On Sunday, October 30, 1938, millions of radio listeners were shocked when radio news alerts announced the arrival of Martians. The broadcast was the first electronic mass media “psy-op” the social research project indirectly funded by the Rockefeller Foundation by means of the “The Princeton Radio Project”. The idea of using an interrupting news bulletin in the middle of what seems normal radio programming was deem excessively cruel, manipulative, and deceptive. The timing of the news bulletin by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air in The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells plays the into the psychology of the audience. Are people still falling for the lie?
To convince so many people that space invaders landed is the authentic task of the psy-op. First thing is understand is that many listeners had been listening to their favorite program the “Chase and Sanborn Hour“. Then turned the dial, like they did every Sunday, during the musical section of the “Chase and Sanborn Hour” around 8:12 pm. Then turn back to the “Chase and Sanborn Hour” when they thought the musical section of the program was over. On this particular evening, they were shocked to hear another station carrying news alerts warning of an invasion of Martians attacking Earth (many thought it was a German invasion). Not hearing the introduction of the play and listening to the authoritative and real sounding commentary and interviews, many believed it to be real.
All across the United States, listeners reacted. Thousands of people called radio stations, police, and newspapers. Many in the New England area loaded up their cars and fled their homes. In other areas, people went to churches to pray. Many people were hysterical. They thought the end was near. Hours after the program had ended and listeners had realized that the Martian invasion was not real, the public was outraged that Orson Welles had tried to fool them. Many people sued. Others wondered if Welles had caused the panic on purpose – yes. The power of radio had fooled the listeners. They had become accustomed to believing everything they heard on the radio, without questioning it. Now they had learned – the hard way. Today’s modern news networks mirror the same activities. Hardly a day goes by when society is not subject to some psychological news bulletin.
Are the fundamental findings from “The Princeton Radio Project” still to controlling society? First, consider Dr. Stanton and sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld. They invented the “program analyzer” while at the Princeton Radio Project. By 1938, Dr. Stanton had become CBS’s research director with a staff of 100. With the social scientist Paul F. Lazarsfeld, he invented a device called the program analyzer, which enabled CBS to track the responses of 100 listeners to a radio program, gauging their likes and dislikes. Paul Lazarsfeld and Frank Stanton developed the Program Analyzer as a way to record viewer reactions as they were happening.
Lazarsfeld first experimented with recording reactions in real time back in Vienna. Stanton, as head of audience research for CBS, had created a machine for recording the size of radio audiences. During a conversation together in the late 1930’s Lazarsfeld and Stanton swapped stories and decided to pursue inventing a mechanical recording device for gauging audience reactions. Although it went through several versions, the final one accommodated twelve people, each of whom was placed in front of two buttons, a green, and a red one. They were instructed to push the green button for positive reactions and the red for negative reactions. Each button was connected to a pen, which marked the reactions on recording paper, which flowed in time with the program. The unwieldy machine sometimes gave an electrical shock to those who operated it but allowed researchers to determine what specific moment in a program a listener liked or disliked. With that information in hand, researchers would then follow up with focus interview questions to probe more deeply. This was the origin of the focused group interview, which would circulate from social science into advertising then become known as a focus group.
In the fall of 1937, Paul Lazarsfeld offered sociologist Theodor Adorno his first job in the U.S. with the Princeton Radio Project he was directorship of the musical part of the Princeton Radio Project. Adorno is fundamental to the discovery of how to use music and advertising to control your social thinking. Adorno found when a popular song was “plugged” repeatedly a familiar pattern is recalled in the mind. This familiar pattern replaces thinking. With just a few musical notes of a jingle, people react like the sound of dog food hitting the bowl, advertisers could produce the desired effect: “Oh, there’s my favorite show, I better stop what I’m doing, and come listen to my show”. Thinking is reduced to recall! Ironically, Ernst Kris and Hans Speiers came to a similar conclusion about Nazi radio: that simplification and repetition were essential to radio propaganda. He also saw how popular songs were mysteriously transformed into fetishized commodities. Adorno thought commercial radio used “standardized” pop music to turn individuals into Pavlov’s consumer dogs! No longer able to recognize real music, listeners accepted what was given to them, a watered down music.
Adorno saw Radio Music as a means of social control.
“Popular music is objectively untrue and helps to maim the consciousness of those exposed to it.”
One of his central arguments was that music affected consciousness and was a means of social management and control. Adorno accepted Freud’s viewpoint that sexuality was socially controlled, and took it to another level. Adorno theorized that music, like sexuality, was both socially controlled and was a means of social control. He argued that “standardized” pop music is not music, but is mistaken for music. Adorno made this point about American radio music around WW II. Music made individuals vulnerable to capture by whatever was ‘served up’ to them by their masters—as long as it was laced with the appropriate jiggle. Whereas ‘true’ music taught its listener how to perceive illogic—contradiction—through its challenge to critical faculties, ‘false’ music taught the listener how to relax and enjoy, and how to take pleasure in reliability, in repetition of fetishized objects they taught the skill of how to adapt to and enjoy what was given.
In the very near future, will the globalist of the world convince you of an alien invasion similar to the psychological operation of the famous Orson Wells radio address “The World of the Wars”? In 1938 listeners tuned in to what they thought was a real invasion. Are you condition to believe? In the Controlling the Masses series we will answer that question.