February 28, 2009, - 8:00 pm
Paul Harvey, a REAL Great American, RIP: Radio Legend Dead at 90; Good-Bye, Americans/Stand By for Heaven
By Debbie Schlussel
**** SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE: Paul Harvey not always so great on Mid-East ****
We hear some people on the radio, by implication, refer to themselves as a “Great American,” when they call their anonymous listeners “Great Americans” as a compliment-fishing expedition.
But, today, a REAL GREAT AMERICAN in radio died. Paul Harvey was 90 years old when he passed away. I just heard about it on a special ABC News breaking report, and it’s not yet on the net as I write this. UPDATE: Read ABC News Radio’s statement on Paul Harvey’s death.
Harvey was a true radio legend whose voice was heard on radio for well over a half-century. A syndicated fixture in American radio, Paul Harvey was an American patriot, an important and influential conservative, and a person who stood for American values and culture the way they used to be. Like his values, Paul Harvey’s daily syndicated riffs on unusual stories in the news–stories of our escalating downward degradation and definition of deviance–were regular listening for millions of Americans.
Post-9/11, Harvey came under fire from the Council on American-Islamic Relations for recognizing that the true national security problem America faces is not terrorism, but Islam. He correctly said that Islam “encourages killing” and noted the relationship between Islam and violence. Sadly, ABC Radio forced him to issue a statement saying that “Islam is a religion of peace,” but you know he didn’t believe it. (Robert Spencer wrote a good summary on this.) Harvey was always a conservative and always pro-American and pro-Israel . . . before conservatives embraced that. **** CORRECTION, 03/01/09: Apparently, that’s not correct. See “J”‘s comment, below, on Paul Harvey’s anti-Israel sentiment. ****
President Bush awarded Harvey the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and while it was well-deserved, it was long overdue for this great patriot and model American man.
Harvey tried TV, but he couldn’t make it in that field. Instead, he stuck with and continued to succeed in a medium whose obituary was, as Mark Twain would say, greatly exaggerated, and remained a tremendous influence on a significant, but shrinking, portion of the American public listening to newstalk radio.
Though his approach seemed old fashioned to me, it was an “old-fashioned” style for which we are all nostalgic and which I grew to appreciate and like a lot–like your avuncular grandfather or great-grandfather looking at a world gone awry in amazement that it keeps getting worse. His values were conservative in a country ever growing more and more uncivilized and out of whack.
He didn’t have to wantonly call other people “Great Americans” to get confirmation that he was one, himself. Instead, he began his broadcasts by simply saying:
Hello, Americans. This is Paul Harvey.
Mr. Harvey moved to Hawaii in 1940 to cover the U.S. Navy as it began to concentrate its fleet in the Pacific. He was returning to the United States from that assignment when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Paul Harvey enlisted into the Army Air Corps, where he served until 1944.
After leaving the corps, Mr. Harvey moved to Chicago, where in June 1944, he began broadcasting from the ABC affiliate WENR-AM. He quickly became the most listened-to newscaster in Chicago.
Paul Harvey reached audiences way beyond the windy city in 1951, when he began his coast-to-coast “News and Comment” on the ABC Radio Networks. On May 10, 1976, Mr. Harvey began another series of programs on the ABC Radio Networks entitled “The Rest of the Story”, which delve into the forgotten or little known facts behind stories of famous people and events.
Today, Paul Harvey “News and Comment” and “The Rest of the Story” can be heard every Monday through Saturday. Paul Harvey News is the largest one-man network in the world, consisting of over 1200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations that broadcast around the world, and 300 newspapers.
In my book and that of many Americans, his loss will not be replaced. He is one of the people who helped continue to make America great. He was a true gentleman, who always conducted himself with dignity and class.
I, for one, will miss Paul Harvey’s standard phrase that doesn’t sound the same when it’s done by his fill-ins . . .
Stand By for News.
Paul Harvey, a REAL Great American, Rest in Peace.
And Now You Know the Rest of the Story. Good Day.
**** UPDATE, 03/01/09: My friend, conservative author and writer “J,” writes that Paul Harvey wasn’t always so great on the Mid-East:
Maybe his voice–and dramatic pauses–stopped evincing dislike, distrust, and dismay at Israel before you started listening to him in earnest, but there’s no question that Harvey believed America’s special relationship with Israel was unwise for America. That vocal sneer he’d get when talking about West Bank skirmishes or something was unmistakable. And if I’m not mistaken, he gave off the same vibe about Gulf War 1. Whether he evolved or not, I don’t know, but Harvey began and remained, for sure through Vietnam, an unabashed America Firster. I bet he shared a lot more in common with Ron Paul than he would’ve wanted anyone to know.
I stand corrected.