CHICAGO — Paul Harvey, a Chicago radio man whose melodious voice and hearty “Hello America” were cherished by millions for more than 57 years on national broadcasts that were a mix of news, storytelling and gently persuasive salesmanship, died Saturday. He was 90.
Harvey died surrounded by family at a Phoenix hospital, according to an ABC Radio Networks spokesman. The cause of death was not immediately available.
The “Paul Harvey News and Comment” broadcasts were consistently ranked first and second in the nation among network radio shows.
His 5-minute “The Rest of the Story” broadcasts featured Harvey telling historical vignettes with surprise endings, such as the 13-year-old boy who receives a cash gift from Franklin Roosevelt and turns out to be Fidel Castro. Or the one about the famous trial lawyer who never finished law school (Clarence Darrow). He’d end each broadcast with his signature: “Paul Harvey. (long pause) Good day!”
Harvey’s various broadcasts reached an estimated 24 million listeners daily, by some accounts.
He was born Paul Harvey Aurandt in Tulsa, Okla. He dropped his last name for professional reasons in the 1940s.
A champion orator in high school, he was encouraged by his English teacher to go into broadcasting.
While working as program director at radio station in Kalamazoo from 1941 to 1943, Harvey served as the Office of War Information’s news director for Michigan and Indiana.
Known for his staunch conservatism — he called it “political fundamentalism” — Harvey supported McCarthyism in the 1950s.
But in 1970, Harvey shocked many of his listeners with his most famous broadcast. In the wake of Richard Nixon’s expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia, Harvey said, “Mr. President, I love you. But you’re wrong.”
In 2005, Harvey received a Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civil award.
His wife, Lynne Harvey, died in 2008. The couple is survived by their son, Paul Harvey Jr.