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National Association of Broadcasters
#Radio100 Moment 92:

"Clara, Lu and Em" Becomes Radio's First Daytime Soap Opera

Radio’s first soap opera aired over WGN-AM Chicago, Ill., on June 16, 1930. Clara, Lu, and Em was a series that began as a sorority sketch by three friends: Louise Starkey (Clara), Isobel Carothers (Lu) and Helen King (Em). Stories centered around three Midwestern housewives who shared a duplex. Starkey, Carothers and King did the first shows for no pay. As the show became popular, it was sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive. Clara, Lu and Em helped coin the name “soap operas” as daytime shows were often sponsored by “soap makers." The show was very successful and continued on NBC and the Blue Network until 1937 when Carothers suddenly died.

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Old Time Radio Catalog

November 2, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the first commercial radio broadcast. To celebrate this special anniversary, we’re shining a spotlight on 100 key moments in radio's history.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating your favorite radio memories throughout 2020. Use the hashtag #Radio100 across social media to share these moments with the world. Here’s to 100 wonderful years of radio, and to at least 100 more!

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