It all started as a joke.
There I was sitting around the old lunch table with my co-workers, and one of them asked what I was going to do next. They were asking what my next book was going to be. I hemmed and hawed around. The truth was I thought I was too dang busy to take on ANOTHER project. Finally, I said, “[Laughter] I’m going to produce a soap opera. [More Laughter.]”
And it never left my head.
I’d not had any experience producing more than a bake sale, was technologically still in kindergarten, never wrote a script, and had no deep pockets to fund it. But when have I ever let that stop me? Well, okay. I’ve let that stop me a lot of times.
I started researching soap operas and found out the televised ones were floundering. Why? It appeared the cause was in 1969, Shirley Chisholm, US House of Representative (NY), gave a speech she called Equal Rights for Women, which discussed gender discrimination in the workplace. Over the next several decades, women started working outside the home in larger and larger numbers. It wasn’t that the genre had become passe; it was because no one was home anymore to watch the soaps.
Spurred by that insight, I moved forward and decided on a podcast platform. There weren’t any podcast soap operas at the time, so I could not do proper niche research. I did note the popularity of the true-crime podcasts. Why were people listening to that? Well, people like drama. Who doesn’t rubberneck an accident? My mom will stop in the middle of the road to gawk at one. A soap opera is a serialized accident that doesn’t even have to pay attention to the rules. The classic soap opera tropes allow you to bring dead people back from the great beyond.
I had many people tell me no, or point out it wasn’t viable, or tell me I should not use the term “soap opera” because it would probably hurt my chances. One of the folks I went to for advice pointed out that since there weren’t any podcast soap operas, that should tell me something. It did tell me something. It told me there was an opportunity. I don’t think that’s what he meant.
People are listening in 73 countries and all 50 United States. Yeah, I can see that a podcast soap opera is just not viable.
Here we are, two and a half years since the conception of the idea couched in a joke, scheduled to record the 100th episode of Restless Shores in a few weeks. You know the rest.