Monday, March 2, 2009

To Paul Harvey... Good Day!

Doesn't it just figure that I blew my best nugget of Paul Harvey material just a couple of weeks ago on the Michael Phelps story? Timing is everything, which just goes to prove that when my ship comes in, I'll be at the airport!

There's not much I can add about the passing of Paul Harvey, except to say that many people of my generation have heard the name "Paul Harvey", but still don't really know who he WAS. My generation, of course, was the first to abandon the AM radio band, where Paul Harvey was largely heard.

For those of you in the dark, then please allow me to tell you that Mr. Harvey was the idealized grandpa you never really had... The master storyteller who worked every word - every syllable and every breath - to improve the flow of the story he was telling. He could express in five words what it would take any other human 15 words to say.

Too often, we blow off people who are older than us - we don't have time to consider their wisdom - or we want something new to look at. I worked at WMAL for all of those years, and for ALL of those years, people were asking when Paul Harvey was going to retire. Well, now those people have their answer, don't they?

I REALLY think people wanted Paul Harvey to retire because they secretly knew they'd never be as good at what he did as he was.

I met Paul Harvey only one time - on the inaugural cruise of the first Disney cruise ship - the Disney Magic. The radio studio on board that ship was being christened in Paul's name, and we had him on WMAL as a guest. This would have been in 1997, so Paul would have been 78.

He seemed frail even back then, and he had the aura, at least to me, as being somewhat like a silent era movie star. Even as the temperature pushed 90 degrees, Paul wore a leather bomber jacket, a sailing captain's hat, and an ascot. Yes - he wore an ascot! Paul's wife, Angel, was resplendent in canary yellow. It was like having Mr. and Mrs. Thurston Howell the Third with us... First class passengers riding in steerage with the rest of us.

Paul was about as gracious as he could be - and he seemed genuinely thrilled to be meeting other radio professionals.

Mrs. Harvey died less than a year ago, and it come as no surprise to anyone that Paul was not long for the world. After all, he spent half-a-century on the radio talking about how much he loved his wife.

I can only imagine how Paul would have delivered his own obituary in his own unique style... "Doctors in Arizona say Mr. Harvey died of natural causes. But in actuality, he really died (long pause)... of a broken heart.

Paul Harvey... Good Day!

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