LaHistory: War Of The Worlds

Yesterday marked the 79th anniversary (Oct. 30, 1938) of the infamous “War of the Worlds” live broadcast, when actor Orson Welles sent America into an overnight frenzy when listeners mistook the reading of H.G. Wells’ fiction for a real-life alien attack.

It turns out that the broadcast had ties to Louisiana — beyond just the flood of panicked phone calls that Lake Charles residents made to police.

David Kent, before he owned The Louisiana Hayride, played the radio reporter on the live show announcing a spaceship landing in New Jersey.

Upon Welles’ death in 1985, Kent talked to The Shreveport Times about the mayhem-making acting gig he scored at 15 years old:

It was just magnificently produced. We didn't have the foggiest idea that people would react the way they did. The drama unfolded in about 35 minutes. There was no way Martians could have landed, Congress gone into session and the Army run here and there in 35 minutes of reality. But people got so caught up in it. Some people living along the East Coast evacuated. In Shreveport, listeners who heard the broadcast over KWKH flooded the station and The Times with more than 100 calls, according to an article in The Times the next day.

Kent reportedly played the Grovers Mill correspondent, making an appearance about six minutes into the audio recording.

Listen here:

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