An Irreplaceable National Icon is Gone: Paul Harvey Aurandt, 1918-2009

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)

(Local spot)

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!


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6 Responses to “An Irreplaceable National Icon is Gone: Paul Harvey Aurandt, 1918-2009”

  • Daniel Heath de Butts says:

    I looked forward to the news every day by Paul Harvey and The Rest of The Story. At his death I bought two books on Paul ,I already had one on The Rest of The Story and looked forward to hearing Paul Jr. on the Radio with things of his own not continuing on with his father’s style. I hope he comes up with something soon as I miss his father being on the radio. There is a talent there that ought on to be unused.

  • […] disconcerting one Friday to find him there when I came home from school for lunch.  Another man, a man from Oklahoma, was usually there at lunchtime.  Dad would be sitting at the end of the table eating a bowl of […]

  • Greta Koehl says:

    I remember watching Captain Kangaroo and listening to Paul Harvey when I was growing up. I’m starting to feel like a fossil!

  • Denise Olson says:

    I spent many a lunch hour listening to Paul Harvey’s news. For years it was my main news source. He will always have a special place in my heart.

  • T.K. says:

    Moultrie Creek’s tweet about Paul Harvey’s death was the first thing I saw this morning. What a sad way to start the day! I’ll miss hearing him. His voice and distinctive style are unforgettable. Looking forward to The Rest of the Story, Craig!

  • When I was growing up in 1960s near Montreal, Quebec we didn’t listen to a lot of American news shows – at least not in my house.
    However we were all fans of Paul Harvey’s shows. There was something about his voice and the quality of his broadcasts that really appealed to a lot of us up here in Canada.
    Thanks for reminding me of an important voice from my past.
    Evelyn in Montreal

March 2009
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