"Guiding Light," the longest-running soap opera in broadcast history that started on radio nearly 70 years ago, is looking to stay hip with a new generation of fans through podcasting.
Starting Tuesday people who missed the latest trials and tribulations of the Bauers, Spauldings, Reardons, and Lewises can download the 30-minute episodes as podcasts and listen to them on their Apple iPod or other portable media player. The four families who live in the make-believe Midwestern town of Springfield have been the core of the show since the early 1990s.
Ellen Wheeler, executive producer of "Guiding Light" for Procter and Gamble Productions, believes the audio version of the show will take fans closer to the characters. Among the story lines people can follow are, "Tammy asks Jonathan to help her dig up information about Sandy," and "Reva confides in Jonathan about the fight she had with Josh right before the accident."
"People invite these families and actors into their homes five days a week," Wheeler said. "These are people who (fans) know intimately," Wheeler said.
Listening to Reva's confession by podcast during a morning commute will make the experience more memorable, Wheeler said.
"It's just you and your connection to the story," Wheeler said. "It becomes a very rich and enjoyable experience. Listening delivers an entirely different experience."
At least for now, fans or the curious can listen to "Guiding Light" advertising free, but it'll be up to CBS to decide when, and if, that would change.
"We'll live without advertising for awhile, and see what happens," Wheeler said.
Embracing podcasting is recognition of how the number of entertainment channels is increasing. It's no longer just TV and radio, but podcasts, streaming video on the Internet and satellite radio. As a result, Wheeler is looking to get "Guiding Light" into as many formats as possible.
"We're introducing the show to a new generation of people who are getting their entertainment in many, many different arenas," Wheeler said. "We want to offer our show in those other arenas.
"Guiding Light" is the longest soap opera ever told, and the longest running drama in broadcast history, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The program started as an NBC radio serial in January 1937 and moved to CBS as a television series in June 1952.
CBS licenses the show and will make the podcasts available through its "Guiding Light" website. Besides whole episodes, fans will be able to download just 10-minute to 15-minute segments focusing on a single set of characters.