Back before news wasn’t punctuated by yelling, ideology and ratings grabs, broadcasting the news was more like storytelling. The symbol of such news programming was Paul Harvey, whose radio news program was an indispensable part of every mid-day. Paul Harvey told people the news without needing to raise his voice, and trusted his audience to know “the rest of the story.” Paul Harvey’s story came to an end yesterday, with his death at the age of 90.
Paul Harvey was reported to have died at his winter home in Phoenix, surrounded by family members. His death brings the end of a career that spanned over seven decades in radio.
From the very beginning, Paul Harvey’s famous voice took him far, as he was already a recognized orator in high school. By the age of 14, he had his first radio job in Tulsa. Harvey was a staff announcer, and then a station manager in several places, before enlisting in the Air Force and getting a medical discharge in 1943.
Paul Harvey Aurandt then shortened his name and began doing his signature news commentaries in Chicago. By the early 50’s, a new network called ABC was on the rise. Harvey got advertisers to put his broadcast nationwide on the new ABC radio network. “Paul Harvey News” went national over the network in 1951.
For the next 50+ years, Harvey created some of the most famed catchphrases, and had the most famed delivery, in radio history. Despite also working in television, Harvey’s first love was the radio, and projecting imagery for his audience.
Harvey rivaled Walter Cronkite as the most trusted name in news, as the two were the most famous names in their respective mediums. Like Cronkite, Harvey eventually came to denounce the Vietnam War, despite his conservative-leaning beliefs. Like Cronkite, Harvey’s address against the war in 1970 brought thousands of telegrams to the White House, and was a symbol of the war’s unpopularity.
But Harvey’s most famous routine “The Rest of the Story” did not debut until 1976, with credit largely going to his son, Paul Jr., for finding the stories. However, as usual, Harvey’s delivery made the anecdotes famous, as he told folksy stories with a twist at the end as to whom they were about.
Harvey also garnered favor with advertisers for working his stories right into commercials for their product. He was also even more prolific in inventing new political buzzwords than Stephen Colbert, dubbing terms like “guesstimate” and “Reaganomics.” Harvey was also recognized as a voice for the heartland, in a time before the politicization and shock-jocking of American radio.
Harvey received the Medal of Freedom in 2005. He lost his wife and producer, Lynne Cooper Harvey, in May 2008.
Harvey is survived by his son Paul.
ABC News- “Radio Legend Paul Harvey Dies” abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/Story
Washington Post- “Beloved Radio Broadcaster Paul Harvey Dies at 90” www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/28/AR2009022802096.html