Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Paul Signs Off

Paul signed on to this world just as the First World War was coming to an end.

Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he was a child of three when his father, a police officer, was gunned down in 1921 by four would-be robbers.

All four were eventually tried, convicted, received life terms. It is likely they were haunted by the sound of Paul's voice for some time.

A high school teacher took note of that distinctive voice and launched him on a career that began at KVOO in Tulsa where his first job was to help clean the place up. Eventually, Paul was allowed to fill in on the air, reading commercials and the odd newscast.

With radio in his blood, Paul left Tulsa to hit the airwaves in Salina, Kansas, Oklahoma City, and St. Louis, where he bumped into Washington University graduate student Lynne Cooper. Ever the gentleman, Paul invited Lynne to dinner, proposed to her after a few minutes of conversation and from then on called her "Angel," even on his radio show.

A year later , Lynne said yes.

The couple moved to Chicago in 1945.

Three years later, their only child arrived, a son named, Paul Jr.

With "Angel" in his corner, Paul quickly became the most popular newscaster in Chicago. By the early 1950's the ABC Radio Network began featuring Paul's commentary nationwide and he eventually became a familiar voice to millions through more than five decades of programs that encompassed his unique blend of news, commentary and analysis. Through it all, "Angel" was by his side; an astute business partner and producer, she was to Paul what Colonel Parker was to Elvis Presley. And as for Paul Jr., he would eventually create, produce and serve as the only writer for his father's longest running series.

The format never varied.

Paul would hook his listeners with a fascinating account of someone’s struggle up the ladder, then, after a dramatic pause, stun them with the identity of that hero. His idiosyncratic delivery featured staccato pacing, quirky intonations and homespun folksiness.

“And now,” Paul would conclude, caressing each syllable as though it were a precious gem, “you know the rest of the story.”

Paul Harvey passed away this past weekend at the age of 90, surrounded by family at a hospital in Phoenix, where he had a winter home.

His death coming less than a year after that of Lynne, as Paul reunites with his "Angel".

"My father and mother created from thin air what one day became radio and television news," Paul Harvey Jr. said in a statement. "So in the past year, an industry has lost its godparents and today millions have lost a friend."

At the peak of his career, Paul Harvey reached more than 24 million listeners on more than 1,200 radio stations and charged $30,000 to give a speech. His syndicated column was carried by 300 newspapers.

Perhaps Harvey's most famous broadcast came in 1970, when he abandoned his pro-Vietnam stance, announcing his opposition to President Nixon's expansion of the war. Paul wanted America out completely. "Mr. President, I love you ... but you're wrong," Harvey said, shocking faithful listeners and drawing a barrage of letters and phone calls, including one from the White House.

And now that he has finally arrived at the pearly gates, leave it to Paul to have already gathered, written and composed one of his best stories ever.

And now you know the end of the story.

"I've never seen a monument erected to a pessimist"
PAUL HARVEY (1918-2009)


1 comment:

Brian Cormier said...

The last quote in that post is one of my favourites... and it's so true!