Published March 01, 2009
Paul Harvey, the news commentator and talk-radio pioneer whose staccato style made him one of the nation's most familiar voices, died Saturday in Arizona. He was 90.
Harvey died surrounded by family at a hospital in Phoenix, where he had a winter home, said Louis Adams, a spokesman for ABC Radio Networks, where Harvey worked for more than 50 years. No cause of death was immediately available.
"Paul Harvey was one of the most gifted and beloved broadcasters in our nation's history," Jim Robinson, president of ABC Radio Networks said in a statement. "We will miss our dear friend tremendously and are grateful for the many years we were so fortunate to have known him."
Harvey had been forced off the air for several months in 2001 because of a virus that weakened a vocal cord. But he returned to work in Chicago and was still active as he passed his 90th birthday. His death comes less than a year after that of his wife and longtime producer, Lynne.
"My father and mother created from thin air what one day became radio and television news," Paul Harvey Jr. said in a statement. "So in the past year, an industry has lost its godparents and today millions have lost a friend."
Known for his resonant voice and trademark delivery of "The Rest of the Story," Harvey had been heard nationally since 1951, when he began his "News and Comment" for ABC Radio Networks.
He became a heartland icon, delivering news and commentary with a distinctive Midwestern flavor.
"He's bigger than anybody," former Arkansas governor and FOX News host Mike Huckabee said on "Geraldo at Large" late Saturday. "America trusted Paul Harvey."
He said his passing leaves a hole that could never be filled.
In 1976, Harvey began broadcasting his anecdotal descriptions of the lives of famous people. "The Rest of the Story" started chronologically, with the person's identity revealed at the end. The stories were an attempt to capture "the heartbeats behind the headlines." Much of the research and writing was done by his son, Paul Jr.
He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2005.
"Laura and I are saddened by the death of Paul Harvey," former President George W. Bush said Saturday night. "Paul was a friendly and familiar voice in the lives of millions of Americans. His commentary entertained, enlightened and informed. Laura and I are pleased to have known this fine man, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Harvey also blended news with advertising, a line he said he crossed only for products he trusted.
However, it all started in 1933 when his radio career began at KVOO-AM in Tulsa while he was still in high school, his Web site said.
He moved to Hawaii in 1940 to cover the U.S. Navy and eventually enlisted in the Army Air Corps, where h served until 1944.
In 2000, at age 82, Harvey signed a new 10-year contract with ABC Radio networks.
In addition to his unique voice and delivery, Harvey was credited with coining several words on his broadcasts, including "Reaganomics" and "guesstimate."
Harvey was born Paul Harvey Aurandt in Tulsa, Okla. His father, a police officer, was killed when he was a toddler. A high school teacher took note of his distinctive voice and launched him on a broadcast career.
While working at St. Louis radio station KXOK, he met Washington University graduate student Lynne Cooper. He proposed on their first date (she said "no") and always called her "Angel." They were married in 1940 and had a son, Paul Jr.
They worked closely together on his shows, and he often credited his success to her influence. She was the first producer ever inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1997, seven years after her husband was. She died in May 2008 after a year-long battle with leukemia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.