It is with great sadness tonight that I read of the death of radio giant Paul Harvey. His may have been the most enduring and memorable voice to grace our nation's airwaves in the history of radio.
Harvey died today in Phoenix at the age of ninety. He had been doing many of his regular programs up until recently, originating from his adopted hometown of Chicago. His son, Paul Harvey, Jr., (who often substituted for his dad in recent years) told ABC Radio tonight: "Millions have lost a friend."
Count me among those millions. I have listened to Paul Harvey almost daily since my dad began driving me to school in the fall of 1965, when I was in first grade. Harvey was one of the reasons I got hooked on broadcasting at such a young age. My dad owned a Wollensak tape recorder with a big stand-up microphone, just like those used at radio stations in the 1960s. We'd pretend we were announcers or DJs. Almost forty-five years later, I still appear on radio quite often.
Paul Harvey had a folksy style, and he wrote most of his own material. In broadcasting school, we learned that what you don't say is almost as important as what you do say. The "dramatic pause" in script reading was invented by Paul Harvey.
My University of Florida classmate Deborah Tyler spent a year as one of Paul Harvey's writers in the mid 1980s. This was when he was sixty-five. She told me he was tireless, and wrote and rewrote his copy to perfection. She said he was an absolute genius, who was always coming up with new business ideas, when most people his age were retiring. He lived and worked another twenty-five years, which is amazing.
Harvey was one of the few conservative commentators in broadcasting, something for which he was widely praised or condemned, depending on one's political persuasion. He once said the two biggest mistakes in his career were to say Elvis Pressley was a "flash-in-the-pan" and his long support for the Vietnam War. His son, Paul, Jr., was a conscientious objector, who finally convinced his dad the war should end.
Paul Harvey wrote many books and dabbled in TV from time to time, but was--in his heart of hearts--a radio man. His fascinating tales on historic trivia, known as "The Rest of the Story," are classics.
We in the broadcasting industry and his millions of fans will miss him. He probably wrote his own epitaph, with his end of broadcast sign off line, "Paul Harvey, Good Day!"