Sunday, March 1, 2009

“Hello, America…this is Paul Harvey…”

Since life is indeed a precious gift, and can be taken away in an instant, we’re often saddened upon hearing that a famous movie, television or radio personality is no longer with us…but that we hope has gone on to his or her greater reward.

I must confess, hearing that radio newsman/commentator Paul Harvey has shuffled off this mortal coil at the age of 90 is a bit of a stunner, though. Harvey was just one of those fixed constants in life; a man who just…well, always seemed to be there. Sort of like in the movies, when someone turns on a radio and just manages to catch the newscast that relates to the film’s plot—be it an individual escaping from prison or another pulling off a successful bank robbery.

That was Paul Harvey. Not to insinuate that he just busted out of the jernt or was speeding away from a heist in a stolen car, you understand. But it seemed as if when you turned on the radio—he would at the ready, telling you to “stand by for news!”

I’ll come clean and confess that I honestly can’t remember the last time I listened to a Harvey newscast. As I got older, Harvey’s conservative slant to reporting wasn’t my particular cup of Earl Grey. Even his famous The Rest of the Story started to sound a little creaky, particularly when I noticed a distinct correlation between the “truth” in those segments and the authenticity of Bill Stern’s Colgate Sports Newsreel, a program that was undeniably an influence on both Harvey’s style and his popular feature. Still, I had a great deal of affection for the man as a broadcasting institution; his staccato style and dramatic pauses lending themselves to easy impersonation (I used to do a fairly good Harvey, but I’m out of practice—though I couldn’t even come close to Ray Goulding’s “Paul Hardly” in the 1971 satire Cold Turkey) but always with respect. Like his contemporary Walter Winchell, Harvey was credited with adding a few vocabulary words to the national lexicon: “skyjacker,” “Reaganomics”…and one that I still use frequently on both this blog and in real life, “guesstimate.”

Paul Harvey…unfortunately, it’s not a “good day.” R.I.P., sir.

1 comment:

Edward Copeland said...

The one Paul Harvey story I always remember was when he used to appear on Good Morning America in the early days and told the story of two women considering aborting their children but both deciding against it. The rest of the story: One woman would have deprived us of Abraham Lincoln, the other would have spared us from Hitler.