-2- It’s a Soapy World – History Lesson

It’s time for a history lesson folks.

We will be heading to Brazil next week to take a look at some popular telenovelas, but before we do, I think it would be cool to learn about how soap operas started in North America.

Weirdly enough, they started with soap.Back in the 30’s, there was this thing called the radio. I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but it’s pretty alright. Anyways, it was changing the way people absorbed media at the time.

For the most part, people just listened to the news in the evenings. If it sounds boring, it’s probably because it was. But when things got boring, advertisers realized that the radio was a cash cow waiting to be milked.

It was common in the 30’s that husbands worked and wives stayed at home. Things were different back then, so nobody go and get TRIGGERED. Housewives would cook, clean, and do general housewife business. Advertisers needed to sell household and cleaning products, and housewives used household and cleaning products. Go figure.

Advertisers realized that housewives liked stories of money and glamour, so they got these household and cleaning products to sponsor radio shows that would air daily. Some of these products were soap.

Now hold onto your hat.

Soap + Story = Soap Opera

The genius behind these soaps was that they weren’t episodic. They never left the viewer satisfied. Instead, they left listeners with a cliff hanger ending every damn day, which forced everyone to come back the next day if they wanted to know what happened.

In a way, soap operas created everyone’s least favourite ending – “to be continued…”

And if you think about it, these early radio shows paved the way for virtually all T.V. shows.

Which brings us to radio’s downfall. Boo hiss. Television murdered the radio in cold blood. In the 60’s, most radio soaps died because advertisers realized that the idiot box was the future of advertising. Not only could T.V. shows be sponsored, but they could have actors use the sponsored products during the show too. T.V. killed two birds and a radio with one stone. This left radio ad spots empty, which left radio soaps without money or listeners. No money = no show.

The End.

Here is a link to a radio soap called “Guiding Light”- the longest running soap opera ever.

The best part of this video has to be the soap advertisement at the very start. If only advertising was still this good. I would buy soap until I couldn’t fit any more in my apartment.

And this amazing commercial for Duz…

“Guiding Light” started as a NBC Radio soap in 1937. After it was broadcast on the radio for 15 years, it migrated to T.V. in 1952 where it aired on CBC for 57 years. That’s 72 years of soap opera, over 18,000 episodes, and over 50 head writers.

The best part of this video has to be the soap advertisement at the very start. If only advertising was still this good. I would buy soap until I couldn’t fit any more in my apartment.

Thanks for reading!

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