Vintage Radio

Guiding Light - Old Time Radio

Guiding Light

Broadcast on NBC from Chicago in 1937 and for the majority of its run, production moved to Hollywood for one year, then settled in New York until its final airing in 1949 on CBS, where it had been since 1947. It first ran as 15-minute episodes which wer increased to one hour long as it became more successful.

Former teacher, Irna Phillips not only conceived The Guiding light, she wrote the scripts, dictating millions of words each year. She had a unique skill for imagining several plot lines for multiple characters at once, then using different voices for each character during the dictation sessions with her numerous secretaries.

The show was set against a backdrop of nondenominational Christian beliefs in the fictional town of Five Points. The Reverend John Ruthledge is the first "guiding light" of the diverse community of people with strong ethnic identities from various European countries, most of them in lower income statuses. Phillips skillfully used organ music to convey an overtone of spirituality, and in some episodes, several minutes at the end of the show were given over solely to church music.

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