Sunday, March 01, 2009

Rest in Peace, Paul Harvey

As a child, I grew up watching my father listen to Paul Harvey on the radio. Even before I paid any attention to the words Harvey spoke, I was impressed by the power he held to make my melancholy parent smile.

Daddy came home for lunch every day, turned on the radio and waited for Paul Harvey while he ate (and had a maintenance shot of whiskey). I would emerge from wherever I was and sit quietly, to watch with awe the magic Harvey's unmistakeable voice and quirky sense of humor worked on my unpredictable parent.

When the show ended, Daddy would get up, kiss Mom goodbye, kiss me next and return to work.

I learned to love Harvey's rich, fulsome voice and to anticipate the daily pauses before he finished sentences. "And now . . . the rest of the story."

My mother was a voracious reader who taught me early the power of the written word. Before that, however, it was Paul Harvey who showed me the power of the spoken word. I observed with wonderment the impact his short fables and pointed editorials had on my father.

As I grew older, I became uncomfortable with the obvious devices intended to evoke emotional responses and with the mixing of commercial content with editorial content. Newly sophisticated, I fell out of the daily Paul Harvey habit.

For the last twenty years, the only times I've heard Harvey have been when I've crossed the country by car. During those long stretches between urban areas, I scan radio stations for something other than weather reports and farm futures. Two seconds was all it ever took for me to recognize his Oklahoma accent and deliberate delivery style.

Nevertheless, I grieved when I heard of his death yesterday. I had not planned to post today, but remembering Harvey and my father prompted this post.

Harvey once said, "When I was a child, I ran away to join the radio."

The world will be a poorer place without Paul Harvey.

May he rest in peace.


K. said...

Whatever the rest of the story is (if there is one), Paul knows it now.

Maya Reynolds said...

Of course, there's a rest of the story. Fairy tales always have happy endings for the heroes. [grin]



Sharon said...

Years ago I listened to Paul Harvey every day at noon on a local radio station. I started to think of him as the "Reader's Digest" version of a radio personality, condensed version with a bias. He filled a niche and he will be missed.

Stephen Parrish said...

I grew up just south of Chicago, in Paul Harvey Country. Everyone should aspire to beat a drum as unique as his.

As for the advertising thing: he only pushed products he truly believed in.

Good day!