Paul Harvey Aurandt: September 4, 1918‚ÄďFebruary 28, 2009


‚ú™ Paul Harvey Aurandt¬†was an American radio broadcaster for¬†ABC News Radio. He broadcast¬†News and Comment¬†on mornings and mid-days on weekdays and at noon on Saturdays and also his famous¬†The Rest of the Story¬†segments. From 1951 to 2008, Harvey’s programs reached as many as 24 million people each week.¬†Paul Harvey News¬†was carried on 1,200 radio stations, on 400¬†American Forces Network¬†stations and in 300 newspapers.

Harvey was born and raised in¬†Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of Harry Harrison Aurandt (1873‚Äď1921) and Anna Dagmar (n√©e Christensen) Aurandt (1883‚Äď1960). His father was born in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania; his mother was of Danish descent. He had one sibling, an older sister Frances Harrietta (n√©e Aurandt) Price (1908‚Äď1988).

In December 1921, when Harvey was three years old, his father was murdered. The elder Aurandt was a Tulsa policeman who served as secretary to Commissioner J.H. Adkinson. On the night of December 18, Officer Aurandt and a friend, Tulsa police detective Ike Wilkerson, were off-duty and rabbit hunting when they were approached by four masked and armed men who attempted to rob them. Mr. Aurandt was shot and died two days later of his wounds. At Aurandt’s funeral, twelve robed members of the Ku Klux Klan arrived late in the service and dropped roses on his casket, though there is no other indication that Aurandt was himself a Klansman.

As a young boy, Harvey made radio receivers and attended¬†Tulsa Central High School, where his class was two years ahead of future actor¬†Tony Randall. Teacher Isabelle Ronan remembered being “impressed by his voice.” On her recommendation in 1933, he began working part time to help clean up when he was 14 years old at¬†KVOO¬†in Tulsa. He eventually was allowed to fill in on the air by reading commercials and the news.

He continued working at KVOO while he attended the University of Tulsa, first as an announcer and later as a program director. He spent three years as a station manager for KFBI AM, now known as KFDI; a radio station that once had studios in Salina, Kansas. From there, he moved to a newscasting job at KOMA in Oklahoma City, and then to KXOK in St. Louis in 1938 where he was Director of Special Events and a roving reporter.

In 1940, Harvey married¬†Lynne Cooper¬†of St. Louis. She was a member of¬†Phi Beta Kappa¬†at Washington University in St. Louis¬†and a former schoolteacher. They met when Harvey was working at KXOK and Cooper came to the station for a school news program. Harvey invited her to dinner, proposed to her after a few minutes of conversation and from then on called her “Angel,” even on his radio show. A year later she said yes. The couple moved to Chicago in 1944.

On May 17, 2007, Harvey told his radio audience that Angel had developed leukemia. Her death, at the age of 92, was announced by ABC Radio on May 3, 2008.

Paul and Lynne had one son, Paul Aurandt Jr., who goes by the name Paul Harvey Jr. He assisted his father at News and Comment and The Rest of the Story. Paul, Jr., whose voice could be heard announcing the bumpers between episodes, filled in for his father during broadcasts and broadcast the morning editions after the passing of his mother.

Harvey then moved to Hawaii to cover the US Navy as it concentrated its fleet in the Pacific. He was returning to the mainland from assignment after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He eventually enlisted in the US Army Air Forces, but only served from December 1943 to March 1944 resulting from a medical discharge. He then moved to Chicago, where in June 1944, he began broadcasting from the ABC affiliate WENR.

Harvey was an avid pilot who served in the US Army Air Corps from December 1943 to March 1944.¬†He was an¬†Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association¬†(AOPA) member for more than 50 years and would occasionally talk about flying to his radio audience. He was also a member of the¬†Experimental Aircraft Association¬†(EAA) and was frequently seen at¬†EAA AirVenture¬†in¬†Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He was responsible for funding the Paul Harvey Audio-Video Center at EAA’s headquarters in Oshkosh. Harvey was also an early investor in aircraft manufacturing company¬†Cirrus Aircraft, based in¬†Duluth, Minnesota.¬†According to the¬†AOPA Pilot¬†contributing editor Barry Schiff, Harvey coined the term¬†skyjack.

In 1945, Harvey began hosting the postwar employment program¬†Jobs for G.I. Joe¬†on WENR. Harvey added¬†The Rest of the Story¬†as a tagline to in-depth feature stories in 1946. One of Harvey’s regular topics was lax security at the¬†Argonne National Laboratory, a nuclear research facility 20 miles (32¬†km) southwest of Chicago.¬†

To demonstrate his concern, just after midnight on February 6, 1951, he entered the grounds by scaling a fence and was quickly apprehended by security guards. In 2010,¬†The Washington Post, having obtained 1400 pages of the¬†FBI¬†file on Harvey, described it as an “act of¬†participatory journalism.”¬†Harvey’s “escapade” prompted the¬†US Attorney for Illinois¬†to panel a¬†grand jury¬†to consider an espionage indictment against him. Harvey “went on the air to suggest he was being set up,” and the grand jury subsequently declined to indict him.

Harvey worked sporadically in Chicago for ABC Radio in the late ’40s and early ’50s and had just completed two weeks as the guest host for veteran commentator¬†H. R. Baukhage¬†on his daily 11 AM news round-up. When Baukhage returned from his early spring vacation, ABC dismissed him and put Harvey in his time slot. On April 1, 1951, the ABC Radio Network debuted¬†Paul Harvey News and Comment, with a noon time slot on weekdays.¬†His network television debut came on November 16, 1952, when he began a 15-minute newscast on ABC. The program originated at¬†WENR-TV¬†in Chicago.

Beginning in 1952, Harvey became friends with FBI Director¬†J. Edgar Hoover. Harvey would often submit “advance copies of his radio script for comment and approval.”¬†Harvey’s friendship with Hoover may have also helped him escape criminal charges relating to his trespassing incident at¬†Argonne National Laboratory. Harvey was always happy to defend Hoover and spoke highly of him on his show of April 25, 1963: “God help the United States without John Edgar Hoover…. (FBI) Director Hoover is not retiring. If you have heard otherwise, somebody’s sinister wish was the father of that thought. It is not so.”

Harvey was also close friends with US Senator Joseph McCarthy and supported his Senate campaign to expose and expel communists from American society and government. Harvey was a close friend of George Vandeman and the Reverend Billy Graham.

Harvey later began to host a separate program, The Rest of the Story, in which he provided backstories behind famous people and events. The Rest of the Story premiered on May 10, 1976, on ABC Radio. The series quickly grew to six broadcasts a week and continued until his death in 2009. It was written and produced by his son, Paul Harvey, Jr.,during its entire 33-year duration. Harvey and his radio network claimed that the stories in that series, although entertaining, were completely true.

In November 2000, Harvey signed a 10-year $100 million contract with ABC Radio Networks. A few months later, after damaging his vocal cords, he went off the air, but recovered and returned again in August 2001.

Harvey’s success with sponsors stemmed from the seamless style with which he segued from his monologue into reading commercial messages. He explained his relationship with them: “I am fiercely loyal to those willing to put their money where my mouth is.”

Harvey’s on-air persona and broadcasting style were heavily influenced by sportscaster¬†Bill Stern¬†and columnist Walter Winchell. In the 1940s, Stern’s¬†The Colgate Sports Reel¬†and newsreel programs used many of the techniques later used by Harvey, including his emphatic style of delivery and the use of phrases such as¬†Reel Two¬†and¬†Reel Three¬†to denote segments of the broadcast, much like Harvey’s¬†Page Two¬†and¬†Page Three.

Harvey was also known for the catchphrases that he used at the beginning of his programs, such as “Hello Americans, this is Paul Harvey. Stand by for NEWS!” He always ended and signed off with, “Paul Harvey… Good¬†day.” or “Paul Harvey… Good¬†night.”¬†A story might be “This day’s news of most lasting significance.” At the end of a report about someone who had done something ridiculous or offensive, Harvey would say, “He would want us to mention his name,” followed by silence, and he would then start the next item. The last item of a broadcast, which was often a funny story, would usually be preceded by “And now from the ‘For-what-it’s-worth’ department….”

Other phrases made famous by Harvey included “Here’s a strange…” (a story with an unusual twist) and “Self-government doesn’t work without self-discipline.”¬†He also is credited with popularizing the terms¬†Reaganomics¬†and¬†guesstimate.

From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, Harvey attended Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park. When the church moved from its original location on Madison Street to the former Presbyterian Church on Lake Street, Harvey asked Billy Graham to preach at the dedication service. 

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Harvey associated himself with various congregations of different denominations. He and his wife regularly attended the Camelback Adventist Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, during their winters there. He would often quote the Adventist pioneer Ellen G. White in his broadcasts and received the Golden Microphone Award for his professionalism and graciousness in dealing with the church. He was also active with a small Plymouth Brethren meeting in Maywood, Illinois, called Woodside Bible Chapel.

Harvey was elected to the National Association of Broadcasters¬†National Radio Hall of Fame¬†and¬†Oklahoma Hall of Fame. He appeared on the¬†Gallup Poll list of America’s most admired men. In addition he received eleven Freedom Foundation Awards as well as the¬†Horatio Alger Award.

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In 2005, Harvey was awarded the¬†Presidential Medal of Freedom by¬†President George W. Bush; the United States’ most prestigious civilian award.¬†Bush’s remarks summarized Harvey’s career:

“He first went on the air in 1933, and he’s been heard nationwide for 54 years. Americans like the sound of his voice…over the decades we have come to recognize in that voice some of the finest qualities of our country: patriotism, the good humor, the kindness, and common sense of Americans.”

Harvey died on February 28, 2009, at the age of 90 at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, surrounded by family and friends. No cause of death was ever announced to the public.

Robert D. McFadden, writing Harvey’s obituary for¬†The New York Times, examined his unique radio style and how it interacted with his political views:

“He personalized the radio news with his right wing opinions, but laced them with his own trademarks: a hypnotic timbre, extended pauses for effect, heart-warming tales of average Americans and folksy observations that evoked the heartland, family values and the old-fashioned plain talk one heard around the dinner table on Sunday. “Hello, Americans,” he barked. “This is Paul Harvey! Stand byyy for newwws!” He railed against welfare cheats and defended the death penalty. He worried about the national debt, big government, bureaucrats who lacked common sense, permissive parents, leftist radicals and America succumbing to moral decay. He championed rugged individualism, love of God and country, and the fundamental decency of ordinary people.”

In response to his father’s death, his son, Paul Harvey Jr., said, “Millions have lost a friend.” At the time of his death, Harvey had less than two years left on his ten-year contract.‚ú™

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