WNYC recently shared some Cold War-era broadcasts intended as public education in civilian defense. One particular broadcast from December 13, 1962 announced an atomic bomb that was supposedly dropped on Crotona Park in the Bronx, and included an interview with a real New York City fire marshall who describes being on the scene of the disaster. This accompanying faux newspaper was actually a call to action to join the local civil defense office. “Civil Defense Needs You! “Enroll Now at Your Local Office,” it reads at the bottom.
As the WNYC directors of archives write, “At turns frightening and hopelessly quaint, the various civilian defense broadcasts present as powerful an image of the cold-war mindset as any, including brutal assessments of citizen’s responsibilities for their own survival in the US and other countries.”
Thankfully the Bronx atomic bomb isn’t a true story, but there’s a long history of New Yorkers being the target of fear-mongering practices. Take the “Welcome to Fear City” pamphlets for example (read on for more about the Anti-Tourist Guide from the 1970s.)