Monday, December 15, 2008

Radio hoax scares Croatia’s capital with reports about aliens, Orson Welles-style

Radio Hoax Scares Croatia’s Capital with Reports about Aliens, Orson Welles-Style

12 December 2008 | Radio reports about an unidentified flying object about to land in Zagreb on Wednesday gave the Croatian capital’s residents a scare and angered authorities.

The Croatian radio station Antenna caused chaos in Zagreb on the morning of December 9 with a report about a bright spot of light moving in the sky over the capital and fake testimonies of witnesses observing the phenomenon.

Zagreb’s residents - worried and scared, immediately started to call relatives, the municipality, the police and the fire department, the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency and the Russian ITAR-TASS news agency reported recently.

The hoax was a kind of a repeat of the radio play The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells, adapted by Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre group and narrated by Welles himself. Written and performed to sound like a real news broadcast about an invasion from Mars, when it aired in the US in 1938, thousands of people panicked and flooded newspapers, radio and police stations with calls and inquiries on how to protect themselves. In retrospect, the hoax is seen as having tested successfully and authentically how radio worked in an emergency.

The Croatian radio journalists admitted only around noon that their report was a joke, aimed at ridiculing Mayor Milan Bandić’s plans to turn Zagreb into a police stronghold. Bandić intended to supply the police with a helicopter, an unmanned flying device, an armoured car and other special instruments, as well as to build a fortified command centre. The journalists behind the joke had decided to test the authorities by faking a Martian attack on the air.

It seems that the joke angered police authorities, who said today that they will file a complaint against the responsible journalists for disturbing public order and spreading false information.


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