'Guiding Light' ending after 72 years

CBS soap opera's last show will air in the fall

CBS is canceling daytime soap "Guiding Light," the longest-running drama on TV.

The network is ending the show after 72 years and more than 15,700 episodes on television and radio. The series will broadcast its final episode on Friday, Sept. 18.

" 'Guiding Light' has achieved a piece of television history that will never be matched; it has crossed mediums, adapted its stories to decades of social change and woven its way through generations of audiences like no other," said Nancy Tellem, president of CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group. "This daytime icon will always be an indelible part of CBS' history, with a legacy of innovation and reputation for quality and excellence at every step of the way."

"Light" launched as a 15-minute network program in 1952, expanded to 30 minutes in 1968, then went to an hour in 1977. The program is billed as TV's longest-running "drama." ("Meet the Press" debuted in 1947, so the news program aired longer on television even though "Light" predated "Press" as an entertainment program.)

In recent years, "Light" and partner "As the World Turns" have become a drag on the ratings ticket in CBS' daytime lineup, which has found higher ratings with less-expensive syndicated fare such as "Judge Judy" and "The Dr. Phil Show." Two years ago, CBS worked with producers of both shows to try to modernize the "Light" production process while cutting costs, using smaller crews shooting with nimble digital cameras.

CBS has not yet announced what will replace "Light" but already there is scuttlebutt that simmering projects, including talkers with Valerie Bertinelli, Leah Remini or T.D. Jakes as well as revamped quizzer "Pyramid," are being considered for the daytime slot.

"No show in daytime or primetime, or anytime, has touched so many millions of viewers across so many years as 'Guiding Light,' " said Barbara Bloom, senior vp daytime programs at CBS. "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."

The radio show's original story line centered on minister Rev. John Ruthledge and the fictional Chicago suburb Five Points. Today's show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and revolves around several families.

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