LOS ANGELES, Oct. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A groundbreaking radio biography set to air on the 73rd anniversary of the infamous WAR OF THE WORLDS Martian hoax is bringing a wealth of rare broadcast recordings by legendary CITIZEN KANE filmmaker Orson Welles back to the airwaves -- many for the first time in over 60 years.
AIRBORNE: A LIFE IN RADIO WITH ORSON WELLES is a new, full-length work by documentarian R. H. Greene. The show will air twice in Los Angeles over the 2011 Halloween weekend via 89.3 KPCC (89.3 FM), one of the nation's premiere news stations. A special podcast edition of the program, with 20 minutes of additional material, will be posted to the KPCC website at http://www.kpcc.org/programs/offramp/
that same week.
According to Greene, Welles' vast body of radio work has been reduced in public memory to his single 1937-38 season voicing the popular radio superhero THE SHADOW and to Welles' legendary broadcast of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, a docudrama adaptation of the H. G. Wells "Martian invasion" classic that caused widespread panic when it first aired as a Halloween prank in 1938. Culled from over 400 vintage radio recordings, Greene's new documentary showcases the eclectic nature of Welles' radio achievements.
"The War of the Worlds was fantastic radio," Greene says, "which is why it's still revived on dozens of stations every Halloween. But few people know that Welles also pursued careers as a radio comedian, a wartime propagandist, and a serious political commentator over the air, or that his American radio career ended with a heroic act of great personal sacrifice.
"It's a great American story, one I've always felt was hiding in plain sight -- neglected, I think, because of the hectic nature of Welles' radio experiments and because the world of radio's 'golden age' is so remote to us today."
AIRBORNE will run twice as a special full-length edition of KPCC's OFF-RAMP, a weekly magazine show hosted by John Rabe. The Welles documentary airs both at noon on Saturday, October 29th and at 7pm on Sunday, October 30th. Sunday's rebroadcast marks THE WAR OF THE WORLDS' 73rd birthday.
The special podcast edition of AIRBORNE features additional vintage radio clips plus dramatic readings from Welles' secret FBI file and other rare documents.
Primarily a film documentarian, Greene views AIRBORNE as the first step in an ongoing process. "I'd like to tell this story again," he says, "because it's so interesting to me. Maybe for the screen, or in an even more elaborate broadcast version. But AIRBORNE is complete in itself. You get to hear Welles sing with Carmen Miranda, joke with Jack Benny, step fearlessly into political controversies. It showcases a bunch of unknown sides to an American legend. And bringing Welles back to radio in a unique way on the WAR OF THE WORLDS anniversary -- well, it means a lot to me."