Today's Children

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Today's Children
A 1935 Pillsbury premium
Genre Soap opera
Running time15 minutes
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
Home station NBC
Starring Irna Phillips
AnnouncerLouis Roen (1933-37)
Created by Irna Phillips
Written by Irna Phillips, Virginia Cooke (dialogue, second series)
Directed byAxel Gruenberg (1943-50)
Produced byCarl Wester (1943-50)
Recording studio Chicago, Illinois (1933-37, 1943-46), Hollywood, California (1946-50)
Original releaseSeptember 11, 1933 – June 2, 1950
No. of seriesTwo
Audio formatMono
Sponsored by Pillsbury (1933-37), General Mills (1943-50)

Today's Children was a name shared by two thematically related American radio soap operas created and written by Irna Phillips, the earliest of which was her first nationally networked series.

Radio broadcasting in the United States has been used since the early 1920s to distribute news and entertainment to a national audience. It was the first electronic "mass medium" technology, and its introduction, along with the subsequent development of sound movies, ended the print monopoly of mass media. During radio's "Golden Age" it had a major cultural and financial impact on the country. However, the rise of television broadcasting in the 1950s relegated radio to a secondary status, as much of its programming and audience shifted to the new "sight joined with sound" service.

A soap opera is a radio or television serial dealing especially with domestic situations and frequently characterized by melodrama and sentimentality. The term soap opera originated from radio dramas being sponsored by soap manufacturers.

Irna Phillips American actress and writer

Irna Phillips was an American scriptwriter, screenwriter, casting agent and actress. Known by several publications as the "Queen of the Soaps", she created, produced, and wrote several of the first American daytime radio and television soap operas. As a result of creating some of the best known series in the genre, including Guiding Light, As the World Turns, and Another World, Phillips is credited with creating and innovating a daytime serial format with programming geared specifically toward women. She was also a mentor to several other pioneers of the daytime soap opera, including Agnes Nixon and William J. Bell.


1933-1938 series

The original series, which debuted on September 11, 1933, revolved around the large Moran clan, headed by widow Mary "Mother" Moran, who was voiced by Phillips herself. Mother Moran had three adult children—Terry, Frances, and Eileen—whose troubles she dealt with using what promotional materials called "warm-hearted understanding and a common-sense philosophy." [1]

The creation of the series was a direct result of Phillips' resignation from her pioneering WGN series Painted Dreams when the station refused to allow her to take the program to a network. As a result of the station's decision, she created Children for NBC-owned WMAQ as a thinly disguised version of the earlier series. Mother Moran was based on Mother Moynahan the mother-in-law of WGN station manager Harry Gilman, and Lucy Gilman's grandmother. [2] The series ended on December 31, 1937, replaced in the new year by another Phillips creation, Woman in White . [3]

WGN (AM) radio station in Chicago, Illinois

WGN, 720 kHz, is a commercial AM radio station in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The station is owned by Nexstar Media Group. The station's studios are located on the 18th floor of 303 East Wacker Drive in the Chicago Loop, while its transmitter is located in Elk Grove Village. Since around 1990, WGN has maintained a news/talk format. WGN does not broadcast in HD.

<i>Painted Dreams</i>

Painted Dreams is an American radio soap opera that was the first daytime radio soap opera program in the United States. It was broadcast from Chicago. It premiered October 20, 1930 and last aired in July 1943.

WMAQ (AM) former clear-channel radio station in Chicago

WMAQ was an AM radio station located in Chicago, Illinois, United States, and broadcast at 670 kHz with 50,000 watts. The station was in existence from 1922 to 2000, and was the oldest surviving broadcast outlet in Chicago. It was a class A clear channel station, and could be heard, particularly at night, over most of the eastern United States. WMAQ was owned in its later years by CBS Radio, but for much of its life it was owned by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), and later Westinghouse Broadcasting. The station's original owner was the Chicago Daily News newspaper, but its longest-running ownership was as an NBC Radio owned-and-operated station. Its transmitter was located in Bloomingdale, Illinois just off Army Trail Road, with a 238-meter (780-foot) tower where it remains today, with the callsign still on the exterior facade. The AM 670 transmitter is now in use by WMAQ's successor, All Sports Radio WSCR, and remains under the ownership of Entercom, which merged with CBS Radio in 2017.

In 1937 a novel was published in book form by Pillsbury Flour Mills Company based on the radio program and given the same name ("Today's Children"). The copyright was held by the National Broadcasting Company. No author was cited in the book. The book was illustrated with line drawings depicting the action, as well as photographs of the leading characters in the show - identified by their character names only.


A 1935 Pillsbury advertising premium describes the characters as follows.

1943-1950 series

Six years following the end of the original series, Phillips created a new serial bearing the Today's Children title which began on December 13, 1943 over NBC, related to the original series only by its general dramatic themes and the setting of Chicago's Hester Street. The new serial followed the family of Mama and Papa Schultz, played Virginia Payne and Murray Forbes. [2]

Virginia Payne American actress

Virginia Payne was an American radio actress, best known for her 27-year role as the title character in the radio soap opera Ma Perkins. In 1939-1940, she played Mrs. Kerry Carter on the radio soap opera The Carters of Elm Street. She was in the soap opera Light of the World, 1940-1950, on CBS and NBC and on Lonely Women on NBC in 1942.

Originally, the series was one of three Phillips-created serials which made up the General Mills Hour, with characters and plots crossing over between Children, The Guiding Light , and Woman In White. Although Phillips was integral in plotting the revived series, the dialogue was written by Virginia Cooke. The second version of Today's Children ended on June 2, 1950. [2]

<i>Guiding Light</i> television series

Guiding Light is an American television soap opera. It is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running drama in television in American history, broadcast on CBS for 57 years from June 30, 1952, until September 18, 2009, overlapping a 19-year broadcast on radio from 1937 to 1956. With 72 years of radio and television runs, Guiding Light is the longest running soap opera, ahead of General Hospital, and the fifth-longest running program in all of broadcast history; only the American country music radio program Grand Ole Opry, the BBC religious program The Daily Service (1928), the CBS religious program Music and the Spoken Word (1929), and the Norwegian children's radio program Lørdagsbarnetimen (1924-2010) have been on the air longer.

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  1. "A Synopsis of the Story to Date" from "Today's Children" Family Album (1935, Pillsbury advertising premium).
  2. 1 2 3 Dunning, John (1998). On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 673–674. ISBN   0-19-507678-8 . Retrieved 2019-09-24.
  3. "Behind Scenes Scenes; About Programs and People". New York Times. 1937-12-26.