'Guiding Light' to flicker out after 72 years on radio, TV

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


The seemingly eternal flame of the American soap opera Guiding Light has been extinguished. CBS, the network which airs the serial drama in the United States, has announced its cancellation after 72 years.

Guiding Light, which entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running dramatic series in the world, started on radio in 1937 as a series of stories about faith, in which characters beset with troubles would talk to trusted Reverend Ruthledge, the keeper of "the guiding light" which shone from his window. Over the years, the theme of "the guiding light" became more muted and the series shifted focus to a middle-class German immigrant family, the Bauers. The show has been produced on television and seen nearly every weekday since June 30, 1952.

Popular with television viewers in the 1950s and 1960s, Guiding Light fell on hard times, becoming the lowest-rated soap opera on American television in 2007. In an effort to save costs last year, Procter & Gamble Productions, the company formerly in charge of production, instituted cost-saving measures which included scrapping more expensive set designs and getting rid of the industry standard three-camera taping technique, replacing them with portable cameras.

The cancellation comes in part due to the economic downturn and partly due to viewing habits among women. Many women in the target demographic Guiding Light hoped to court are now working during the afternoon, something that wasn't as prevalent even a generation ago. TeleNext Media, the current production company, while parting ways with CBS, are not ruling out a cost-effective way to keep the show afloat either as an online venture or on another television channel.

When contacted by Wikinews, Guiding Light publicist Meredith Tiger forwarded a statement prepared by Barbara Bloom, Senior Vice President of Daytime Programs at CBS. "No show in daytime or prime time, or anytime, has touched so many millions of viewers across so many years as Guiding Light," Bloom said. "We thank the cast, crew and producers – past and present – who delivered this entertainment institution, the beloved characters and the time-honored stories to our audience every day for seven decades. It's been a privilege to work with such an extraordinarily talented group of people."

The final episode of Guiding Light is expected to air on Friday, September 18.


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.