In the dreary days of fall and winter in 1960s Albuquerque, I would hurry home from school at lunchtime and enter the warm house for a comforting sensory experience. The kitchen would smell of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Dad would be sitting at the end of the table, he being home for work from lunch. The radio would be tuned to KDEF 1150 AM, the ABC Radio affiliate at that time in Albuquerque. And just as my siblings and I sat down at the table, at the stroke of noon, the radio would thunder, “Hello, Americans! This is Paul Harvey! Stand by for NEWS!”
For more than sixty years, Paul Harvey’s distinctive voice could be heard over the airwaves, an exemplar of stability in an unstable industry and unpredictable world. His ABC show, which began in 1951, was called Paul Harvey News & Comment, for he was not the least bit shy about adding his plain-spoken commentary to the broadcast.
Paul Harvey died February 28, 2009, at age 90. His death comes less than a year after the death of his wife, Lynn Cooper Aurandt, whom he always called “Angel” and who was his producer for many years.
A conservative for the most part, Harvey’s positions shifted as time went by. In 1970, he sharply criticized President Richard Nixon for expanding the Vietnam War into Cambodia. Harvey’s son, Paul Harvey Aurandt, Jr., was a conscientious objector during that war.
Harvey’s broadcasts included folksy, populist stories as well as recognition of couples married for lengthy periods. He also read commercials for products he endorsed. Criticized for this, he signaled that a commercial was coming by saying, “Now, page 2.”
In 1976, Harvey began the popular series “The Rest of the Story,” a compilation of historical vignettes that ended with a little twist. The audience would try to guess what the end would be. Harvey would conclude with “And now you know . . . the REST of the story!” Most of these were written by Paul, Jr.
The broadcasts were true family affairs. Wife Lynn was producer and Paul, Jr, was writer and announcer. A typical broadcast was structured something like this:
PAUL: Hello, Americans! This is Paul Harvey! Stand by for NEWS!
(National Commercial Spot)
PAUL, JR: And now, Paul Harvey News
PAUL: (Begins newscast)
PAUL: Now, Page Two . . .
PAUL: (Reads commercial for endorsed product)
PAUL: (Continues newscast).
PAUL: And in our “For What It’s Worth Department . . . (story with commentary)
PAUL: Jane and John Doe, high school sweethearts, married 70 years today!
PAUL: (End of news) Paul Harvey . . . Good Day!
PAUL, JR.; Paul Harvey News and Comment, brought to you by (product). This is the ABC Radio Network.
There once was a time when children rose early in the morning to watch on television a grown man with the strange name of “Captain Kangaroo,” and fathers came home for lunch on weekdays and in the evenings, another man who looked a bit like the Captain brought news into our living rooms. Paul Harvey’s broadcasts outlived all those other cultural icons.
Coming up later in the week: Paul Harvey–The Rest of the Story! A GeneaBlogie special investigation reveals facts about “America’s Broadcaster” that you’ll find few places other than here at GeneaBlogie!
March 1, 2009 Sunday at 6:31 am