From six-time New York Times bestselling author Joe Garner, and based on his groundbreaking multimedia book, “We Interrupt This Broadcast,” comes a 12-episode, audio docu-series hosted by broadcast legend Bill Kurtis, and narrated by NBC’s Brian Williams. Each episode unfolds with the brisk pace and tone of a thriller while presenting an in-depth look into the reporting of, and reaction to, the extraordinary events that became the benchmarks of the American story. It is said that “breaking news” is the first draft of history. “We Interrupt This Broadcast” marks the first time the stories of these historical broadcast news events are told exclusively by the broadcasters and TV journalists whose work created those drafts in real-time.
Hosted by Bill Kurtis & Narrated by Brian Williams
Created, produced and directed by Joe Garner
Written by Mark Rowland, Brian Williams, Colin Madine, and Joe Garner
Sound engineering and design by Paul Bahr, Peachtree Sound
Additional audio engineering provided by Beowulf Rochlen, Two Squared Media Productions
Website and graphics designed by George Vasilopoulos, 921 Associates
Executive Producers are Brian Williams, Ron Hartenbaum, Scott Calka, and Joe Garner
A very special thank you to Donna LaPietra and Diane Anello
A Production of i4 Media Ventures, LLC
The War of The Worlds: The original ‘deepfake’ of 1938
“War of The Worlds” is a phenomenon of a bygone era, and of a medium a hundred years old, yet its lessons resonate to this day. It’s the original “deepfake of 1938.” A radio drama about an alien invasion but presented as “breaking news,” scared the daylights out the nation. On the evening of October 30, 1938, radio listeners across the U.S. heard a startling report of mysterious creatures and terrifying war machines moving toward New York City. But the hair-raising broadcast was not a real news bulletin—it was Orson Welles' adaptation of the H. G. Wells classic. This episode goes behind the scenes of the making of Welles' famed radio play and its impact. Welles's broadcast became a major scandal, prompting a different kind of mass panic as Americans debated the bewitching power of the radio and the country's vulnerability in a time of crisis. When the debate was over, American broadcasting had changed for good, but not for the better.
Written by Joe Garner and Brian Williams
A.Brad Schwartz, broadcast historian and author of BROADCAST HYSTERIA: Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News (Hill & Wang, May 2015)
The Killing of Lee Harvey Oswald
Pandemonium reigned in downtown Dallas on the afternoon of November 22, 1963. An assassin's bullet had murdered President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Within an hour, police had arrested their lead suspect Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine and accomplished sharpshooter. On Sunday morning, November 24, with TV cameras in place, and NBC airing it live, Oswald was led through the department's basement for transport to the county jail. And, for the first time, the nation watched an historic national news event - as it happened.
Written by Joe Garner and Brian Williams
Gary DeLaune, formally a reporter for KLIF Radio Dallas
Bill Lord, formerly a producer for ABC News
Ike Pappas, formerly a reporter for WNEW Radio New York
Bob Huffaker, formerly a reporter for KRLD Radio and television and the CBS affiliate in Dallas
Fred Rheinstein, formerly the field director for NBC News
Chad Hagan, formerly a producer for NBC News
Homer Vinso, formerly a cameraman for NBC News
The Challenger Disaster
The Space Shuttle Challenger flew nine missions into space. But its fateful tenth mission, which lasted only 73 seconds, ensured its tragic place in history. On the morning of January 28, 1986, a crew of seven boarded the Challenger, including a New Hampshire grade school teacher named Christa McAuliffe, representing the aspirations of so-called ‘ordinary’ citizens to journey into space. It was an adventure vicariously shared by millions of Americans through television, as the Challenger lifted off at 11:38a.m. from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and hurtled majestically into the sky. But less than two minutes later, horror struck in full view of all who watched.
John Zarrella, former CNN Miami Bureau Chief
Tony Clark, former national correspondent for CNN
Beth O’Connell, former coordinator for the NBC Boston Bureau
William Harwood, CBS News space analyst
Steve Nesbitt, the voice of NASA Mission Control
The Freeway Chase of O. J. Simpson
He was an extraordinarily gifted athlete, the premier football player of his time, a California golden child who emerged from abject poverty to win the Heisman trophy in college and set records as a pro football running back. Effortless grace and a ready smile eased his transition from ex-athlete to corporate-backed celebrity. All of that changed on the night of June 13, 1992, when his ex-wife Nicole Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman, were found brutally murdered. Evidence gleaned from the murder site suggested that her executioner may well have been O.J. Simpson. But when police decided to arrest Simpson two days later, an even more surreal tableaux unfolded - live on national television in front of 95-million viewers.
Hannah Zoey Tur, an independent helicopter reporter in Los Angeles.
Carl Stein, video journalist for KCBS, Channel 2 in Los Angeles
Diane Dimond, the investigative crime reporter for the television show Hard Copy
Steve Futterman, Los Angeles-based reporter for CBS News Radio.
Broadcast audio licensed from:
Los Angeles News Service
The Oklahoma City Bombing (April 19, 1995)
On April 19, 1995, two years to the day following the U.S. government’s botched raid on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, a rented truck pulled to the curb in front of the nine story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. Inside the building, about 500 federal employees, and several hundred visitors were beginning their workday. Then, at 9:04 a.m., came the explosion which would alter the American social and political landscape.
Jerry Bohnen, former KTOK News director
David Bohrman, former executive producer of special events for NBC News
Beth O’Connell, former Senior Producer, Today Show
Stewart Dan, former Chicago-based producer, Today Show
Tony Clark, former Dallas Bureau Chief and CNN Correspondent
Trace Ready, former CNN cameraman
Chris Hansen, Investigative news reporter
Stephanie Becker, former Los Angeles-based producer, NBC
Broadcast audio licensed from CNN/WarnerMedia, CBS News, NBC News.
The Hindenburg explosion – “Oh, the Humanity!” – (May 6, 1937)
The Hindenburg was an engineering masterpiece, an airship as large and as grand as the Titanic - and as doomed. On May 6, 1937, a young radio reporter named Herbert Morrison was on hand to record the Hindenburg’s arrival at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Instead, Morrison helped radio to broadcast one of modern history’s great disasters, as it suddenly unfolded in all its terrible glory. But even as Morrison’s eyewitness report chronicled the end of one era, it signaled the beginning of another - an age in which electronic media would routinely report shocking events in the moment that they occurred. In addition to the story of the Hindenburg, this serves as a preview of Season 1.
Broadcast audio courtesy of Marc Garabedian, Mark 56 Records
Contributors: Herbert MorrisonDr. Michael Biel, renowned broadcast historian.Mike Freedman, President of National Press Club, Professor at GWU –Don Hewitt, former CBS News producer (Garner Audio Archive)Aaron Brown, former CNN anchor(Garner Audio Archive)John Montone, former reporter for 1010 WINS Radio, New York
An old guy from CA
Dude, I’d like more podcasts!! Sorry you ended it way too soon. Enjoyed every second of it.
brian williams = national treasure
brian we love your podcast but we need you back on air!!! please come back . . . we need your insights and shade!
I lived through most of the events you’ve covered and it’s fascinating to hear from the media that covered the stories. Hope to see you back on the air soon. As much as I like the podcast, it doesn’t replace your commentary.