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Airwaves: March 6, 2009

Legend Passes

In the year 2000, radio commentator Paul Harvey signed a contract with ABC Radio to keep him on the network for another ten years. Sadly, the contract was cut short: Harvey passed away last Saturday at the age of 90.

One of the most listened-to personalities on radio, Harvey’s “News and Comment” broadcasts along with a companion five-minute program called “The Rest of the Story” were some of the most uplifting and entertaining news programs on the radio. That was by design, as Harvey believed that the public, in his own words, “hungers for a little niceness.” His commentaries were carried nationally on ABC Radio since 1951 and aired locally on KABC (790 AM) at 11:45 AM and 7 PM weekdays.

Born Paul Harvey Aurandt in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harvey began his broadcast career when a high school speech teacher noticed his distinctive voice and helped launch his career. Harvey was 14 when that teacher took him to KVOO/Tulsa and told the programmer that the young man should be on the radio. That job -- unpaid -- began with reading news, sweeping floors, making announcements and the like in 1933, and he worked up from there.

He proposed to his future wife, Lynne Cooper on their first date. She said no, at first, but eventually changed her mind. They married in June, 1940 and she later became the producer of his show. She passed in May of last year.

He often mixed news and advertising with a rather thin line on his programs, but, he said, he would only advertise something if he truly believed in the product. Often his advertisements -- Page Two -- were as entertaining as the news and commentaries. He would take only one in 15 products to advertise, it is said. And he would end every broadcast with the familiar signoff: “Paul Harvey” followed by a long pause and finally a quick “Good day!”

He was known for his conservatism, but he was able to shock listeners at times. In 1970, he chastised President Richard Nixon for the planned expansion of the Vietnam War ito Cambodia. “Mr. President, I love you,” he said. “But you are wrong.”

Harvey died at a hospital near his Winter home in Phoenix. No cause of death was announced by press time, but he was surrounded by family.

His son, Paul Harvey, Jr., had been doing much of the writing of the show the past few years, and some fans are hopeful that his legacy will live on with Paul Jr. as host. I’ve heard no word on any such plan, but I think it would be a good idea.

It’s Begun

Let’s see ... KABC gets a new programmer and a new manager. A popular host, Larry Elder is let go, and some change are made in the news department. KLSX (97.1 FM) drops talk just when KABC is ready to shake things up a bit. And then, former KLSX personality Tim Conway, Jr. shows up this week to fill in for Al Rantel, starting Wednesday.

Coincidence? Maybe. But I think now. I think KABC is about to do something major, and it may indeed involve the spirit of KLSX. Stay tuned ...


Copyright © 2009 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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