to be a show of dance music with periodic interruptions for news about strange happenings on the surface of Mars. Soon enough, the broadcast switches to a live remote about a strange object from the stars having fallen on the (real) small town of Grover's Mill, New Jersey. People are brought to the scene to report on this incident, and soon things start getting scary. It's clear that the object is no mere meteor, and soon something horrible emerges from it.
I'd give away more details, but I honestly think that this portion of the broadcast speaks for itself. I've embedded a copy of it below, don't feel obligated to listen to the whole thing, but please, if you have a few minutes, check out approximately minutes 13:00-18:30 for what are possibly five of the creepiest minutes of audio ever recorded.
Orson Welles was a master of showmanship. From his attempts at making this ludicrous story sound real, to timing the initial attack for the end of the most popular show on radio the next network over (when people would be changing their dials around), to his delightfully disingenuous apology after the fact ("don't believe everything you hear on radio"), he made the War of the Worlds into a fictional event whose power is yet to be rivaled and is still played on Halloween to this day. In doing so, he ensured himself a career as one of cinema's most decorated filmmakers, and as one of the world's greatest spokesmen for frozen peas.
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-- Matt Carter
(We know there's a lot of Matt Carter's online you could spend your time with, so thanks for hanging around this one!)