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Students recreate iconic broadcast: War of the Worlds

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Seventy-five years ago, the nation was glued to the radio, panicked by the word of an alien invasion.  Shortly thereafter, they knew it was a dramatic recreation of the War of the Worlds, featuring Orson Welles.

Seventy-five years later, a similar localized version played out on air here.

"It kind of caused this sort of mayhem and I don't know to what extent it will do that tonight," said St.Ambrose student Tyler Mitchell.

Students at St.Ambrose University were hoping to recreate some of that fear, but with a little less chaos.

"I definitely think there's some  parts in it that are going to capture your emotions and kind of make you feel scared," said Mitchell.

Around 30 students helped recreate the broadcast which aired for the first time Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at a listening party. Students had only a few weeks to record their lines and create some of the same sound affects heard back in 1938.

"(For) some of them we had to be a little more creative. I know at one point that there were literally people coming in and out, just screaming in order to get some of the proper noises," said Mitchell.

The students localized the updated version of the broadcast to follow the Martians' movement through the Quad Cities on their way to Chicago.

The message of the broadcast is that media can be powerful.

"With Facebook and social media, rumors kind of do spread fast and, while they are easily debunked quickly, they can still spread quickly and people can cause panic," said production specialist Johnna Klossing.

The school was able to get permission from the original writer's wife, who still owns the rights to the play.

If you missed the broadcast, it will air again on November 29, 2013 at 8:00 pm on 88.5 FM.