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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Pulp Dystopia

Non Pulp Pulp Genres

As of this writing it appears that the pulp era has finally ended.  The two last pulp magazines, True Story and True Confessions, seem to have suspended publication.  The website of their publisher is no longer active to any degree and subscriptions are not being offered.  There is always a chance that publisher True Renditions may come roaring back and if we see any evidence of this, we will report it here.

The pulp era has, of course, been over for a long time.  It still lingers in the present.  The characters, character archetypes and genres first spawned in the pulps are now mainstays of popular culture.  Many of the escapist tropes displayed in movies, television and video games have deep roots dating back to the first flouring of fantastic magazine fiction in the 1890s.  The magazines may be dead, but pulp fiction moves on.

Pulp fiction is an innovative form, with most of its branches having subdivided from Romance. The broad genres of Western, Detective, Romance and Horror spawned Science Fiction, Jungle Adventure, True Confessions and other offshoots.  In the end it was the Romantic Western and the True Confessions genres which held on as exclusively pulp magazine genres.  Once the appeal of the other genres was proven, they fled to other mediums—following the audience first to radio and the movies and then to television and video games.

During the pulp era, from 1890 to 1950, new genres and slants were constantly being rolled out. Since then, the creation of new genres has massively slacked off. Some of this can be ascribed to the barrier for entry with other mediums.  In the pulps if one wanted to test the appeal of something new and dubious, such as stories centered on zeppelin travel (Zeppelin Stories) or religious setting perverted sex confessions (My Life in a Love Cult) all you needed to do was put out the word, buy 100K words worth of the stuff, commission/repurpose a cover and print. Issued as a quarterly, it flies or dies and the capitalist is not out all that much. With other mediums the sensibilities of external monied interests have to be considered. Sponsors, lenders and marketing departments all have an undo say. The process leans towards building off  themes which have demonstrated a strong draw.  Please no games about directed flower pollination possibilities, we have tens of millions at stake. You want something that’s going to sell—and the best pattern for that is something that sold well before.

That said, 1890 to 1950 is a long time for innovation.  The field of genre innovation may simply be covered.  This type of fiction is reflective of the general human condition in an industrialized society—or those things people would like to escape from or escape into. Not much seems to have changed with that.  There have been some changes in presentation, specific to electronic mediums. Movies manipulate audience reaction through beats, visual and audio ques designed to speed up or slow down the heart rate. (A trick stolen from music.) Television has its encased perception blobs, conditioning to intake content between commercial breaks. Video games have First Person Shooters and 360 perspective.  These are all certainly unique, however they are medium features, not alternative genres. By genre we refer to the theme of the content. Since the demise of the pulps and the rise of these other mediums, there have been all of three new genres which have emerged in popular fiction: Pulp Dystopia, Soap Opera and Reality Programming.  All three forms are thoroughly post pulp magazine, but do have roots tracing to pulp era parallels.

Pulp Dystopia: I am about five years tardy in reporting on the popularity of the dystopian novel. Dystopia is an old novel form, with some early pulp genre convergence in science fiction. It has, however, been largely a literary convention rather than a popular fiction type, at least until relatively recently.  The divergence of Pulp Dystopia from the literary form requires explanation. Dystopia is itself a spin off, a reverse of the classical Utopian novel form. While most Utopian novels have been travelogues of hypothetical perfect places, dystopian works are generally personal horror stories.

Dystopia is literally un-Utopia, a work set in a hypothetical bad place. Dante’s Inferno is one of the earliest dystopian works, predating the term, itself a hypothetical tour of hell and sticking closely to the Utopian travelogue style.  Even the book Utopia is a positive slant to dystopia, although unintentionally and mostly to modern eyes. (Wives having to confess their sins while naked and prostrate before their husbands every evening is only ideal probably for one of the parties involved.) Both forms are extrapolations of an organizing global theme—peak oil, a comprehensive nanny state, zombie apocalypse.

Dystopia writ small is horror. The form can be seen as a subset of large horror themes, a sister genre to Lovecraftian horror or sword and sorcery. There is a certain amount of rules setting—or world building, to borrow a fantasy term—involved in all of these forms. With literary dystopia most of the novel’s words are spent on just this function. After the rules are set, the character moves towards the classic horror results, escape (Logan’s Run, Brave New World) or doom (1984, Night of the Walking Dead). The walls do a lot of talking in literary dystopia, with the ramifications of potential actions and other naval gazing given pride of place.  In literary dystopia the scenery itself is an active menace.

This active menacing scenery is all literary dystopia shares with Pulp Dystopia. The inhabitants of Pulp Dystopia have a wider range of personal preoccupations. (Mostly ignoring the immediate situation.)  High minded Pulp Dystopian protagonists may attempt to “solve” the whole crisis, find a cure for zombie-ism or overthrow Big Brother. But that’s a minority.  Although there is plenty of torture and death lurking in the Pulp version of dystopia, our main characters are seldom involved—in fact, they are seldom the main focus of whatever the overall idea run amok may be.

Pulp Dystopia does not have any direct pulp roots, unless one counts a serial which ran in Operator Number Five called The Purple Invasion. In 13 novels the United States was conquered and destroyed. Prior to that, Operator Number Five took place in the real world, or a world as real as most James Bond movies. From the onset of The Purple Invasion the series was set in an entirely alternative universe. It’s not a stretch to describe it as a dystopia, perhaps the first dystopian serial. Using an established dystopia as a setting for a series of stories is one of the central features of Pulp Dystopia.

Pulp Dystopia’s popularity has been building for decades. At its root is Cold War fear of nuclear annihilation, a real world theme which has lingered for generations.  From there it branched to environmental crisis,  fear of mad science, economic/social domination by the Japanese (now the Chinese), absorption by clans of lawless corporations, to the highly implausible (yet popular) zombie hordes.  Each one of these themes have built up their own fictional architecture, reused over and over.  (Stopping zombies by shooting them in the head.) It may have started in paperback novels, but I am pinning the big blame for Pulp Dystopia’s rise on video games and role-playing games. By the time Mad Max reared his ugly head, the whole post-whatever universe had been established so well that the actual cause of dystopia need not be mentioned.

The form Pulp Dystopia cleaves closest to is the Western.  In my mind this is because Pulp Dystopia is essentially a renamed Western. The drawback to the Western genre is that it is in the past.  Its little clichés and props—high noon shoot outs, the code of the west—have as little to do with life in that historical period as Dungeons & Dragons does with the Renaissance. Like the Western, Pulp Dystopia is a land of minimal opportunity for ambition, remote from fame and fortune. In the evening oppression of it all, the characters are focused on survival and love to the exclusion of all else. Divorced of its no internal logic dystopia, the Hunger Games series is a tale suitable for the classic Romantic Range western pulp. Unlike fantasy or space opera, Pulp Dystopia uses a stripped down version of the commonplace: like here, but without celebrities and Twitter. It’s a Western, only without the livestock and the hicks.  The appeal is in both its familiarity and its general literary democracy.

Now that Pulp Dystopia has been firmly established, it has a long way to run.  The zombie slant is on its way out and quasi feudalism is currently ascendant. The prime conflicts of love and survival along with premixed conventions from the Western and Historic Romance genres will provide material aplenty for some time.  It may even return to its sociology/poly sci experiment in written form roots eventually. Like the Western before it, Pulp Dystopia may die from overexposure, but not anytime soon.  The same cannot be said of our next form…

Soap Opera: Serial stories involving a repeating cast of fictional characters, produced at the hands of several writers, was a advent of the late Dime Novel era.  None of these magazine stories involved female leads or elements of romance, however. Ditto the later pulps, which had an emphasis in character driven titles. Despite the pulps offering several types of romance for female readership, none of them to my knowledge ever involved characters who were reused over the course of several stories. And no pulp series, no matter how convoluted, ever ran several plotlines at once over the course of a single work. Only Stan Lee’s comic books did that—and he was deliberately imitating the soap operas.

Soap Operas have little directly to do with the pulp magazine form in any of its permutations. It origins are in slick woman’s magazine fiction serials and promotions which tied such works with silent movie chapter plays. It was a unique cross-promotional effort. Magazines would run a treatment of the installment concurrent with a release of a short movie which dramatized highlights of the story. It kept people coming back to both the magazine and the movie theater on a regular basis. Some of these tandem efforts, such as the Perils of Pauline, went on for dozens of chapters. Unlike a lot of media inventions, this one was truly international in scope.  The serial novellas were popular from Argentina to Canada, from Spain to Germany. As successful as this was, the arrangement unwound before the advent of talking pictures.

Other than demonstrating that there was a fair-sized audience for serial entertainment targeted at women, there isn’t a lot of similarity in content between these efforts and the style that Soap Operas would eventually take.  They were extremely visual, action-oriented dramas with female leads. This isn’t normally the type of material that women gravitate to.  Its rise and demise may have been more based on novelty than anything else. The Soap Opera form would borrow heavily from the personal adventure slants of these serials, but emerged in the medium of radio.

Radio in the United States went through several phases. Initially the invention was seen as a replacement for the telegraph, with many early systems being dubbed (oddly) visual telegraphs. It was not seen as a method of mass communication, but rather person to person (or ship to shore) contact. Radio’s pioneers, the Marconi Company, envisioned their device as a safety system for transatlantic shipping.  It was only after crystal sets became widespread in the late 1920s that the concept of directing broadcasts widely was first explored. In this, and in every phase of radio’s development, the focus was on monetizing the invention. In the second phase the emphasis was on selling transmitters. Early broadcasters were commercial or community entities—stores, trade unions, service providers—who plied the airways with self-service promotion. In short, radio was wall to wall commercials.

Once the radio audience became established, in the 1930s, the focus shifted first to providing higher quality receivers and then to providing actual programming for the airwaves. (Long story short. It was an uneven process.)  The largest manufacturer of radio receivers, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) successfully petitioned the government to restrict access to transmitters. The newly minted Federal Radio Commission then assigned set frequencies to stations. RCA then formed the first national broadcasting network, the National Broadcasting Company. In fact, it had two networks, NBC Red and NBC Blue. NBC was effectively an advertising agency, selling blocks of time on stations from coast to coast. Other, smaller networks, soon also cropped up: Columbia Broadcasting System, which was purely in the programming business and the Mutual Broadcasting System, which was a coalition of station owners banded together to share programming. (1)

In this phase, the advertisers served as the producers of the programming.  Advertisers conceived the programs, hired all of the talent and paid the network for the airtime. It was during this era that the Soap Operas first emerged.  As the name suggests, most were produced by the makers of household cleaning products.

Then as now, advertisers were interested in getting the most out of their investments—either by reaching the broadest audience possible or making a direct appeal to the likely consumers of their goods. The broad part came first.  Radio was initially an evening medium.  It was believed, fairly, that the bread winners of a family were most prone to listening  after work or after dinner. This span became known as Prime Time and the programming on all networks was built around it. Over time, broadcasters began expanding slated offerings either before or after the Prime Time block. Most of the expansion was in slates of time before the Prime Time block, the audience after 10:00 PM dropping so low that most radio stations simply signed off the air. As opposed to being broadly focused, programs in the earlier slates were targeted at who the advertiser believed had control of the home receiver.

The first additional programming block to develop was the one just previous to Prime Time, called the After School segment.  As the name implies, this block was focused on children having returned home from school.  Many advertisers of the time attempted to tap into existing audience appeal by licensing comic strip characters for their programs. Superman and Little Orphan Annie were two of the most successful of these programs. The majority of these programs were 15 minute daily serial installments, with story arcs which resolved in either one or two weeks. This is also the same format the early Soap Operas used.

The Soap Operas owe a lot to the early After School programs. Many of the programs at the edges of the After School block had dual appeal to both children and adults—as did some of the comics strips they were based on.  Then as now, however, licensing other entities is expensive. Although sharing a similar 15 minute format and serial orientation, the majority of Soap Operas were custom designed original programs. And they were largely targeted at women.

Pulp publisher Street & Smith embraced the medium of radio by providing stories from their magazines, first in the Detective Mystery and then in the Romance genres. (2) The Street & Smith program switched genres with the seasons, offering Detective yarns during the normal season and then switching to Romance during the summer ‘Replacement Season’.  (Unlike TV, the radio era had no off season or summer reruns.) Other publishers in the Romance genre soon followed suit. Stand alone Romantic radio treatments fared well early on, but never became a mainstay of the medium.

Soap Operas are a convergence of the Romance genre and the serial form. They came to dominate the before After School radio timeframe, which became known as Mid Day. Sort of. Only about a third of all Soap Operas aired in that time period. Many Soap Operas were ‘transcribed’ or pre-recorded in advance. Being the products of distinct sponsors, many were aired whenever the air rates hit a certain threshold, either towards the end of Prime Time or as counter programming against higher-rated shows.  This was especially the case when the higher-rated program was not geared to a female audience.

The appeal of the serial form is that it required audiences to make an appointment to return each week day. Beyond form, Soap Operas also adopted the same “Play it Straight” tone common to the adventure serials such as Jack Armstrong the All-American Boy and Captain Midnight.  These were pot boilers, delivered with dramatic flourish, taking themselves very seriously. This may be evidence of the forms reflecting back to the base Romance form. Like the juvenile serials, Soap Operas had a tendency to come off as  breathless dreck.

Once established, the form became widely popular, not just in the United States, but all over the developed world.  Not all of the international efforts clung to the 15 minute serial format—or even the medium of radio. In Argentina and other Latin American countries, Soap Operas came in the form of photo illustrated magazines, reading something like comic books.  The overly serious tone also spread to other genres, the longest lasting of the splices being the Western program Gunsmoke. 

Soap Operas began to diverge from the basic story arc form employed by the other serials early on.  The juvenile serials such as Superman were told in a straight-forward manner, with one plot line moving through its three stages without much sidetracking. By contrast, the Soap Operas often sidetracked their plots, inserting character introductions or dream sequences along the way. They came to adopt what is called an ABC construction, a permutation of the “One Damn Thing After Another” plot form.  The ABC form balances three distinct story lines at one time: (A)  one which is in the midst of concluding; (B) a plotline which is in its second act or mid-resolution; and (C) a story element which is just coming to light. Each segment of a Soap Opera will be dedicated to either A, B or C and usually in this order.

Compared to other forms of programming, radio Soap Operas were inexpensive to produce. Anyone with access to a recording studio and a transcription facility could get into the game.  Many Soap Operas were not networked in a classical sense (delivered to the radio outlet via a dedicated phone line), being sent via transcription disk through the mail. Due to this mechanism, the installments of a program might air at vastly different times in different places—sometimes with a variance of days, weeks, months or years between outlets. It was not unheard of for a program which had gone out of production to start up from the beginning on a new outlet—the new outlet doing nothing more than playing old recordings in order. Soap Operas also benefited from a lowered expectation of production standards.  There was little expectation of realism, originality or wit.  Events which would have blown the budget were explained rather than dramatized. Sound effects were at a minimum and musical accompaniment generally consisted of an organ flourish, right before the commercial break.  All in all, Soap Operas were a good bang for the producer’s buck—and the form proliferated like bunnies.

On radio, Soap Operas clung to two basic story conventions. One I will call the Oracle Formula, wherein the action is centered on a single person who dispenses wisdom. This wisdom spewing gives her license  to  knee-jerk mess with the lives of those unfortunate enough come into her orbit. (Usually younger family members.) Mind you that the other characters in the drama are a collection of nitwits, psychopaths and degenerates. Other than proximity, the various problems endemic to the supporting player’s base state is what qualifies them for the main character’s ad hoc intervention.  And our main character is an intervention dynamo. The second convention I will call the Poor Put On Me Formula. In this formula our main character is deeply mysterious and currently beset by an insurmountable personal circumstance. The character is defenestrated royalty of some sort, broke, a single mother, married to a psychopath or some other dreadful condition. Previously she was a circus aerialist, spy, drug mule. The action floats from the character’s efforts to cope with her current problem, attempts to conceal her past and things from her past reaching into the present. In some Soap Operas you will see both constructions, with one Oracle, one or two Poor Put On Mes and the usual assortment of deplorables. Couple these dynamics with everyone under 60 having the sex drive of a rabbit and the sexual morality of an alley cat and mix to taste.  It’s the formula that made fortunes!

The Soap Opera form reached its height, on radio, by the early 1940s. Nearly every station ran one. And if you ran one, you probably ran a block of them.  Although Soap Opera production was a good business for small time players, about fifty percent of the Soap Operas were created by one of three shops. Many of them were mass-produced entities, sharing writers, actors and recording studios. A few Soap Operas were long lived. Gunsmoke and Edge of Night had enough proven draw to make the jump to television. Most Soap Operas, however, had very short life spans, usually disappearing before their third full season.  It was more the rule that a show lost audience as it went on and that this audience was invariably lost to new Soap Operas. Thus there was a continual drive for novelty.

Setting wise, Soap Operas were fairly democratic. Rural locations were as common as city or suburban ones.  They were Lilly White, although the protagonists came from all economic strata. As a whole, new soaps seemed to follow the leads of trends in Romance literature in general—and quite a few took their cues from what was last hot in Chick Flicks. Oddly, they never went in for historical romance. Advertising considerations are probably the reason for this.

Soap Operas held on in radio well into the television era. They did start to go into decline on radio after the war ended. Two factors led to the Soap Opera’s fall from prominence. First were changes in the radio business itself, brought on by the rise of the car radio and the later advent of television. The end of the Depression factored heavily as well. With radios in cars starting to reach a critical mass, radio stations began grabbing back segments of time from the networks. The orientation came to be catering to commuters, broadly. Morning programming was added and radio became more and more local. The two primary Drive Time slots ate into the Mid day, After School and Prime Time slating where Soap Operas were scheduled. During the Depression, radio stations were used to rather marginal returns. Once the Depression was over, radio stations in major markets became gold mines. They became much less prone to selling 15-minute segments of time or accepting crumbs before or after network shows. Eventually much of what had been radio Prime Time programming migrated to television. As television gained popularity, the radio networks themselves began to dispense with providing anything other than news and sports to their affiliates. Second, even before radio morphed into the form it is today, Soap Operas were losing traction to Game Shows. Game Shows were even cheaper to produce than Soap Operas and were, effectively, long form commercials sans content. Rather a Game Show is a pretext to describe advertising content, the prizes themselves largely being what is advertised.

This rivalry with Games Shows followed Soap Operas into television. In television, the Soap Operas had none of the economies that they enjoyed in radio.  The mediums are quite different from production standpoint. Tying up a soundstage with several sets for the production of a daily hour-long broadcast is expensive business.  The Soap Operas showed up on television because the demand for them had already been well established.  Changes in the working situations of women began to impact their audiences from the 1960s on.  With these changes came a demographic slide towards the elderly and shut in. Eventually much cheaper to produce Game Shows, Talk Shows and our next genre, Reality TV came to replace all but a few of them.

Reality TV: I consider something that is staged, scripted, improvised or otherwise faked to be something other than reality, but is it a genre of fiction? It is at least as much of a fiction genre as True Crime or True Confessions. In effect Reality is something of a mix between True Crime and the Game Show. It oddly normally follows the same basic construction as most Soap Operas, although without the ABC formula.

Reality TV owes its origination to the degrading of the Mid Day audience and its proliferation to the expansion of cable television.  To pick up from where we left off in our history of Soap Operas, the increase in the population of women working outside of the home greatly diminished the demographics of the Mid Day audience.  Today’s Mid Day audience is made up primarily of retirees, the unemployed and assorted shut-ins.  Even with VCR delays in viewing, the demographics of this group were not enough to justify the expense of fielding a block of Soap Operas. (3) Mid Day programming became a quest to produce programs at the lowest dollar costs which had the capacity to outdraw reruns of older programing.  This led to the rise of a new slew of Game Shows and Talk Shows. By the 1980s the demographics had degraded such that it could not support the traditional all celebrity gab fest talk shows—the impetus for name brand entertainers to appear on such evaporating due to the low impact of the audience. Why waste one’s time promoting movies and products to people who are not likely to engage with such.  This led to a degradation of the Talk Show format.

Only Oprah succeeded in the new format, primarily through crafty cultivation of her own media identity and a focus on stunt topics.  All of the other talk shows became freak shows, World Wrestling Federation type screaming matches and fights involving no name nitwits, psychopaths and degenerates. No further devolution seemed possible… then the cable channels got in the act. Today there are several permutations of this format, which we will cover briefly. The rise of Reality has coincided with the revivals of pulp genres True Crime and Gossip, also largely on the same stations. It’s the new low rent pantheon.

Many forms of Reality TV are simply True Crime or True Confessions. A few stumble into the Utopian travelogue format, similar to Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.  There are three forms, however, which fall into their own subsets of fiction.  

Prison Time: Let’s film prisoners! It’s a dramatic situation, filled with danger and unpredictable actors. And you don’t have to pay the prisoners—in many cases it is illegal to—just get their permission to be filmed. One imagines the prisoners cue up when they spot the production advance men scouting their institution. From personal experience I can tell you that prisoners just love to talk to someone new. This grew out of the True Crime revival and is now quite the enterprise for several crews. I’m not sure this is a great idea or just massively cynical. At this point the appeal is starting to fade. After watching two or three of these most people will never tune in again. (You’ve seen one prison, you’ve seen them all. Ditto crooks.) As a genre it is a mainstay of the Insomniac Slot from 3:00 AM until the very early news. It has very limited advertiser appeal and is deployed by True Crime and News channels.

Let’s Play Games: Uses the Soap Opera Oracle construction. Here the assorted maniacs are set to a task which has a distinct resolution.  Sometimes the Oracle acts as a real judge (Judge Judy decides who wins your civil dispute with the other nitwit) or sometimes they just provoke and guide when the maniacs need prompting. This construction is very popular, taking the form of game shows, rehab sessions and mock court hearings. The settings can either be isolated (remote islands), confined (a wired for sound house) or free range (New Jersey). To “win” the game, you must do one of the following: (1) Avoid being humiliated. Or avoid having the Oracle rule against you; (2) Humiliate the most other people; and/or (3) Be the least humiliated contestant. No one gets out of this with their dignity intact. And I guess that’s the point. Sadly, the appeal of this may be as an analogy to modern occupational situations.

Unfunny Situation Comedy: If you have ever seen the Jack Benny Show then you have the plot of every reality domestic situation program down pat.  Jack Benny’s program was arguably about how he got his program produced every week.  Over the course of the program’s running it was revealed that Jack Benny suffered from numerous phobias, was cheap in the extreme, vain and basically a big goof ball. The people Benny surrounded himself with weren’t much better, but they were able to continually make Benny the butt of numerous jokes.  Nothing about the show was real. Few of the people on the program were what they seemed in real life. (Benny was a very generous performer, always allowing others the big laugh line and flexible enough to act as the universal straight man.) It was extremely well done and the audience played along with the act. This last element is what is missing from most of these shows. Almost all of the main characters are Jack Benny types—venal, insipid minor league celebrities. Few of them have Benny’s timing and most are unaware that they are the butts of jokes. Instead of being interesting or kooky in any developed way, supporting cast members are servile henchmen, fawning entourage, there to reflect glory or collect abuse. (I swear Bruce Jenner drew the short straw at a production meeting. Guess what, Bruce? You haven’t been pulling your weight here. And the DUI homicide is no bonus. You’re going to become a woman. That ought to spike ratings.) Many of the shows revolve around “characters” who previously appeared on the game show version of reality, but most are built around a situation or business. There have been bounty hunter shows, repo men shows, pawn shop shows, foodie shows, business investor shows and a number of shows revolving around antiques.

The granddaddy of these shows might be the old Arthur Godfrey morning radio program, but most seem to be inspired by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Even the better of these programs, such as England’s Top Gear, are highly contrived. As with most split off genres, the best examples appeared early on. The Ozzy Osbourne program came closest to capturing the Jack Benny formula and did best the closer it clung to it.  The oddball Bar Rescue had an intriguing business slant and was well done, early on. Unfortunately Bar Rescue is responsible for the overly serious tone which has now inflicted every show in the business Reality sector. Frankly, the entire Reality field has now resorted to High Camp.

High Camp does have a demonstrable draw, but I am not sure how much of it the public can take. Cable cord cutting will be the real test of Reality Television. Once the medium shifts to ala carte offerings I suspect that many of the channels which rely on Reality are going to find themselves left high and dry. Soap Operas have not died off in other countries and I suspect there will be a revival of the form soon enough. It has the most potential in a form where it can be consumed at leisure. Unless the Pulp Utopias like Star Trek make some sort of come back, the dismal Pulp Dystopia will be crowding out the space once reserved for Westerns and probably for some time.

WE DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING! Your comments, corrections and critiques are actively invited!

(1)    Mutual produced its own programs and then sought sponsors for them. Their three big hits, all from the same affiliate, were the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet and Challenge of the Yukon. Eventually the networks copied Mutual’s model, purchasing the shows directly. This gave the network more control over content and allowed them to pitch programming at multiple sponsors.  But early on the sponsors were in the driver’s seat.
(2)    The Street & Smith program eventually mutated into The Shadow, a science fantasy adventure show which lasted for decades.  Love Story magazine, True Story and Red Book also had radio shows which were popular. All of the other romance shows faded with the rise of the Soap Operas.
(3)    The audience for Soap Operas remained strong through the 1980s, but only if you included the number of women who taped the show for later viewing. The rating services refused to count these consumers.  They felt, perhaps correctly, that the majority of the taped viewers were fast forwarding through the commercials and were therefore useless to the rating number. 

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