Paul Harvey, the venerable radio pioneer broadcaster, died at the age of 90 on February 28th, 2009. It can be safely said that there was no one like Paul Harvey on the air ways before and there will likely be no one like Paul Harvey afterwards.
Paul Harvey started his radio career while still in high school in the 1930s, reading news stories and commercials at radio station KVOO in his native Tulsa, Oklahoma. Paul Harvey eventually became Program Director.
After working at a variety of radio stations in the mid west, Paul Harvey found himself in Hawaii covering the US Navy in 1940. Ironically Paul Harvey was on his way back to the American mainland when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Paul Harvey served for most of World War II in the US Army Air Force.
The genesis of Paul Harvey’s iconic radio show, Paul Harvey News and Comment, started in 1951 on the ABC radio network and continued ever since. A separate program, The Rest of the Story, which provided obscure anecdotes about famous people premiered in 1976. The Rest of the Story would always provide a little unexpected twist at the end that people hitherto were not familiar with,
Paul Harvey’s delivery style was unique, with pregnant pauses (in violation of the usual broadcasting taboo against dead air), catch phrases such as “I’m Paul Harvey and stand by for news”, and his habit, often criticized, of seamlessly segueing from news to commercials without hint of where one ended and the other began. Paul Harvey’s politics were definitely right of center, which is something else that he was criticized for. In his own defense, Paul Harvey would maintain that he would never advertise a product that he did not believe in.
Paul Harvey is credited with creating a number of catch phrases, including “Reganomics”, “guestimate”, and “skyjacker.” Paul thus demonstrated the power of mass media to shape the English language.
His critics claimed that Paul Harvey was a relic of a bygone era, with simplistic patriotism and folksy bromides out of step with the sophisticated audiences of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries.
But if Paul Harvey was a relic, he was a relic that persisted in being successful. Paul Harvey’s fifteen minute show was carried on 1200 radio stations, roughly twice those that carry Rush Limbaugh. Paul Harvey has gotten praise from people of disparate backgrounds as Rush Limbaugh and Garrison Keillor. If Paul Harvey refused to change with the changing times, there was something about that quality that many people obviously appreciated. Nations would rise and fall, fashions come and go, but Paul Harvey seemed eternal.
But nothing is eternal. In his later years, Paul Harvey’s radio appearances between fewer and further between as grief from the death of his wife Lynne and illness took his toll. But even at age 90, Paul Harvey would still record episodes of his shows, now shared by his son Paul Jr.
Paul Harvey’s career spanned the history of radio, from its golden age in the 1930s, to the Internet, where his shows were carried on live stream. There are not that many people to whom one compare Paul Harvey. Lowell Thomas, the print and broadcast journalist who made Lawrence of Arabia famous, had a career and a life similer in length to Paul Harvey. Walter Cronkite had a career than spanned newspapers, radio, TV news, and TV documentaries for many decades. But there somehow was never another Paul Harvey, with his familier, on air persona and his idiosyncratic way of delivering his broadcasts. When Paul Harvey finally died, it can be said that a legend had passed away.
Source: Paul Harvey, Wikipedia
Broadcaster Delivered ‘The Rest of the Story’, Joe Holley, Washington Post, March 1, 2009