Who is Paul Harvey?
Paul Harvey Aurandt (September 4, 1918 – February 28, 2009) was an American radio broadcaster for ABC News Radio. He broadcast News and Comment on mornings and mid-days on weekdays and at noon on Saturdays and also his famous The Rest of the Story segments. From 1951 to 2008, his programs reached as many as 24 million people per week. Paul Harvey News was carried on 1,200 radio stations, on 400 American Forces Network stations, and in 300 newspapers.
Harvey was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was the son of a policeman who was killed by robbers in 1921. He made radio receivers as a young boy, and attended Tulsa Central High School, where he was two years ahead of future actor Tony Randall. Teacher Isabelle Ronan was “impressed by his voice.” On her recommendation, he started working at KVOO in Tulsa in 1933 helping to clean up when he was 14. He eventually was allowed to fill in on the air by reading commercials and the news.
He continued working at KVOO while he attended the University of Tulsa, first as an announcer and later as a program director. He spent three years as a station manager for KFBI AM, now known as KFDI, a radio station that once had studios in Salina, Kansas. From there, he moved to a newscasting job at KOMA in Oklahoma City, and then to KXOK in St. Louis in 1938 where he was Director of Special Events and a roving reporter.
Harvey’s on-air persona was influenced by sportscaster Bill Stern and columnist Walter Winchell. In the 1940s, Stern’s The Colgate Sports Reel and newsreel programs used many of the techniques later used by Harvey, including his emphatic style of delivery and the use of phrases such as Reel Two and Reel Three to denote segments of the broadcast, much like Harvey’s Page Two and Page Three.
Harvey was also known for the catchphrases that he used at the beginning of his programs, such as “Hello Americans, this is Paul Harvey. Stand by for NEWS!” He always ended, “Paul Harvey… Good day.” or “Paul Harvey… Good night.” A story might be “This day’s news of most lasting significance.” At the end of a report about someone who had done something ridiculous or offensive, Harvey would say, “He would want us to mention his name,” followed by silence, and he would then start the next item. The last item of a broadcast, which was often a funny story, would usually be preceded by “And now from the ‘For-what-it’s-worth’ department….”
Other phrases made famous by Harvey included “Here’s a strange…” (a story with an unusual twist) and “Self-government won’t work without self-discipline.” He also is credited with popularizing the terms Reaganomics and guesstimate.
In addition to the inquiry into whether Harvey’s Rest of the Story tales are true, Harvey’s trademark ability of seamlessly migrating from content to commercial brought scrutiny. In that context, Salon magazine called him the “finest huckster ever to roam the airwaves.” Some have argued that Harvey’s fawning and lavish product endorsements may have been misleading or confusing to his audience. Harvey’s endorsed products included EdenPure heaters, Bose radios, Select Comfort mattresses, and Hi-Health dietary supplements, including a supplement that was claimed to improve vision but was later the subject of a Federal Trade Commission enforcement action against the manufacturer (but not Harvey himself) for misleading claims made on his show. In one of the tribute broadcasts, Gil Gross said that Harvey considered advertising just another type of news and that he endorsed only products that he believed in, often by interviewing someone from the company.
Harvey is caricatured in multiple episodes of Freakazoid!, voiced by Paul Rugg. He is used as a deus ex machina to wrap the plot up by describing its ending, or to give backstories for villains. He also occasionally references his catchphrases of “Good day!” and “Now you know the rest of the story”.
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