Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Paul Harvey ... Good day

Note: This appeared as an op-ed in the Valley City Times-Record.

Paul Harvey died on February 28, 2009, at the age of 90 in Phoenix, Arizona, surrounded by family and friends and mourned by millions around the world.

There will never be another broadcaster like him, and I'm quite confident making that assertion. Paul Harvey started in radio in 1933 in Tulsa, Oklahoma when he was 15 years old, first as a janitor and soon after as a news and commercials reader. That doesn't happen anymore. It probably isn't even legal.

Harvey had an idiosyncratic cadence in his delivery that once heard, was never forgotten. When his program was carried on TV, you saw just what you expected, a face and body language that matched his voice perfectly.

I first encountered Harvey many years ago on TV in my grandmother's house in Ponca City, Oklahoma. I was never a follower, I'm not of the radio generation. I just seemed to run into him from time to time, whenever I was someplace near a radio. It wasn't hard to run into Harvey, he broadcast News and Comment on weekday mornings and mid-days, to an audience estimated at 22 million people.

There were things he did, and got away with, that few others would have dared. For one, he read his own commercials. Salon magazine called him the "finest huckster ever to roam the airwaves."

Maybe so. Others might call it, “not biting the hand that feeds you.”

Harvey said, "I am fiercely loyal to those willing to put their money where my mouth is."

For another, he went out of his way to chronicle good news. News about people being decent and good to other people. And however much we in the news business may decry “sensationalism,” we never really lose sight of the adage, “if it bleeds, it leads.”

When Harvey did note and comment on the foibles of humanity, he usually did so with irony and a certain sadness rather than the outrage-for-public-consumption we're used to from today's talking heads.

Politically he is considered conservative. But he was an Old Right, Paleo-conservative. In foreign policy he was isolationist. But unlike the Left isolationists who cried ”American imperialism” was corrupting the world, Harvey warned the United States that dealing with dictatorships was corrupting our country.

Just as Lyndon Johnson had his Walter Cronkeit moment when the liberal Cronkeit came out publicly against the Vietnam war, Nixon had his Paul Harvey moment.

“Mr. President, we love you, but you're wrong,” was what America heard from the other most trusted man in America.

That's how Harvey would disagree with you. I don't think anyone ever heard a gratuitous personal insult from Harvey, or ever the slightest implication that disagreeing with him made you a bad person.

Harvey was what we call a social conservative these days. He did not approve of the commercialization of sex, and made no secret of it. But he was not a joyless prude and did have a wry sense of humor about it.

On one occasion he related the results of a survey about... which anatomical features of men women look at most, and chuckled, “After all guys, it is their turn.”

Paul Harvey ... Good day.

1 Comments:

  • At 7:50 AM, Blogger Ted said…

    This is the first I've heard of his demise.
    Suspected he was in poor-failing health came when people started trying to fill his shoes...That never happened before, and can't be done.
    Another of this country's great lights has gone out.

     

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