Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Remembering Paul Harvey

A few previous Chicago Radio Spotlight interviews have discussed the Chicago icon, Paul Harvey, who we lost this past weekend at the age of 90. I dipped back into the archives to highlight a few of those memories...

Jack Landreth was one of his producers in the early 90s...

Jack: Every day, I would get to the Harvey offices and listen to Paul’s 7:30 broadcast. When he was finished, he would always stop by my office, take half a step in, and in his booming delivery, exclaim “Good Morning, Jackson!”. I will never forget those days. It was THE Paul Harvey, but I always saw him as the news guy. If I put him on any other pedestal, I would never have gotten my job done! Mr. Harvey will always be a news guy no matter what, but first and foremost, he was a family guy. The love he had for his wife Angel, and the pride he had for Paul Jr. was so prevalent during the short time I worked for him. Mr. Harvey is a legend in real man’s clothes. I love him!

Rick: What was your role when you worked with him, and can you give us an insight into how he puts his newscast together?

Jack: I would go through every newspaper from every town in the country. Again, this was before internet, so all of the “For What it’s Worth” stories came from the small town print papers. Besides working on those stories, I would help out where I could from mail to phones. In Paul Harvey’s office, no one had titles, no one was better than anyone else. Most of the time, Paul changed the ribbons on the news wire machines, simply because he was the first one in.

He would get in early, 4am or so, and put on his blue smock. It was one of those smocks that doctors wear, complete with an ABC logo patch, and the name “Paul” stitched on the right pocket. All of the wire machines had spit out stories all night, and he would scour each and every fiber of those paper rolls. He would then go into his office with the stack of stories, and start typing his scripts, large type and double spaced. He would then take the daily stories, add his famous live reads (Page two!), stack the stories and include whatever we had for him. Then off to the studio where he did Paul Harvey News for the world to hear. After that newscast, it was off to Rest of the Story land, and whatever else needed to be done. When the morning was over, he would walk down to the garage and drive off in his Buick. Yes, he drove a Buick every day. And yes, it took his assistant June Westgaard years and years to convince him NOT to park on Lower Wacker!

A few years ago I asked Bob Sirott which air personalities he most admired, and he answered...

Bob: Paul Harvey continues to entertain me endlessly. Many of his stories are quite interesting, but the way he writes them, the way he delivers them, the way he slides in his own "take" on them--well, let me just say you better listen to him every day because when he stops broadcasting that will be the end of an era that will be gone forever.

I agree with Bob. The passing of Paul Harvey isn't just the end of a broadcasting idol, it's the end of an era. He will be missed.

And finally, Bruce Dumont, interviewed here a few weeks ago, just released the following statement at the Museum of Broadcast Communications...

"Paul Harvey was the greatest of American broadcasters -- a master of words and speech who brought intellect, dignity and humor to each broadcast and demonstrated an ability to connect to his audience for over six decades. Paul Harvey was a proud salesman of products and ideals who had the good fortune to share his life with a personal and professional partner of unlimited grace and class.

In memory of Paul and his late wife Angel, the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago will name its special events venue the Paul and Angel Harvey Center. It will be the site of future Radio Hall of Fame inductions. Fans and industry leaders are invited to share their respect with a memorial donation to complete the Center at www.Museum.TV"