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The one-hour program began with the theme music for the Mercury Theatre on the Air and an announcement that the evening's show was an adaptation of The War of the Worlds. Orson Welles then read a prologue which was closely based on the opening of H. G. Wells's novel modified slightly to move the story's setting to 1939. For about the next twenty minutes, the broadcast was presented as a typical evening of radio programming being interrupted by a series of news bulletins. The first few news flashes occur during a presentation of "live" music and describe a series of odd explosions observed on Mars, followed by a seemingly unrelated report of an unusual object falling on a farm in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. The musical program returns briefly before being interrupted by a live report from Grover's Mill, where police officials and a crowd of curious onlookers have surrounded the strange cylindrical object that fell from the sky. The situation escalates when Martians emerge from the cylinder and attack using a heat-ray, which the panicked reporter at the scene describes until his audio feed abruptly goes dead. This is followed by a rapid series of increasingly alarming news updates detailing a devastating alien invasion taking place around the country and the futile efforts of the U.S. military to stop it. The first portion of the show climaxes with another live report from a Manhattan rooftop as giant Martian war machines release clouds of poisonous smoke across New York City. The reporter mentions in passing that Martian cylinders have landed all over the world as he describes desperate New Yorkers fleeing and "dropping like flies", the smoke inexorably approaching his location. Eventually he coughs and falls silent, and a lone ham radio operator is heard mournfully calling "Is there anyone on the air? Isn't there... anyone?" with no response. Only then did the program take its first break, a full thirty-eight minutes after Welles's introduction.

War of The Worlds