Who was Paul Harvey?
A booming, crystal clear voice that greeted the listeners of radio for six long decades, radio broadcaster Paul Harvey was the voice of radio’s Golden Era. A friendly voice that people listened to with great admiration, his name became synonymous with radio broadcasting of his time. Equally famous for his way of delivering news as he was for presenting commercials, he was a favorite of not just the masses but also of the various companies whose products he endorsed on the radio. His radio programs were heard by more than 24 million people a week, such was the enormity of his popularity. Known for his crisp voice and distinctive style of speaking, he is considered the godfather of radio broadcasting. He was a very active and hardworking man who got up before dawn to start working. His dedication and passion towards his profession did not wane even when he reached his eighties. He was a conservative and his talks reflected his right-wing political views, but what made him different from other broadcasters was the simple language he used and the tales he told of the average American lifestyle that made people connect with him. There was a “folksy” element to his style and that’s why he was one of America’s most loved radio broadcasters.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as Paul Harvey Aurandt on September 4, 1918 to Harry Harrison Aurandt and Anna Dagmar. He had one older sister.
His father was a policeman who was shot to death by robbers when little Paul was just three years old.
He attended Tulsa’s Central High School. There a teacher, Isabelle Ronan was highly impressed by his voice and recognized his potential as a future radio broadcaster.
Ronan took him to the radio station KVOO in 1933 and recommended him to the station manager. He was just 14 at that time and initially he was told to help in cleaning up. With time he was allowed to read commercials before being handed the responsibility of reading the news.
He furthered his education at the University of Tulsa. Even while studying there he continued working at KVOO. Initially he was an announcer and later became a program director.
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He was just 19 when he became a station manager for the radio station KFBI AM (later renamed as KFDI). After working there for three years he got a newscasting job at KOMA in Oklahoma City.
In 1938 he landed on a job at KXOX in St. Louis as a reporter and Director of Special Events. This place proved very lucky for him as this is where he met the woman he would one day marry.
He went to Hawaii as a reporter to cover the United States Navy’s activities as it concentrated its fleet in the Pacific. During this time the Japanese attacked the Pearl Harbour.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor but served only for a very short time from December 1943 to March 1944 when he was discharged. The reasons behind his discharge are not clear.
After his stint with the army he moved to Chicago in 1944. He started working for the ABC affiliate WENR where he began hosting the ‘Jobs for G.I. Joe’, a postwar employment program, in 1945. The next year, he added the segment, ‘The Rest of the Story’ as part of his newscasts.
His program ‘Paul Harvey News and Comment’, a commentary and analysis segment, debuted in April 1951. He would continue with the program till his death several decades later.
During the 1960s he began recording televised five-minute editorials that local stations could insert into their programs.
His radio segment, ‘The Rest of the Story’ had become so popular that it was decided to make it a series on its own. The series premiered on the ABC Radio Networks on May 10, 1976 and ran till the broadcaster’s death.
Along with his radio broadcasts, Harvey was also very famous for presenting commercials on radio. He would be so convincing and confident while reading out the commercials that he earned himself several fans among the sponsors.
He is best remembered as the presenter of the segment ‘The Rest of the Story’ which had started as a part of his newscasts before premiering on its own as a series. The series was so popular that it ran till Harvey died at the age of 90.
Awards & Achievements
He was honored with the Horatio Alger Award in 1983 which is bestowed upon outstanding Americans for their dedication, purpose and perseverance in their personal lives.
He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the United States’ highest civilian honor - in 2005 by the President George W. Bush.
Personal Life & Legacy
He met Lynne Cooper, a schoolteacher, while he was working at KXOX. He fell in love with her at their first meeting and proposed to her on their very first date! They got married in 1940 and had one son. The couple remained happily married till Lynne’s death.
He remained very active even during his later years, still presenting programs well into his late eighties. After living a long and productive life, he died in 2009 at the age of 90.