BRIGHT LIGHT! BRIGHT LIGHT!
59 years ago today, on October 11, 1948, P&G's radio soap opera, A Brighter Day, began broadcasting on NBC.
An Irna Phillips creation, it was a replacement for Joyce Jordan, MD, though, like when ABC's Loving would turn into The City in 1995, new lead Liz Dennis had previously been introduced on the medically themed-show.
By the time A Brighter Day moved to CBS television in 1954, however, Liz was not a major part of the show (unfortunately for Liz, she was happily married -- and thus in storyline limbo). The move to television also changed the show's locale from Three Rivers to New Hope, PA. The relocation was explained as being the result of a flood. (In the 1980s, Search for Tomorrow tried the same tactic; flooding most of Henderson not as an excuse to move to a new town, but to explain the new sets).
Actors who appeared on A Brighter Day during its eight year television run included Hal Holbrook (before he was Mark Twain), James Noble (before he was Benson's governor), Forrest Compton (before he was Mike on Edge of Night), Lanna Saunders (before she was sister Marie on DOOL), and a tiny Patty Duke (before she was Helen Keller, or identical cousins, or Sean Astin's mom).
In August of 1962, A Brighter Day made history by hiring the first African-American series regular, actor Rex Ingram. (Guiding Light has the distinction of putting the first African-American actors on contract by hiring Billy Dee Wilson and Cecily Tyson, and later James Earl Jones and Ruby Dee for the roles of Jim and Martha Frazier).
Unfortunately for Mr. Ingram and the fans of A Brighter Day, the show was cancelled in September of the same year due to low rating.
On its last air-date on September 28, 1962, A Brighter Day was in third to last place in the ratings, with a 3.7. 45 years later, the #1 soap in daytime is Y&R. With a 4.0 rating.*
* A single Nielsen point is worth more today than it was in 1962, so this isn't a raw number comparison.