“Do you know where your children are?” The seemingly innocuous question holds a deeper significance. It serves as a warning, a reminder of the potential dangers lurking in the world. And as parents, it’s a question that can evoke a certain sense of dread.
The origins of this phrase are shrouded in mystery. The earliest known reference dates back to January 1967 when a Baltimore newspaper mentioned a local station using it in reference to the 11 p.m. hour. Another claim to fame comes from Buffalo’s WKBW-TV, where the legendary anchor Irv Weinstein was long associated with its usage. However, it was WNEW that truly embraced this slogan and made it their own.
According to Charlotte Morris, the network’s public affairs director, the slogan first came into use around 1968. It was born out of genuine concern for the safety of children, particularly in New York City’s minority communities. The idea was sparked by a concerned citizen named Mildred Coleman, who highlighted the issue of children frequently being out after hours. Mrs. Coleman suggested the station run a segment urging parents to keep track of their kids.
Using Mrs. Coleman’s suggestion as a starting point, Morris created a segment for their “Focus” public affairs program. They featured mothers from different ethnic backgrounds – Hispanic, white, and black – all echoing the same sentiment: “Do you know where your children are tonight?” The segment quickly gained popularity, resonating with viewers and prompting an influx of mail.
But what was the inspiration behind associating this phrase with the 10 p.m. news? Mental Floss reveals that it was the result of the station manager, Mel Epstein, and lead anchor, Tom Gregory, cleverly branding their programming. Starting with the station’s “Faces and Places in the News,” they used the phrase to introduce their segments. Eventually, the slogan became synonymous with the station itself, leading to the birth of “The 10 O’Clock News” on WNEW, now known as WNYW.
Remarkably, this seemingly solemn warning transformed into a cultural phenomenon, infiltrating popular culture by the late 1970s. The slogan was adopted by numerous celebrities, big and small, making it a part of their persona. Even icons like Andy Warhol and Grace Jones embraced it. Its popularity was further solidified when Channel 5 hosted a party at the infamous Studio 54 to bring together these celebrity endorsers.
While WNYW may have been the primary purveyor, newscasts across the country also embraced the slogan. It spread beyond the cities already mentioned, reaching as far as Detroit, Des Moines, Miami, and Albuquerque.
Today, the phrase may not hold the same prominence as it once did, but its impact remains. It still has the power to strike a chord in the right context and at the right time. As parents, it serves as a gentle reminder to stay vigilant and aware of our children’s whereabouts.
So, take a moment tonight, as the clock strikes 10, to ask yourself: “Do you know where your children are?” Let it serve as a call to action, reinforcing the importance of keeping our loved ones safe in an ever-changing world.
To explore more intriguing stories like this one, visit 5 WS.