March 2, 2009
Paul Harvey (Courtesy The Associated Press)

Paul Harvey (Courtesy The Associated Press)

Remembering Paul Harvey

Broadcasting legend Paul Harvey made his radio debut in Tulsa, Okla., in 1933, playing guitar, reading commercials and sometimes news. With a commanding voice, Harvey went on to inform and entertain generations of American listeners. Harvey died Feb. 28, 2009, at a Phoenix hospital. He was 90.

Known for his homespun phrasing, exuberant delivery and dramatic pauses, Harvey’s top-rated news, commentary and feature programs attracted a nationwide audience. He spent more than 50 years broadcasting on ABC Radio Networks, where his 15-minute morning and noon shows reached millions of listeners. Based in Chicago, he spent nearly his entire career in the Midwest, which he credited with keeping him grounded in populist views.

Radio executives considered him irreplaceable. In 2000, already in his 80s, Harvey signed a 10-year, $100 million contract.

Reuters summed up his appeal in a 1989 dispatch: "In a broadcast era dominated by television news, Harvey is a survivor from an age when a voice, not a haircut, was a newscaster’s signature."

Voice of the 'Silent Majority'

Bridget Gutierrez, Newseum exhibits writer

Long before Rush Limbaugh entered talk radio, Paul Harvey’s right-leaning editorials, which aired on radio and television, earned him a devoted audience. But in 1970, he famously broadcast a message to Richard M. Nixon that he disagreed with Nixon’s plans to expand the Vietnam War.

"Mr. President, I love you … but you’re wrong," Harvey said. The message inspired thousands of cards and letters — and a call from the White House.

Harvey was so popular with political conservatives that he once was considered the voice of the "silent majority," a term used by Nixon to describe Americans who quietly disagreed with vocal anti-war protestors. Harvey, however, always refused to label his views.

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