Sunday, March 1, 2009

Paul Harvey: 1918-2009







The radio commentator who spoke directly to the American public and all points around the world via Armed Forces radio died on February 28th at the age of 90. Paul Harvey could be heard on over a thousand radio stations, the often quoted total being no fewer than 1,200 domestically. I elected to write my little Paul Harvey remembrance/salute here in my animation blog because Paul could be very animated in his delivery of a line or a word in his sentences...and his pauses and speech pattern all added to the legend. His speaking voice has often been parodied and imitated here in the Midwest by local comedians.

The career of Paul Harvey goes back to his teenage years...where he'd build radio sets for himself...and this love of radio caused him to seek a career in broadcasting. He got his start on radio, locally, in the 1930's and became affiliated with network radio in the 1940's. His national exposure began in 1951 when he joined the ABC Radio network, a company for which he remained with for the rest of his storied career. From the beginning of his radio talks he often gave his comments about the news of the day and mostly all of these opinions and comments were of a conservative nature...broadcasting for the most part from in and around the Chicago AM radio market his biggest core audience was heavily midwestern...at one point his radio commentaries spawned television commentaries...loosely based on his radio program.

In one of the more unique aspects of Paul Harvey's career is that he rarely granted interviews and when he did appear on television he was pretty much what you might expect to "see" if you could watch him work at the radio studio's...a man in a suit and tie, looking debonair almost, sitting at a desk reading the news into a microphone. His venture into television isn't nearly as memorable as his radio work simply because not many television markets carried Paul's minute and a half commentary feature. I was one of the fortunate ones who lived, and still live, in Southern Ohio and we had the Dayton, Ohio market as part of our television package. Each weekday around 12:20pm on WHIO-TV Paul Harvey would appear sitting or standing delivering a commentary...often with an atlas behind him since his news features spanned the globe.

The You Tube clip above spotlights a 1985 commentary from Paul...who at the time was 67. The clip comes from a local news channel elsewhere in the country, not from Ohio. The pictures above the video is an obituary, of sorts, actually a newspaper tribute/memorial article and along with that is a picture of an issue of Saturday Evening Post from 2003. I have both of those articles in my possession. I bought that magazine when it was "hot off the presses" six years ago specifically because Paul was on the cover. I also, at one time, had a copy of the book "For What It's Worth" from the early 1990's, which was a collection of comedic and strange items straight from the Paul Harvey noon news reports. In his career he delivered an early morning "News and Comment" feature which typically ran close to ten minutes and then during the noon time, "Paul Harvey News" would air, and this was an expanded edition of the morning news cast and ran 15 minutes on most days. This noon report featured more in-detailed news items and commentary. Aside from those two daily radio features you also had "The Rest of the Story", which actually began in the mid 1970's, I believe 1976...this feature was syndicated as well and ran 5 days a week like his news and comment segments.

Unlike his news reports/commentaries, this "Rest of the Story" was purely designed for story-telling/entertainment in which Paul would deliver a story about someone who ends up to be revealed as a famous singer, actor, politician, or some other kind of celebrity. The hook was Paul delivering obscure anecdotes and little known information that was gathered and put together, usually by his son, Paul Harvey Jr., and by stories end he reveals who he's been talking about throughout the story...ending each broadcast with "...and now you know...the REST of the story...".

It would take days to list and research the awards that Paul has won during his 60 plus years in radio news and so I won't. His broadcasts will be missed by the millions who would "stand by" for his program. In a bit of irony, the classic country radio station that I listen to was set to start broadcasting Paul Harvey's news program package starting this coming Monday...and he's passed away before such an event could take place.

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