Just days after losing Norm Van Lier, Johnny Kerr, and James Ward, Chicago loses yet another longtime media personality – and this one was as big as they come. This person didn’t just work in radio- he was radio.
Paul Harvey died Saturday in a Phoenix hospital (near his winter home) at the age of 90.
Harvey began his long radio career in his birthplace of Tulsa, Okla., getting his start at KVOO as a staff announcer. He worked at several radio stations before coming to Chicago in 1944, where he became a newscaster for WENR and had based his nationally syndicated radio show here since 1951 and went on everyday at noon.
His popular News and Comment radio show – and a popular spinoff (The Rest of the Story) were heard on over 600 radio stations in the United States and distributed by ABC Radio Networks. In his home base of Chicago, he was heard locally on WGN-AM.
A proud member of The Radio Hall Of Fame, Harvey received The Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush in 2005.
Harvey’s wife Lynne was a producer for his show. She died last May at the age of 92 from complications due to Leukemia.
His format was simple: new headlines, commentary, a celebrity item, and a weird or absurd story – and it was a format durable for over sixty years. It was his down home sensibilities and gentle manner that made him a favorite in middle America.
Another quirk of Harvey’s show was his “dramatic pauses”. And his ability to segue from telling a story to a sponsored message was second to none.
It would be difficult to replace a man who some thought would not fit in today’s media landscape. Certainly, he was the last of his kind in radio. Though he has left us, there’s comfort in knowing he is now reunited in peace with Lynne in heaven. And to him – it’s a “good day.”
More: Aaron Barnhart of TV Barn and the Kansas City Star has a more detailed profile of Paul Harvey.