The 401st Blow :: Thoughts On Media

What’s Old Is New (And Now It’s Gone)

Posted in Television by Noah Harlan on September 18, 2009

Today marks the end of an era. It may not have been an era you cared about, and you may not know it ended, but it deserves acknowledgement.

On January 25th, 1937 a 15-minute radio play debuted on NBC radio. Ten years later that show moved to CBS radio and on June 30th, 1952 it moved to CBS television. The show would be broadcast on CBS from then until today – September 18, 2009, when the last episode aired. The show wasGuiding Light and it was the longest running drama in broadcast history with an astounding 72 years on television.

The following actors all had roles on Guiding Light over the years (to name a few):

Kevin Bacon, Tammy Blanchard, Ruby Dee, Taye Diggs, Calista Flockhart, Allison Janney, James Earl Jones, Melina Kanakaredes, James Lipton, Hayden Panettiere, Jimmy Smits, Mira Sorvino, Christopher Walker and Billy Dee Williams.

On a personal note, the very first job I got in film was on a sister soap opera, Another World. I got an interview for that job courtesy of the father of a friend who is a legend in daytime and at that point was the Executive Producer of Guiding Light (I believe it was his second stint as EP there) and I have always had a warm feeling about the show because of that (though I was not a daytime soap watcher).

What’s interesting for us today is to note that Guiding Light (and Another World and As The World Turns) was owned and produced by Proctor & Gamble. It was, and remained until today, the original branded content. Branded content is not new, it is, in fact, very old.

You may not have watched it and it may not have been what you would make, but the idea of a show staying on the airwaves (or on the wires) for nearly three quarters of a century is an astounding accomplishment.

Congratulations to them.

Update:

Guiding Light was apparently groundbreaking in transmedia as well! Not only was it on radio and television but there was a graphic novel tie-in by Marvel featuring the cast of the show teaming up with The Avengers. (hat tip: DKO)

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