Monday, March 2, 2009

A Paul Harvey Memory...

With the passing of the legendary broadcaster, I was reminded of the privilege of my one personal meeting with him. I had been working with Billy Graham (Paul Harvey's same age, 90, by the way) on his memoir, and Mr. Graham was reminiscing about the 1957 Times Square event. There at the conclusion of his several weeks of preaching at Madison Square Garden, hundreds of thousands jammed the streets for a final meeting.

ABC television broadcast the event live, and Mr. Graham said, "Paul Harvey was their reporter."

I said, "I would love to get his memories of that."

Well, I've worked with a lot of famous people, yet I remain amazed at their ability to get other famous people to take their calls. Mr. Graham asked his secretary if she could get Paul Harvey on the phone, and a few minutes later the two were talking. Mr. Graham asked if I could visit and interview Mr. Harvey.

A few weeks later I reached the top floor of a Chicago office building that Paul Harvey News occupied in its entirety. I was struck by the ceremonial keys to cities and honorary doctorates that lined every hallway. It was from him I stole the line, "If I get one more honorary doctorate, I'm going to start seeing patients." (If I'm not mistaken, Paul Harvey received more of these than anyone else in history.)

As he scurried about collecting news bits off the teletype wires and writing his own newscast, he wore a blue smock, like doctors wear. When it was time to do his newscast live from his own studio, he removed the smock and put his suitcoat on over his shirt and tie. "You dress up for work," he said. "Shouldn't I?"

He allowed me to sit right next to him as he waited for his cue, suddenly exercising his voice by breaking into a loud, "Mee may mah mow moo!"

He hummed and coughed and cleared his throat, and when he got the signal from behind the glass, he shouted so loudly that I nearly jumped out of my chair.

"Hello, Americans! This is Paul Harvey!"

I'll never forget that, nor will I forget the flavor he gave the Times Square anecdote for Mr. Graham's Just As I Am.

The two giants were friends, and Paul Harvey was an outspoken believer in Christ. So we know where he is now.


C.J. Darlington said...

Wow, I hadn't heard he passed. I've always loved his "Rest of the Story" segments. I'm very glad to know we'll hear his voice again someday!

Jim Whitmer said...

Jerry - I also had the privilege of being in that office you described. And I have some special photos in my files from that shoot, and the time he played golf at the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton with some ServiceMaster executives. (I'm out of town right now, and I'd be scanning those shots if I were home.)
-Jim Whitmer

msfreddy said...

I spent many years cueing up tapes and playing Paul Harvey on radio stations I worked at and never did I hear the petty anger, opinionated foolishness or the downright lack of dignity so prevalent in much of todays media. A class act. Too bad today's culture doesn't care much about quality and class and is impressed more with gold chains and parties. His presence was a restraining force in the onslaught of mediocrity and lazy-mindedness just as the Holy Spirit restrains evil in our day. When that restraint is gone, we all suffer as we listen to our media. Thankfully, when the Spirits restraint is removed, we'll go with Him.

Saint Mike said...

thank you.

old school editor said...

Jerry, thanks for your story. I am not surprised that famous people talk to famous people. But I am so glad that Mr. Graham and Mr. Harvey had a friendship. I'm sure it was a solid relationship based on respect and accountability. Or perhaps, because they were both so public, they understood accountability at a level that would wither most of us. I also love the way Mr. Harvey "played" the pauses, the same way Miles Davis played them. True genius!