Saturday, April 04, 2009

The day the champagne music was corked....for now

This week's news of the long running soap opera Guiding Light's cancellation brought forth alot of parallels with the Lawrence Welk Show. It kinda reminded many of the day when word came 38 years ago when ABC cancelled the Welk Show.

The date was March 19, 1971....the Maestro was in the middle of a golf game at his Escondido resort when he was summoned to a phone call. It was reporter Rick DuBrow from UPI asking Lawrence how he felt that his show was cancelled. His response, according to the TV Treasures documentary was he was disappointed, but more so for his Musical Family than for himself.

Not long after, Welk's cancellation made headlines across the country

And the response from the public was swift.....

Side note: This was during the time in television when networks purged shows from their prime time schedules that were deemed too rural and slanted mostly towards older demographics (examples included The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Ed Sullivan and Mayberry RFD), in other was younger, more sophiscated demographics that advertisers and networks crave.

The ABC network was deluged with millions of calls to their switchboards, fans protesting the cancellation. The Welk offices in Santa Monica received over one million pieces of mail expressing sorry and support from their fans.

That led Lawrence that his show can go on, through syndication....thanks to an FCC rule that networks had to give one hour of programming to local stations, and along with the support of his sponsors led to oppurtunity!

So on September 11, 1971....the Lawrence Welk Show debuted in it's syndication form, in more than 200 stations in the US and Canada, where it would thrive for eleven more years.

Maybe Guiding Light can have that same happy ending?

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