American Archives Month: We Interrupt This Program….

Episode Air Date: October 26, 2020
Artist: WSYR Staff
Recording Title: Civil Defense Attack Warning

In 1967, WSYR in Syracuse, NY issued the following message, an interruption to their scheduled broadcast:

You’re on the Sound Beat.

“We interrupt this program. The Office of Civil Defense has issued the following message: This is an attack warning. Repeat. This is an attack warning. Attack warning means that an actual attack against this country has been detected and that protective actions should be taken. Important instructions will follow in 30 seconds.”

Ok, quickly then…This recording comes to us from the WSYR collection at the Special Collection Research Center here at the Syracuse University Libraries. Much like the famed Mercury Theatre on the Air “The War of the Worlds” Halloween broadcast of 1938, this warning was merely a test and did not reflect an actual state of emergency. In both cases, raising alarm, even false alarm, incited people to pay attention and take notice in a way that they might not have otherwise.

“This station has interrupted its regularly scheduled programming at the request of the United States Government to participate in the Emergency Broadcast System serving Operational Area G, including Onondaga, Cayuga…”

This is a small excerpt of the excellent SCRC Blog, edited by Grace Wagner. All this week they’re celebrating American Archives month at library-blog.syr.edu/scrc/.

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