Image via WikipediaThere have been many great and memorable voices broadcast through the atmosphere since Marconi's wireless radio became a fixture in almost every household, but anyone who ever heard Paul Harvey and his twice-daily editorials would put his name on the short list of the most memorable and the very best.
For over 50+ years, Harvey presented news and commentary (often more commentary then news, but that was part of his charm) with a style that echoed and combined Walter Winchell's stacatto bulletin-reading, Edward R. Murrow's incisive journalistic instincts, and Walter Cronkite's warmth and trustworthiness to create a wholly unique persona that was all of those and none of them at once.
Harvey was as easily identified by his catch-phrases as his voice:
- His famous opening, "Hello Americans, standby for news!"
- After finishing his first story of the day, a pause and then, "....Page two."
- At the end of almost every report: "And now you know the rest of the story."
- And his signature sign-off: "This is Paul Harvey.........good day!"
I once saw an interview with Harvey where he let everyone in on the secret of his sign-off: he would actually use his wristwatch to tick off the 5 seconds between "This is Paul Harvey" and "Good day." In a medium where dead air is the bane of every programmer and formatter who ever lived, Harvey understood how effective silence could be - that people tend to listen more intently when he said nothing for a moment or two than if he ranted and screamed into the microphone.
Paul Harvey passed away today in Arizona. He was 90 years old. Harvey was one of the last of a swiftly disappearing breed of broadcasters, and he will be deeply missed.