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Radio Soap Operas!


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Does anyone else have any interest in the old radio soaps? As a teen, before youtube, or even ABC's Daytime to Remember, I discovered the only way to get access to old soaps was that my library had records (!) of some radio soaps among their large old time radio collection. I made a copy on casette--and recently found the three, one was a collection of random soaps (had an episode of Guiding Light from 1939, Ma Perkings, Young Dr Malone and Road of Life) and a complete 4 episode run of Guiding Light from 1951 and Right to Happiness from the same time. Even back then, I could tell the Irna Phillips soaps were vastly different from the other popular ones (like the Hummert's who did Ma Perkins)--domestic, character based stuff instead of fantastic adventures (on Stella Dallas, Stella once tracked down her daughter, kindapped by a sheik, across a desert, stopping midway for a submarine trip!).

Anyway, both Guiding Light and its spin off Right to Happiness, surprisingly still make pretty satisfying listens--you get what the appeal was insantly, eavesdropping on these conversations. Guiding Light has a complete run of 100 episodes that was saved, but annoyingly they're from the recordings the studio made to send to stations in other time zones and so are missing the organ music (it would be added in live) which leaves odd blank spaces. Still, it's pretty fascinating (and was when Irna was writing still--the famous Meta Bauer story where her son is killed in an accident and she kills his dad). I got a disc with all 100 episodes as mp3s for $5.00 from an old time radio site, but I see you can download nearly all of them from archive.org as they are in the public domain. http://www.archive.org/details/otr_guidinglight

Does anyone else have any interest in these? Howabout more modern radio soaps--the BBC has ran The Archers since the 50s, it's their highest rated non music based radio show!

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A few years ago I remember listening to a couple of GL episodes from 1950 I believe where Bill Bauer was developing his drinking problem over stress and people were beginning to take notice. I remember the sound of Bill pouring liquor into a glass it was extremely mesmerizing and haunting.

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What was the appeal? tongue.gif

lol I guess it was the first time I ever had followed a radio serial.... plus some of the stories just happened to capture my imagination. I don't remember them anymore, though laugh.gif A couple of years after I stopped, I tried listening again, but found it excruciatingly boring, so maybe I ran into a good era?

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I am interested in the radio soaps,especially the writers and actors who began in radio and made the transition.

The Hummerts were huge in radio but didn't transition to tv-their fantasy style of soap didn't suit the new medium.

Eric,I do have some story synopses of Right to Happiness and Brighter Day if you're at all interested.

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Sure, I'd love to be able to "place" the four eps of Right to Happiness I have date wise...

Haven't tracked down any BD--I wonder if much is out there?

The Hummerts soaps certainly haven't aged well--as Agnes Nixon said in one of her seminars they were about plot, there was no character to anyone on them really (and they were increidbly over the top fantastical--almost like a housewife version of the kids' adventure serials). Agnes does think that Elaine Carrington's work was up there with Irna's--I'm not sure I've heard any of her stuff (she tried one tv soap I believe that flopped).

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Some Right to Happiness stories from 58-60.

Craig Chalmers,briefly Carolyn's suitor,had lived with his obsessively devoted sister Linda. After he married Carolyn's sister in law Debby Nelson,Linda tried to break up their home and even kidnapped their baby.

Sharon Graham and her older devoted friend Harriet(played by Abby Lewis,recently Ada on Road of Life)entered the picture. Sharon was one of those ambiguous,now you hate her,now you don't characters,who may have been intended to be the show's second heroine.She flirted with Lee and tried to steal the research of scientist Alex Thorne who had become Carolyn's umpteenth boyfriend.Thorne was played by Lyle Sudrow,for many years TGL's Bill Bauer.He had yet another meddling sister Helen,played by Elizabeth Laurence,until lately Francie on Road of Life)

Carolyn's neighbour Janet discovered her husband Jerry was having an affair with his secretary Gretchen.

During a storm,Alex was hit by a speeding car.Sharon was a suspect.Noble Carolyn defended her arch enemy discovering the real culprit to be Skip's friend Nick Braden.

As the serial ended,the McDonalds became entangled with the Bradens,particularly mother Anne,who was an early study in parental frustration.

During the serials CBS run,the show's length was cut to just 10 minutes.Writer John M Young managed to keep 2 storylines going.

Carolyn was a hostile ,aggressive mother who objected when Skip started dating working class Grace Driscoll.Radio great Betty Garde portrayed the Thelma Ritter type mother Edna.

John Larkin was Carolyn's 3rd husband Lee,later played by Kevin McCarthy and Les Damon

Sharon Graham was played by Clair Niesen,the heroine of the cancelled Backstage Wife.

Claudia Morgan played Carolyn from 43-60.

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What time of day did the radio soaps air at? It seems to me that in the 50's both NBC and CBS scheduled their soaps not until mid-late afternoon. In fact NBC aired Irna's These Are My Children from 5PM-5:15PM. So can I assume radio soaps aired in the late afternoon hours?

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