Sunday, March 01, 2009

mic flag at half-staff

Paul Harvey loved his job so much that the only thing that could stop him was his death yesterday at age 90. He had been recently slowed by illness and by the loss of his wife Angel. For most of us, Harvey was on the air our entire lives and the airwaves will feel emptier without him.

I used to make a point of timing my commute home from WAVA to coincide with "The Rest of the Story." It aired during the Trumbull & Core show on WMAL. In the privacy of my car, I would shout out the name of the person I thought Harvey might be talking about. When I didn't know, I always guessed Abraham Lincoln, which was often the right answer.

The late David Haines had no problem with people thinking he sounded like Paul Harvey. Haines so admired Harvey that he recorded his idol's 8:30 a.m. newscast each day. Often Haines would be in the middle of his own newscast on WAVA but could reach over and press the record button on his AM/FM cassette machine without missing a beat.

Harvey set the standard for any announcer ever given the opportunity to do an endorsement commercial. He only spoke on behalf of products that he believed in, which meant that many potential sponsors were turned away. Don't tell me you wouldn't love to have one of those tankless water heaters he advertised.

Over the years I fell out of the habit of listening to Paul Harvey through no fault of his. The stations in Los Angeles and Knoxville didn't air his programs at a time that was especially convenient for me. In fact, I don't think the news/talk station here runs him at all. Now that he's gone, I want nothing more than to hear him again. Maybe there are some classic podcasts I can download from somewhere.

There are some assorted clips on YouTube including a "Letter from God" and a few examples of "The Rest of the Story." His Chicago flagship, WGN Radio, has an online tribute page with several audio clips available, including the classic phrase: "Stand by for news!"

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Blogger bean said...

frank, you don't disappoint. i've been checking in all morning knowing your post today would be about mr. harvey and i was so looking forward to what you had to say about him.

nearly everybody reading this has heard paul harvey on the radio - he was the most listened to announcer ever - but those of us in the business are really taking the loss personally today.

he made us realize how much was possible as a broadcaster and how effective our medium can be at making each listener feel that the guy on the radio is talking directly to them.

every paul harvey newscast was a masterclass in great content, good humor and lawless timing.

r.i.p. paul and say hello to angel for me.

Anonymous 101 said...

His voice and words will be missed!

Blogger the_fool_monty said...

Well written Frank. He will be missed dearly.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your right Frank, he will be missed. He has almost been that icon for radio. He was played on WIVK, and I know that his son has taken over, and sounds very much like him.

I think that he had the voice and the personality, and really told it how it was. You could get caught up in his broadcast, like he was telling you a story


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