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In Print: On News Stands Now


by Tumbleweed Smith

The country won’t be the same without Paul Harvey. His calm reassurance was comforting to his millions of listeners. I was a stringer for Paul Harvey for more than forty years and he used most of my stories.

Many people who write about Paul Harvey mention his staccato style of delivery. I don’t think that was his most obvious characteristic. I think it was the way he could take an extremely confusing story and make it understandable using a bare minimum of words.

I guess I started listening to Paul Harvey while I was attending Baylor. His rhythm and timing were impeccable. His love of America, with all of its places, people and events, showed up on his broadcasts.

He was fascinated by the whole of life. His good humor itself was refreshing. He didn’t take himself too seriously.

I don’t know how he developed his style, but I imagine it came from listening to the legendary pioneering sportscaster Bill Stern and radio evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong. They both had commanding voices that made you want to stay tuned. And their writing was perfect for radio.

Paul Harvey started his career on KVOO in Tulsa. ABC started carrying his fifteen-minute noon cast in 1951. Over the years he was on more radio stations than any other radio personality, nearly 2,000 when you add in all the Armed Forces Radio stations that carried him.

There won’t be another Paul Harvey. Nobody can take his place. Nobody can write like Paul Harvey did or read with the same commanding voice

Paul Harvey had. When his voice started showing his age, I began to wonder if ABC would just go back to a regular top of the hour newscast after he left the air. I hoped so, because that time slot belonged to Paul Harvey and to no one else He has lots of imitators and rightly so. Broadcast students have taped his broadcasts, dissected them, read along with them, tried to pronounce words the way he did. He used tongue twisters like they were mere recitations of the alphabet. One of his favorites was “Today’s quote worth re-quoting.” Say that ten times real fast.

The first radio station where I worked had a recording of a speech Paul Harvey made in 1959 at the Big Spring chamber of commerce banquet. I listened to it and was fascinated at how he described the way the countryside changes coming out to Big Spring from Fort Worth. He said some beautiful words about the city, its flora and fauna and people. And of course the audience loved it. He mentioned his comments about Big Spring the next morning when he did his national broadcast from the local station.

Paul Harvey used short words, short sentences. He made the difficult simple. His enjoyment of his work showed up in his every broadcast. I miss him.

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