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Paul Harvey: Broadcaster, Analyst and Seer

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From 1951 to 2008, his programs reached as many as 24 million people per week. Paul Harvey News was carried on 1,200 radio stations, on 400 American Armed Forces Network stations, and in 300 newspapers.

Paul Harvey, (Paul Harvey Aurandt) was born Sept. 4, 1918, in Tulsa, OK and died Feb. 28, 2009, in Phoenix, Ariz. He was an American radio commentator and news columnist noted for his firm staccato delivery and his conservative but individualistic opinions on current events. He enjoyed almost unparalleled longevity as a national broadcaster.

Harvey was descended from five generations of Baptist preachers. He and his sister were brought up by their mother after their father was shot to death under uncertain circumstances.

His legend started following a medical discharge from the Army Air Corps in 1944, when he shortened his name to Paul Harvey and began broadcasting for Chicago radio station WENR. Paul Harvey News and Comment proved immediately popular in Chicago and was nationally syndicated by the American Broadcasting Company in 1951. In 1976 the program spun off The Rest of the Story, whose brief biographical narratives were written by the Harveys’ only child, Paul Harvey Aurandt, Jr.

He called his particular conservative cast “political fundamentalism.”

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, his programs reached as many as 24 million people per week. Paul Harvey News was carried on 1,200 radio stations, on 400 American Forces Network stations, and in 300 newspapers. (One of them was 610WTVN in Columbus, OH that I listened to growing up and into adulthood. In fact, his morning segment was the last thing I listened to before heading for work.)

His mix of current-events news, human-interest anecdotes, and common sense editorials reached some 24 million listeners via 1,600 radio stations daily.

Harvey’s mix of current-events news, human-interest anecdotes, and common sense editorials reached some 24 million listeners via 1,600 radio stations daily. His staccato pacing, bouncing intonation, and signature hooks (e.g., “Stand by…for news!” and “Paul Harvey…good day!”) helped make his voice one of the most recognizable in the history of radio. Harvey often opined on rising taxes, bloated government, and the decay of American values. He called his particular conservative cast “political fundamentalism.”

One of his most talked-about commentaries — which evolved over time, although it stayed true to the original opinions — was called “If I were the Devil.” It first appeared in 1964 as a newspaper article:

If I Were the Devil — If I were the Prince of Darkness, I would want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree.

So I should set about however necessary, to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve, “Do as you please.”

To the young I would whisper “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that “man created God,” instead of the other way around. I would confide that “what is bad is good and what is good is square.”

In the ears of the young married I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be “extreme” in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old I would teach to pray — to say after me — “Our father which art in Washington.”

Then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull, uninteresting. I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies, and vice-versa.

I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing, less work. Idle hands usually work for me.

I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could, I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction, I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.

If I were the Devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions; let those run wild.

I’d designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts and I’d get preachers to say, “She’s right.”

With flattery and promises of power I would get the courts to vote against God and in favor of pornography.

Thus I would evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, then from the Houses of Congress.

Then in his own churches I’d substitute psychology for religion and deify science.

If I were Satan I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.

If I were the Devil I’d take from those who have and give to those who wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. Then my police state would force everybody back to work.

Then I would separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines and objectors in slave-labor camps.

If I were Satan I’d just keep doing what I’m doing and the whole world go to hell as sure as the Devil.

Here is the version he broadcast (erroneously claiming to be from 1965, it is in fact from the version he wrote in 1996:

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It’s eerie, in 2022, to realize just how accurate his observations were.

More of his observations include:

“If we cannot count on ourselves to do the right thing how can we count on anyone or anything else? Self-government won’t work without self-discipline.”

“The indignation of politicians is NOT a good measure of the gravity of any situation.”

We’ve drifted away from being fishers of men to being keepers of the aquarium.”

“Ever occur to you why some of us can be this much concerned with animals’ suffering? Because government is not. Why not? Animals don’t vote.”

“These things I wish for you-tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness. To me, it’s the only way to appreciate life.”

“If there is a ’50-50 chance’ that something can go wrong, then 9 times out of ten it will.”

“Like what you do. If you don’t like it, do something else.”

And. finally,

“Luck is a word used to describe the success of people you don’t like.”

In closing, here is one of his stories that started as another of his signature phrases: “And now you know — the rest of the story”

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Any threat especially against law enforcement or politicians will get you banned.
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