Sunday, March 29, 2009

Paul Harvey

The voice of Middle America is gone. Paul Harvey has passed away.

Like many listeners, I first heard Paul Harvey while on family vacations, interminably long trips to Florida or Colorado when I was a youngster. There is absolutely nothing good to say about the flat desolation that is Kansas, other than at twelve sharp you could turn the AM radio a few turns left or right and hear the voice of Paul Harvey. There was a dry stretch while I was in high school and college, but when I got older, I got hooked again, listening to Paul Harvey News & Comment when driving to lunch on almost every Saturday. At a still later date, Paul (along with the pre-merger XM Radio and old Bob & Ray CDs) kept me sane while I was long-distance dating my future Minnesota wife from my home in Indiana. It didn't matter where I was en route, Paul was always on some station somewhere.

I might have disagreed with his politics, but I appreciated the way he presented them. Instead of the bile and hatred that is right-wing talk radio today, Paul was decent and civil, putting his point across without viciously attacking those who disagreed with him. Rush and Sean and all the other blathering heads could learn something from Paul's honorable approach.

What I found most appealing about Paul Harvey was the same thing I appreciated about Johnny Carson. Both men had kind of a Midwestern decency about them. They may have hung out with movie stars and corporate bigwigs, but they didn't act like it or sound like it. Each of them seemed like the guy who lived next door, maybe a special uncle, someone who paid special attention to the old lady standing behind them in line at the grocery store. Paul and Johnny were just as interested in the couple celebrating their 50th anniversary or the old woman who collected potato chips as they were in the short-lived "celebrities" of the day. A true interest in everyone they met or read about, that's the common factor, and the ability to directly relate to their listeners and viewers. I miss that about both of these men.

I certainly will miss having Paul Harvey to listen to on the radio. Even though he wasn't there every day in the past few years (illness, old age, and the death of his wife cut into his schedule), noontime was always a little special when that booming voice came over my car radio speakers. I was always ready to "stand by for news," and my day wasn't good until Paul said it was -- with his trademark long pause. He may have been a product of another time, but there must have been something worthwhile about those days to produce someone as interested in and genuinely excited about human affairs as Paul Harvey.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.


Lori Cates Hand said...

Mike--I totally agree with you. Thank you for putting into words what I had been thinking. Paul Harvey was a big part of my childhood. Just a few months ago I got to hear him one last time while on a car trip. He still brought a smile to my face.

Anonymous said...

Great piece. I'll never forget Paul Harvey and his "and now for the rest of the story."
Sandi Cary