Friday, March 06, 2009

"This is Paul Harvey - Good Night!"

When I was a kid, I used to hear the late Paul Harvey every so often on the only top-40 AM rock station in town (there was only one at the time, but that changed with the advent of FM album-rock). I didn't recall him harping on right-wing topics, but I didn’t pay too much attention to politics back in the day. “Smooth” was not the word for Mr. Harvey. His voice had a jarring, jagged quality which grabbed you the way a car alarm would. Not to say that it was irritating, far from it. What kept me glued to the radio was not merely his selection of unusual, nay, weird human interest stories but his delivery. The man could manufacture the kind of suspense normally reserved for final baseball scores or election returns even when he was talking about something fairly trivial. To me he was not so much a commentator as a storyteller. He worked his magic on everything from breaking news stories to humorous anecdotes. A lot of the things I heard him say would have been right at home around a campfire. Turn off the TV, Paul Harvey’s in the house!

Mr. Harvey was of the old school of radio journalism. Although he was every inch a conservative, and while he socked it to the loyal opposition every chance he got, I remember him taking the high road, or at least a higher one than most right-wing talk show hosts do today. I simply cannot picture Paul Harvey telling a progressive “Shut up, you punk!”, as I’ve heard one such modern-day AM-radio garbage-mouth do. On one of Kermit Schafer's "Bloopers" albums, there's a recording of him reading a particularly risible human-interest story, then totally cracking up on-mic, and never recovering. Can you even imagine Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter or Michael Savage doing that?

No comments: