Paul Harvey died on Saturday at age 90. He was a remarkably original radio personality. My parents used to listen to his mixture of news and anecdote every day, and, as a child, I became transfixed by Harvey's rumbling-deep voice and strikingly unique phrasing.
Slam poets could have learned a tip or two from Harvey. He'd pause in the middle of sentences for dramatic effect. He'd rush words to get to the end of a story, to convey urgency where none might exist if the copy were read in a more conventional broadcaster's usual, measured manner. Harvey's baritone frequently galloped to the punchline of an anecdote, only to be brought up short, reined in abruptly. He'd wait for so long you thought the radio had gone dead, and then he'd issue his final words in a confidential murmur or a crow of triumph. Then it was on to the next item: "Page two!" he'd bark, his term for changing the subject, and off he was, onto another story, or to a commercial whose copy he read himself and promoted personally. His politics tended toward an innocent reactionaryism, if such a category exists. I tended to listen past the content to the style.
Harvey belonged to the pre-TV generation, but lasted well into the internet age. In recent years, I would hear him only on car trips, around noon wherever I was, on the AM radio dial. He had the gift of making it seem as though he was talking only to you. "Hello, Americans!" he'd greet his listeners with merriment: patriotism never sounded so much fun.