It's easy to think back on that whole Orson Wells War of the Worlds thing and think to yourself: "That could never happen today, not in a world with internet, and where everybody knows about that one time it happened already." Well, you'd be wrong.
Last week, Star 94.9 in Alabama began running a series of radio spots intended to ready listeners for a format change. The pitch? Aliens. Naturally.
Brian Rickman, program director for Shoals Radio Group—which owns Star 94.9—explained the plan to AL this way:
We came up with what we thought was a really fun storyline and that would be that these aliens or star people were hacking into the radio station. The concept being that they heard our frequency several light years away, they didn't like Justin Bieber and the pop music we were playing and they were going to take over the radio station and adjust the format.
We thought it was clever.
Maybe too clever. That's right, people got scared. Well, kids mostly. It seems that the messages riled up some area children, and the resulting game of social-media-telephone distorted the nature of these "threats" until, eventually, Rickman found himself getting phone calls from from police and school superintendents. Presumably the part about "aliens on the radio" got lost in the shuffle.
Sharing the actual messages with authorities cleared most everything up, but yesterday morning, law enforcement opted to beef up some schools' security anyway, in preparation for the aliens 9 AM takeover.
It looks like despite the internet—or because of it—rumors about alien invasions being reported and/or announced on the radio can get blown way out of proportion just like the good old days. Some things never change. [AL]