Did you ever wonder what spurred on the the webmasters of some of your favorite fan sites to spend hours on end in front of the computer bringing you a fun site to visit? In Soapdom's Site of the Month, you'll have the opportunity to find out!
Site of the Month March 2004
Soap Opera Fan
Robert Dustin Cushman, Webmaster
SoapOperaFan.Com, affectionately known around the net as Dustin's Days Page and Dustin's Passions Page, was developed and continues to be run by Robert Dustin Cushman. It is an extremely informative site that covers two daytime Soap Operas, Days of Our Lives and Passions, as well as one night time soap - The OC.
Along with his daily summaries, Dustin also had spoilers and 'Don't Miss Dates' as well as a wonderful section called Early Edition.
Recently, Dustin (who just received his M.A in Anthropology from Temple University this past August) answered a few questions about his site and his life:
Soapdom: What inspired you to create this site?
Dustin: I actually created the site one summer as a fun project to keep myself occupied. I was an undergrad at the time, and had learned I could use my school email account to make a website. I didn't really know what to make a website about, so I surfed the web a little to get some ideas. I came across some websites about soap operas, of which there weren't all that many at the time. I decided since I watched Days of Our Lives every single day, I should make a website for the show. I started it for myself as something to do that summer. I never expected anyone to ever see it or visit it regularly!
Soapdom: How much time do you put into it?
Dustin: Sometimes it actually feels like a full time job. On average I would say I work on the site about four hours a day, but some days I can spend the entire day working on the site (and often do).
Soapdom: Is it a labor of love, or do you anticipate earning revenue from it. Do you earn revenue already? Does it cover your costs to run the site?
Dustin: Running the site is a labor of love, but it is not without its heartaches. I do run advertisements on the page because there is no way I can handle the server costs on my own. Fortunately, right now I am able to cover the cost of the server with the advertisements. In the past, that has not always been the case, and at one point I ran the site at a major loss for months until I was lucky enough to find some new advertisers. I'm hoping that won't happen again because I was so close to having to shut the page down. Being faced with shutting the page down back then was heartbreaking for me because it has become such a major part of my life.
Soapdom: How long has your site been running?
Dustin: I began the site in the summer of 1995 with just the Days of Our Lives page. The Days page has been up for about eight or nine years now. I started the Passions Page in the spring of 1999, a few months before Passions even officially aired. The last page I added to my site was for The O.C. I added that this past fall. Believe it or not, every now and then I'll get an email from a reader who tells me they have been reading my site almost since I began it!
Soapdom: What is your favorite thing about the site?
Dustin: I would say my favorite thing about running the site is the people I've come into contact with over the years. I have met a lot of great people from all over the country, many of whom I've actually met in person, some of whom I try to see at least once a year if possible. There are actually two women out there who consider themselves my internet moms, they are really great people.
Soapdom: What is your least favorite thing about the site?
Dustin: Even though I love the site, there are times where I have a love-hate relationship with it. There is many a day I come home tired and just don't feel like sitting down and watching the soaps to write up a report for the site, or answering email from the site, or just dealing with the site at all. Many of my readers probably do not know that I am in graduate school, working on a research project for my degree and part-time teaching at the same time I'm running this site. Sometimes it can be too much for me to handle.
Soapdom: If you had your wish, what would you like to see happen with your site?
Dustin: A lot of readers email me telling me how much they enjoy my pages, and if I would consider making a page for another soap opera. Unfortunately I only have so much time in the day, and I being one person, can't cover anymore soaps than I already do. I would love to find other dedicated soap fans to create pages for other soaps so my site could cover all the soaps. However, this would require finding people I trust enough to enter such a partnership with, and probably a lot of capital to cover the cost of a server to handle the increased traffic for the site. I would also need a lot more free time on my hands as such an endeavor probably would be a full time job.
Soapdom: Do you have any anecdotal story to share with us about something that happened to you as a result of running this site?
Dustin: Probably one of the funniest incidents to ever happen to me as a result of running my site happened to me at school about three years ago. It was my first semester teaching, and I and a fellow classmate were teaching assistants for a professor's class. We had gone to the school library in order to make a quiz to give the students in our class. We were working on the quiz when two girls approached us. One of them asked "Are you Dustin?" I replied yes, and they whispered something and then scurried off. A few minutes later, one of them came back and asked "Is Sheridan really dead?" My fellow classmate just looked at me and asked if anything like that ever happened before. I told her not outside of fan conventions!
Dustin also informed us that " ....while over the next few months I will be traveling heavily to do data collection for my research, most likely several days a week, I will NOT be closing my page. However, on certain days my updates may occur VERY late at night (in some cases I will be on the road between 2-4 hours a day). My schedule will vary from week to week, so I will attempt to post information on my schedule ahead of time when I know updates will be late on certain days."
We hope that Dustin takes a few days for rest and relaxation, too!
If you are a fan of Days of Our Lives, Passions or The OC, I would urge you to check out SoapOperaFan.Com. It's a great site, and while you're there, send Dustin an email telling him your thoughts on his site and that you got to know him a little better from his interview at Soapdom.com!
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