Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paul Harvey.... Good Day!

Consummate Broadcaster Paul Harvey, dead at 90 years old:

(image courtesy WDJO Radio)

He was a broadcast legend; the early and great pioneer in the Conservative broadcast movement.

Although Mr. Paul Harvey has been working for ABC for 50 years, I became aware of him first as a teenager listening to him during the early 1970s on WGN-AM radio in Chicago. I grew up in the neighborhood of Roosevelt and Harlem in Berwyn, Illinois, just a number of blocks away from his home in Oak Park. His dulcitone voice, his trademark inflection and pregnant pauses immediately drew in the listener and made them a part of his world for 15 minutes a day, 6 days a week. Mr. Harvey was a "broadcaster's broadcaster." Oh, there were broadcasters, who would "announce" the news; and then there was Paul, who didn't merely announce the news; he drew you in to his living room, discussed it with you; not as a reporter, but as a confidant. Harvey commanded attention, respect, and instant credibility. His inimitable style became a personal inspiration to me as a 21-year entering the field of broadcasting in my early years as a commercial writer, producer, and voice-over talent.

Part of my duties as the lowest on the totem pole of a staff of four writers for WAXX/WAYY was to sit at the board of WAYY, tape Paul Harvey at 10:30am on the trusty Magnacord reel-to-reel, and at noon sharp pause the radio's automation system, and air the show. As the Paul Harvey "News and Comments" program would play, it would be my duty to listen for his declaration of "Page Three!" This was the cue to stop the tape and to run the only available local spot commercial, cue the tape past the PSA (public service announcement) and have the remainder of the show ready to run at the end of the 60 second spot. At the end of the program, it was my time to shine on real-live radio, as I would make the following announcment, "You have been listening to Paul Harvey News & Comments on Am-1150, WAYY; brought to you by Arrowhead Lodge; the time is 12:15pm, temperature is 54 degrees!" (My parents, who lived 70 miles away in Auburndale, Wisconsin, would listen every day. It was their way of knowing that their kid was still alright).

At any rate, Paul Harvey was a guiding force in my delivery as a commercial voiceover talent; in not simply "announcing" a product, but rather in bringing a listener in and capturing his or her attention and imaginaton via expression and voice dynamics.

Though Paul Harvey was not a far-right conservative, he was the closest thing to being conservative that could be found for the time on any medium. In the days when the "Fairness" Doctrine was in its heyday, and the espousing of conservative values was nearly unheard of, Harvey's voice was an early guidepost that would eventually guide my thinking toward conservative values. His unshakeable optimism made you feel great about being an American, even during the malaise of the Ford and Carter years. And to this day I can remember the moment and could almost hear him speak word for word of the great things that would come about at the dawn of the Reagan Revolution, as I was making my way on Highway 124 from Chicago to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, for my first radio gig.

I have a collection of old radios; every night I am lulled to sleep by bluetooth headphones as my smart phone is streaming Antioch Radio. No doubt that TV programs and movies are grand; but nothing can beat the theatre of the mind and personalization of experience proffered by the radio medium.

For this reason, and to this day I remain a rabid fan of radio; and I can attribute my devotion to it directly to Mr. Paul Harvey.

Closed-circuit to Mr. Paul Harvey-- Well done, sir! Well done!