18 September 2009

The Ghost-Grey Cat Presents: (1) Separating generations

As I composed the first draft for this post, some research reminded me that another piece of CBS history is being made today.  The Guiding Light, the longest scripted series ever, will close its run after 72 years on both radio and television.  The radio episodes alone (almost two decades' worth) accounted for more air time than CBS Radio Mystery Theater, itself one of the longest running radio fiction series ever.

Nevertheless, RMT made an impressive run--1,399 episodes aired over 2,969 nights--all long after scripted network radio supposedly died.  The show even did well enough to enjoy rerun-based revivals in 1989 and 1998.  As it turns out, however, the end of RMT in 1982 did, indeed, spell the death of scripted radio, at least on the fiction side.

For some of us, the show didn't always leave us with the "pleasant dreams" host E.G. Marshall (and his successor, Tammy Grimes) wished us, but they did leave happy memories. Fans of all ages curled up with their little transistor radios at night, listening to RMT episodes when they were supposed to be sleeping.

Those memories make RMT a rather useful tool for separating the generations. RMT's youngest fans--including me--were grade-schoolers when its episodes first aired in 1974, and teenagers at the end of the show's run. Older fans were part of the Baby Boom or earlier generations; those too young to remember RMT belong to Generation X.  But we, the youngest RMT fans in the 1970s, don't fit easily in either category.

Back to The Guiding Light, which everyone remembers but, apparently, no one watches.  Any show that takes more than seven decades to finally lose its audience had to be doing something right.  Nice run.


Matty Boy said...

One of my favorite little touches was E.G. Marshall's correctly pronouncing "Anheuser-Busch".

Abu Scooter said...

Marshall's delivery was critical to CBSRMT's success, as I'll argue in a full post. For now, it's worth pointing out that he probably got his diction from his upbringing in Minnesota.