Monday, October 29, 2007

When Art and Science Collide. . .

O, the humanity! Here at the David Sarnoff Library we were gratified to have the Hunterdon Radio Theatre and the New Jersey Antique Radio Club, aided and abetted by the Martian Radio Orchestra, revive the genius of Orson Welles, Howard Koch, and the uncounted inventors, engineers, entrepreneurs, and marketers who made the 1930s the Golden Age of Radio in the United States. On Saturday, October 27, we hosted two shows of War of the Worlds for 250 men, women, and children. Everyone pitched in on the set-up

. . . balancing the voices at the period and contemporary microphones for the best output from the 16.1 monophonic AM surround sound generated by the NJARC's radios.

Before the main event, Howard Moscovitz, Kip Rosser, and Greg Waltzer donned their outré apparel and entranced the early arrivals with two keyboards, a Moog theremin, and electronically treated voices and noises to cast a dramatic mood we won't soon forget!

The matinee found some 30 members of the Encore Monroe retirement community reliving a space-age past! The crowd didn't go wild as the HRT hit the stage, but all enjoyed the theatrics on-stage and the sensations conjured between the ears by the surround sound. What lessons might we draw from the 1938 broadcast and panic? Oh, there are the usual issues of responsibility, by both broadcasters not to transmit an electronic version of "Fire!" in a crowded theatre, and citizens to inform themselves so as not to spread unfounded rumors (or urban or internet legends). And to this balance of power we should keep in mind Melvin Kranzberg's first law of technology: that it is neither good nor bad, but nor is it neutral.

Meanwhile, Library volunteers Sharon Chapman and Vrinda Kaimal were preparing the setting for the evening dessert reception, featuring Tracey's custom cookies, courtesy McCaffrey's Supermarkets

and gourmet coffee, courtesy Grover's Mill Coffee & Tea. We'd show pix, but everyone ate and drank everything before there was time!

A splendid time was had by all, including executive producer Alex Magoun and a small green friend:

So, until Saturday, October 25, 2008, stay tuned!

(photos by Sharon Chapman and Alex Magoun)