No, this isn’t a story of Orson Welles’ infamous War of the Worlds broadcast from 1938. This happened THIS WEEK.
Star 94.9 in Tuscumbia had ratings issues. It was time to change format. But how could the station get people to pay attention to the new sound?
The plan was to build suspense for the format flip by running a series of on-air promos that began Monday. The message was that aliens had taken over the station’s frequency and were trying to figure out what sort of music would be most appealing to humans. That’s it.
To review: A Top 40 station, about to change format, runs fake promos saying that aliens are now in control of the station and are looking for the best way to service humanity’s music needs.
Somehow, though, rumours started spiralling out of control. By sometime Tuesday, the whole town was abuzz with stories urging parents needed to keep their kids home from school because schools were about to be attacked with bombs and other weapons.
None of these rumours came from Star 94.9. They just kept running their goofy alien promo.
Law enforcement officials were beseiged with phone calls from frightened parents. Just in case, they stepped up patrols around the schools. Absenteeism spiked.
Needless to stay, aliens did not land nor did any bombs go off in any area schools. Flummoxed parents are now blaming the radio station for staging a terrible hoax, calling it bad taste in an era where there’s heightened sensitivity to school violence.
Really, people? Really?