Clarion Broadcasting General Manager Jessica Pokrandt, left, and Broadcast Producer Leigh Strommen led the group’s effort to create a Madison College version of Orson Welles “War of the Worlds” radio show. (Adrienne Oliva/Clarion)
Clarion Broadcasting General Manager Jessica Pokrandt, left, and Broadcast Producer Leigh Strommen led the group’s effort to create a Madison College version of Orson Welles “War of the Worlds” radio show.

Adrienne Oliva/Clarion

Clarion radio takes on ‘War of the Worlds’

Students give classic broadcast a distinct Madison College twist

October 24, 2017

Breaking news: Aliens have landed at Madison College in the overflow parking lot.

“I guess because they couldn’t find any place closer,” explains extraterrestrial witness and Clarion broadcast general manager, Jessica Pokrandt.

No, there are no real aliens on campus. This is just the basic premise of Madison College’s radio production of the classic “War of the Worlds.”

The radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds,” based on the book of the same name, was originally produced by Orson Welles and aired in 1938.

In this case, however, the Orson Welles of this modern day broadcast are co-producers Pokrandt and Leigh Strommen. The two have revised the original script of “War of the Worlds” which took place in 1938 New Jersey to take place in 2017 at Madison College.

Jessica Pokrandt, General Manager of Clarion Broadcasting.
Jessica Pokrandt, General Manager of Clarion Broadcasting.

The co-producers were well aware that many people are familiar with “War of the Worlds.” Due to the popularity, they often felt like “if we do this wrong, everyone will know it,” according to Strommen.

This is Strommen’s and Pokrandt’s first big project for Clarion Radio.

As it is the station’s first semester on the air, Pokrandt wanted to take the risk and do something big to commemorate their ability as a station, to show “look, this is something that we as Clarion Radio can do,” Strommen explains.

Though Strommen and Pokrandt anticipated the production to be noteworthy, they did not anticipate how large the project would actually become. As the scale of the project increased, so did the unexpected challenges.

The first challenge was revising the script. Strommen said it was challenging “trying to stay true to the original script while trying also update it … almost 100 years after the original broadcast.”


“Our main goal was to put it in modern time, and set at Madison College. In fact, pretty much every reference talks about Madison College,” said Pokrandt.


Part of the challenge of revising the script not only came from making the script take place at Madison College in 2017, but actually sound like it is taking place here. “We made a couple characters a little bit less grammatically proper, because they talk a (different) way in 1930’s than they do now,” said Strommen.

As time went on, more and more people became involved with the project. What started as a project between three broadcasting students became a project that involved over 20 people from multiple different programs throughout Madison College.

“We got so many people involved. From The Clarion, to the theatre department, just all across the college,” Pokrandt says.

Leigh Strommen, co-producer of the Clarion Radio's "War of the Worlds" remake.
Leigh Strommen, co-producer of the Clarion Radio’s “War of the Worlds” remake.

Though the co-producers were excited by this unexpected engagement from so many people, it also made it a logistic challenge. The co-producers both experienced difficulty planning voice recordings around the different schedules of the cast of over 20 people

Despite the challenges, the co-producers were able to create a “War of the Worlds” production that was uniquely made for Madison College students.

“You should listen in because it’s for you,” explains Strommen. “We joke about how far away the overflow parking lot is, and how weird teachers are sometimes. We’re trying to talk about what ‘War of the Worlds’ would have been like if it happened here instead of just somewhere off in New Jersey.”

“A lot people of who go to Madison College have work really hard on this for the people who go to Madison College,” says Strommen.

To hear the radio broadcast uniquely developed for Madison College students, tune into Clarion radio at every Tuesday and Thursday leading up to the final episode on Halloween. If you missed the broadcast live, you can listen to previous episodes on their YouTube channel, Clarion Broadcasting or from the website.


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