Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paul Harvey...Good Day

Radio legend Paul Harvey, whose news and commentary segments always ended with his distinctive sign-off, "Paul Harvey....good day," died today at the age of 90. Harvey died at his winter home in Phoenix, surrounded by family. No cause of death was immediately available.

Harvey never viewed himself as a newsman, even though some 18 million people tuned into his daily reports to hear his 15-minute take on the day's events. He got his start in radio in high school in Tulsa at age 14 when a speech teacher was so impressed with his voice that she took him to a local radio station, KVOO-AM and told the program director that Harvey belonged on radio. He began reading news, making announcements — and sweeping floors — and a year later began getting paid.

Critics blasted him during the tumultuous Vietnam War years in the 60s and 70s, but he made one of his most famous flip-flops on that war, declaring on the air to President Nixon: "Mr. President, I love you but you are wrong."

The idea of retirement never occurred to either Harvey or his wife, Angel, whom he married in 1940 and who was his producing partner throughout his career. When Harvey was 81 in 2000, his sole employer for all those years, ABC Radio Networks, signed him to a 10-year, $100 million contract. Rivals who had lost in the bidding told him they'd be back in 2010. Sadly, that opportunity will never come to fruition.

I remember listening to Harvey at lunch during the summer of 1976 when I was 15. He was part of the inspiration that cemented my decision to be in radio. Even though my career in that medium was brief, it was extremely fulfilling.

To Paul Harvey, thank you and Good Day.