1938 Pilot Radio and The War of the Worlds

Orson Welles

Orson Welles (Photo credit: dahlia.delilah)

If you were going to listen to Orson Welles narrating H G Wells’ War of the Worlds, there can be no better way than on a 1938 Pilot Radio.


On October 30th the year this radio was made,  Orson Welles narrated his version of  War Of The Worlds.  The most part of the 60-minute broadcast was presented as a series of news bulletins with no breaks for commercials. “Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At twenty minutes before eight, Central Time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving towards the Earth with enormous velocity…” Many radio listeners were duped into believing that they really were listening to an alien invasion by Martians.


A public outrage ensued and Orson Welles was forced to apologise for terrorising the nation but he had made his mark..

war of the worlds   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs0K4ApWl4g

I’ve been listening along whilst working on the magnificent figured walnut cabinet of the mighty Pilot Model BTC 530.  This is another extremely rare radio.  Despite a thorough search, I’ve been unable to turn up any evidence of another of this model, only an advertisement, extolling its virtues.  In the next day or two I’ll be able to show you just how well it’s turned out.   I might just listen to Jeff Wayne’s version next.

pilot radio advert

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