Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Paul Harvey (1918-2009)

Having spent a decade in Oklahoma managing public broadcasting stations and teaching, I had the good fortune of meeting several Oklahomans who’ve left a big footprint in the media business.

From Jim Hartz and Betty Boyd to Harry Heath and Bob Allen. Of course, there are many other media folk, including the Gaylord family, who’ve left their mark on the Oklahoma plains and hills.

None, however, enjoyed the recognition, popularity, and notoriety of the late Tulsa native Paul Harvey Aurandt. Known to millions across America and the world simply as Paul Harvey, his daily broadcasts on ABC began 1951 and continued into the 21st century, although he’d stepped aside from the daily chores in 2008. Harvey died February 28th in Phoenix, Arizona. He was 90 years old.

I never considered Paul Harvey a newsman. There was a time I even had a certain disdain for his daily newscasts on ABC Radio. I felt he was a good actor (having done some film work) with a great radio delivery.

After my first couple of decades in broadcasting, including teaching broadcast journalism at Oklahoma State University, I began to at least appreciate the fact that Paul Harvey labeled his broadcast as “News and Comment.” If only we could persuade many new-generation newscasters to do the same.

By the 1990s, I was more comfortable with Paul Harvey as I gained an appreciation for his adherence to what I suppose we today call “traditional values.” Marriages that last. People who work hard. Respect for our elders. Admiration for those who sacrifice their lives for others. What once seemed a bit hokey to me began to make more sense.

Like his musical contemporary from the Dakotas – Lawrence Welk – Harvey was a target of some condescending ridicule for “down home” mannerisms. Both Welk and Harvey, however, parlayed their talents into highly successful careers that have touched millions of lives.

Read an excellent piece about the life of Paul Harvey in this
Time story. Below is a short WGN-Chicago tribute to Paul Harvey.

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