8 March, 2009 - We’ll Miss you, Paul

Please allow me, this week, to pay tribute to a friend and a broadcasting icon, Paul Harvey who, at age 90, left us February 28, and with him disappeared a voice and delivery unmatched in the broadcasting industry.

In his decades of appearing on the air, he talked to more people in America than any other broadcaster, deservedly so. His delivery was unique; he was the master of the pause that kept you hanging, waiting for his concluding thought.

Over the years that we shared the same radio station in Chicago, we also shared many conversations and social events. Paul Harvey loved agriculture; he and his wife Angel spent many wonderful times on their small farm in Missouri. When he was writing an agricultural story for his broadcast, it was not unusual for the phone to ring and he would say “ I just want to check to make sure I have the numbers and the facts correct.”

He had a passion for communities in rural America. During his speaking tour days he would often schedule appearances in small towns to deliver an address to a graduating high school class or a farm organization convention. And agriculture liked Paul Harvey. He scored his strongest ratings in the Heartland, as he called it. Companies like Archer Daniels Midland (ADM); even farm organizations like American Farm Bureau Federation bought time on the Paul Harvey News and Comment to carry their message to the 24-million people who listened to Paul every day.

While some people were bothered by the conservative stance of Paul Harvey, that did not bother me; I embraced it. But we did have one area of disagreement and that was his stance on animal rights and the admiration expressed on his broadcast for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Often, after he did a story on PETA, we would talk on the phone and I would tell him he was wrong; we never agreed but we disagreed civilly because that was Paul Harvey’s way.

A very special, memorable and personal moment happened for me in November 2003 when I became the first agricultural broadcaster to be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Paul accepted my request to do my induction on the live radio broadcast. In typical Paul Harvey style, he delivered the most eloquent 90-second tribute to America’s farmers and ranchers ever heard on a radio broadcast.

Paul was a truly outstanding gentleman, broadcaster and friend, who had respect for everyone and their views. That is why, for years, I have said, “When I grow up, I want to be like Paul Harvey.”

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.