“Hello, Americans. This is Paul Harvey! Stand byyy for Newwws!”
A mainstay of American living rooms, kitchens and cars for more than half a century, Paul Harvey died on this day in 2009. His unmistakable, strong, folksy timbre, however, will not easily be forgotten, and his impact on the nation endures.
During the most recent Super Bowl, his 1978 “So God Made a Farmer” speech was the heart of a moving, two-minute advertisement that was voted one of the most popular of the nation’s most-watched event.
Born Paul Harvey Aurandt, Sept. 4, 1918, in Tulsa, Okla., his trademark “Good day!” greeting was heard on some 1,200 ABC Radio Networks stations across the nation and on 400 Armed Forces Radio stations around the world, reaching approximately 24 million listeners daily. ”Reaganomics,” ”guesstimate” and “skyjack” are among the words he coined over the years.
He broadcasted “News and Comment” on weekday mornings and mid-days, and at noon on Saturdays, as well as his famous The Rest of the Story segments.
Paul Batura, author of the biography “Good Day! The Paul Harvey Story,” noted much of Harvey’s work provided more than the news.
“Paul Harvey loved strong opinions, but he was no shock jock. He might have been shocking to some – articulating his love of God and Jesus Christ, embracing the American miracle and touting our nation’s exceptionalism, not to mention regularly displaying an unfailing devotion to his wife,” Batura wrote.
WND Founder and CEO Joseph Farah wrote a tribute at the time of Harvey’s death.
“He was a giant in journalism. He was a giant in the news business. … Yes, he could tell a great story, as in ‘the rest of the story.’ But what I loved most about him was his ability to find those great little gems of news – stories that escaped the attention of so many of his colleagues,” Farah said.
Perhaps his most notable soliloquy was “If I Were the Devil,” broadcast for the first time April 3, 1965.
After citing a litany of problems that threaten the nation’s future, Harvey concluded that “if I were the devil, I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing.”
See “If I Were the Devil”:
In 2001, Harvey credited God with healing him after contracting a virus that left him voiceless for three months that year.
In a Thanksgiving weekend broadcast a little more than two months after the 9/11 attacks, Harvey said he believed God wanted him to broadcast to Americans an important message.
“Americans, this is the testing time, and we are at our virtuous best,” he said on his “News and Comment” program. “America is falling in love again with America.”
“We remember the Crash of ’29, and the Dustbowl of the ’30s and Hitler’s Holocaust and Dien Bien Phu and Saddam Hussein,” Harvey began his analysis.
“During each test, some Americans feared that our country was going to hell. Well, it did not. It went through a little hell, but it came out of the crucible a little heat-tempered and stronger than before.”
Harvey concluded by focusing on the brighter side of events, stressing that storms are part of life’s normal climate and that Americans need to learn to ride them.
“Don’t let noisy news distress you, don’t let the headline writers rain on your parade,” he said. “My goodness, there’s resiliency in this country we’ve not yet begun to use.”
Later, his frank assessment of Islam drew noise from some quarters.
As WND reported in 2003, the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, called on Harvey to say he was sorry for asserting Islam encourages killing.
In a news item in which Harvey described the bloody nature of cockfight gambling in Iraq, he said: “Add to the thirst for blood a religion which encourages killing, and it is entirely understandable if Americans came to this bloody party unprepared.”