Sunday, March 1, 2009

Paul Harvey Passes On

Radio broadcaster Paul Harvey passed yesterday at the age of 90.

Paul Harvey was born Paul Harvey Aurandt on September 4, 1918 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was interested in radio from a young age, making radio receivers. In 1933 he started working at KVOO in Tulsa on a teacher's suggestion. Initially only cleaning up, he was eventually allowed on the air to read the news and do commercials. He continued to work at KVOO, first as an announcer and then as a programme director, while attending the University of Tulsa. After graduation he worked as a station manger at KFBI in Abilene, Kansas. Afterwards he work first as a newscaster in KOMA in Oklahoma City and later as Director of Special Events and roving reporter for KXOK in St. Louis.In 1940 Harvey went to Hawaii to cover the United States fleet in the Pacific. He returned home not long before the attack on Pearl Harbour. Harvey served breifly in the United States Army Air Force during the war. He was released on an honourable discharge after a training injury.

After leaving the service in 1944, Harvey moved to Chicago and went to work for ABC affiliate WENR in Chicago. In 1945 he started hosting Jobs for G.I. Joe, a job employment programme, on WENR. It was in 1946 that Paul Harvey began a practice that would make him a success. He would begin a feature story, only to pause for a commercial break with a promise to deliver "...the Rest of the Story." "The Rest of the Story" spots would be made into a series all their own by ABC News in 1976.

Paul Harvey was immensely popular as a broadcaster, so much so that ABC debuted Paul Harvey News and Comment in 1951. The show continued until now, making it the longest single radio show of all time. From the late Sixties into the early Eighties, ABC also produced a five-minute editorial by Paul Harvey which local stations could choose to place within their own news programmes or air separately.

As a broadcaster, Paul Harvey was very idiosyncratic, relying on dramatic pauses, his own particular inflections, and using certain catchphrases repeatedly. He generally opened his broadcasts with "Hello Americans! This is Paul Harvey. Stand by! For news!" And, of course, there was the classic " a minute, you're going to hear ... the rest of the story." In fact, Harvey's voice and style are so identified with him that Harvey has inspired a good number of impersonations over the years.

Paul Harvey was also the author of several books, including Autumn of Liberty (1956), The Rest of the Story (1956), Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story (1977), and so on.

I cannot say that I always agreed with Paul Harvey. He had a tendency to see things from a conservative point of view which runs counter to my own. And Harvey was apparently not always careful about checking his facts--some of the stories he reported have turned out to be urban legends. While Harvey's value as a newscaster may have been dubious, he was great as a storyteller. Even with the conservative bent, I always enjoyed him as a storyteller. With his deep voice and dramatic pauses, no one could tell a story like Paul Harvey. In there any wonder Paul Harvey remained popular and retained sponsors for decades. Though no newsman, as an entertainer he was great.

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