That Brighter Day
The story focused on the Dennis family who were originally from the town of Three Rivers, but moved to the nearby town of New Hope after Three Rivers was destroyed by a flood. Later in the series run, the Dennis family moved to Columbus, a college town.
The title came from the opening words used in every episode, "Our years are as the falling leaves. We live, we love, we dream, and then we go. But somehow we keep hoping, don't we, that our dreams come true on that brighter day?"
The Dennis family consisted of widower Reverend Richard Dennis; his sister, Emily Potter, the mother figure for the family; Liz, the oldest daughter, she was married and out of the fold when the show went to television (she was a main character in the radio series but was non-existent on the television series); Grayling, the Dennis' alcoholic son; Althea, the most neurotic of the siblings; Patsy, a teenager who marries Dr. Randy Hamilton; and Barbara (called Babby), the youngest.
Althea was interesting in that she was wanting to become a star. However, she was often squelched in those dreams, especially after a sandbag decked her while she was on stage. She was also quite neurotic having some wild mood swings. She sought counseling with her brother in-law, Dr. Hamilton, who told her that she would be happiest as a housewife. Althea, undaunted by her brother in-law's words, told him to stuff it, and she left New Hope to become an actress.
The show spawned many alumni during its time on the air. The most notable of these were Hal Holbrook (Grayling Dennis #1, who actually used one of Grayling's drunk scenes for a successful audition to the Actor's Studio); James Noble (Grayling Dennis #2) who later starred on the comedy Benson; Forrest Compton (Grayling Dennis #3), who would be better known as the third and most well-known Mike Karr on The Edge of Night; versatile movie and television actress Patty Duke; Lois Nettleton (Patsy Dennis Hamilton), who would later be featured on the TV series, In the Heat of the Night; Lanna Saunders (Days of Our Lives); Bennye Gatteys (also of Days of Our Lives) and Gloria Hoye (Somerset and Love is a Many Splendored Thing) among many others.
The importance of Soap Opera on the radio
Soap Operas had blossomed on Radio, and there were many of them over the years, which ran the gamut from The Road of Life and The Romance of Helen Trent (created and produced by the prolific Frank and Anne Hummert, the William and Lee Bell of their day), to Lorenzo Jones and Ma Perkins, and all of them were rather beloved in the minds of those who listened to them when Radio was in its prime.
Yet, out of all of them, The Brighter Day, One Man's Family (Carlton E. Morse's most well-known and beloved magnum opus) and The Guiding Light were the only soaps that made the tricky but successful transfer from Radio to Television. As for the rest, they live on in the memories of those who loved them.
At one point, The Road of Life had a very brief run on television, with the radio star Don McLaughlin reprising his role of Dr. Jim Brent and Virginia Dwyer playing his wife Jocelyn McLeod Brent. Conrad Dingle and Barbara Becker (who had played Jocelyn on the radio) would play Jocelyn's relations, the wicked Conrad and Sybil Overton.