Nickelodeon recently announced the debut of “Top Wing,” a CGI-animated series for preschool children which focuses on four young birds who help their community and go on adventures as they attempt to become “rescue birds.” The characters are essentially cadets-in-training named Swift, Penny, Rod, and Brody. The action-packed show includes high-tech gadgets and gizmos as well as turbo-charged vehicles which add allure to the series.

Cathy Galeota is the Senior Vice President of Preschool Content at the Nickelodeon Group and played an integral role in the development of “Top Wing.” She recently granted an exclusive interview where she discussed her career, this new creative series and Nickelodeon’s aspirations for its future.

Children's television and 'Top Wing'

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in children’s television programming and how did you find your way to Nickelodeon?

Cathy Galeota (CG): I was interested in children’s television programming from the start. I especially loved the younger demographic where story and curriculum come together. I lived in Los Angeles for many years and worked for other networks with kids programming blocks (Disney Channel and the WB) and eventually met someone who led me to Nickelodeon when Nick Jr. was just beginning. In 1996, I moved from LA to NY and started working at Nick, and have been here ever since.

MM: What’s the most unique thing to you about “Top Wing”?

CG: I think the most unique aspect of “Top Wing” is that it combines preschool action and adventure with social-emotional lessons.

Not many shows do that in the competitive landscape. Another aspect of the show that I feel really stands out is the message of doing your best, and putting in hard work and effort to master skills and obtain your goals. The “Top Wing” cadets are faced with challenges, encountering obstacles and barriers along the way, but they never give up and eventually they achieve their goal.

How these characters react to setbacks and challenges, make them important role models for young children. This aspect of the show feels like the main differentiator from our other properties.

MM: Do you have a favorite “Top Wing” character or episode?

CG: I love the sleepy bear episode because it combines great preschool action and heroism with tenderness and heart—especially the moment when the cadets return the baby bear to her parents.

I also like that Rod faces and overcomes his fears when entering the haunted cave. It’s a great lesson for our preschool audience to see. Rod and Penny are my favorite characters. I love Rod’s “can-do” attitude, and I love Penny for her underwater exploration skills. She’s also super cute!

Characters, preschoolers, and stories

MM: This show centers on characters who are training at an academy to become rescue birds. What do you think the appeal is for preschoolers?

CG: In our research, we discovered that kids and moms found that the show’s premise of rescue birds training at an academy was unique and appealing. Not many shows out there feature a boarding school environment where the students live and train together.

The entire idea of training to earn badges felt very aspirational to kids. Moms appreciated the message that hard work allows you to achieve your goals. They also liked that the characters in the series are positive role models for their preschoolers. Additionally, kids loved the comedy and the rescue aspects of the show.

MM: What are the qualities of a successful preschool show for Nickelodeon?

CG: The qualities for a successful preschool series are great characters, high-stakes adventures, a unique curriculum and lots of heart. We want our audience to comprehend the story, feel exhilarated by the action, and be emotionally invested in the characters and their journey.

MM: How do you envision the “Top Wing” series evolving?

CG: There are endless stories we can tell with these characters. We’ll continue to expand the rich locations on Big Swirl Island, and create new characters and new villains.