Turner Doomsday VideoADDPMP474
“Turner Doomsday Video” is the internal title of a video intended to be broadcast by CNN at the end of the world. The video, created at the direction of CNN founder Ted Turner before the network’s 1980 launch, is a performance of the Christian hymn “Nearer My God To Thee” performed by multiple members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine bands.
The recording was made right after “The Star-Spangled Banner” was recorded for CNN’s sign-on. After they recorded it, Turner asked if they would record a song just in case the world came to an end.
At CNN’s launch, Ted Turner declared, “Barring satellite problems, we won’t be signing off until the world ends.”
We’ll be on, and we will cover it [the end of the world] live, and that will be our last, last event. We’ll play the National Anthem only one time, on the first of June, and when the end of the world comes, we’ll play “Nearer My God To Thee” before we sign off.
The video is in standard definition and the 4:3 aspect ratio in use at the time of its production.
Rumors of the video have existed as early as 1988, when The New Yorker published an article describing it. However, the video did not become available to the public until 2015, when a writer for Jalopnik revealed a copy of the video that he had recorded during a 2009 internship.
In the 1990 comedy film Gremlins 2: The New Batch, the character Daniel Clamp has a similar “end of civilization” video ready to air on his news network. After the leak of the CNN video, director Joe Dante joked, “I think ours was better.”
In response to the leak, National Public Radio undertook a search of their archives for similar recordings, and “found” one, an excerpt of which was broadcast in the January 10, 2015 edition of Weekend Edition. The excerpt is of Robert Siegel (as identified in the transcript, since the speaker in the recording quips, “I’m - well, who cares? I won’t be for long.”) announcing special coverage of the end of the world (specifically one from an imminent asteroid impact). In the recording, Siegel announces the approach of the asteroid, confidently remarks that NPR would have the best analysis of the impact the day after, and assures listeners that they can still become members of their local public radio station.