Guiding Light (known as The Guiding Light before 1975, or simply GL) is an American daytime television drama that is credited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running drama in television and radio history, running from 1937 until 2009. It is also among the longest running broadcast programs in history of any kind, across radio media for 15 years, and then television media for 57 years, being first broadcast five days after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second inauguration.
It aired on radio from January 25, 1937, to June 29, 1956, and debuted on CBS Television on June 30, 1952 running for 57 years. The series was expanded from 15 minutes to a half hour in 1968, and then to a full hour on November 7, 1977. The show’s title refers to a lamp in the study of Reverend Dr. John Ruthledge, a major character when The Guiding Light debuted in 1937, that family and residents could see as a sign for them to find help when needed.
The series was created by Irna Phillips, who based it on personal experiences. After giving birth to a still-born baby at age 19, she found spiritual comfort listening to the on-air sermons of Preston Bradley, a famous Chicago preacher and founder of the People’s Church, a church which promoted the brotherhood of man. It was these sermons that formed the nucleus of the creation of The Guiding Light, which began as a radio show. The original radio show began airing 15 minute episodes on January 25, 1937, on NBC Radio.
The show moved to CBS Radio in 1947. During the period from 1952 to 1956, The Guiding Light existed as both a radio and television serial, with actors recording their performances twice each day the shows aired. The radio broadcast of The Guiding Light ceased production in 1956, ending this overlap.