CBS anounced today that it's cancelling "As the World Turns," the venerable soap opera that has been on the air since April 1956. The last episode will air in September 2010. The news comes just three months after CBS announced it was ending another soap opera staple, "The Guiding Light," which began its run on radio nearly three-quarters of a century ago. The soaps, yielding to changing daytime television demographics (more women at work, fewer at home to watch, even with TIVO) and more topical programming offered by talk shows such as Oprah, Ellen and Dr. Phil, seem just too slowly paced for the tempo of today's television.
A good history of ATWT is here http://www.tvweek.com/news/2009/12/cancelled_as_the_world_turns_w.php
The retrospective includes this fascinating detail: In 1963, CBS interrupted the broadcast of "As The World Turns'' to announce that President Kennedy had been shot. However, the actors had to continue performing because the show was live, not on tape, and could not be stopped. They were informed about JFK's death when the broadcast ended.