Paul Harvey, the news commentator and talkradio pioneer whose staccato style made him one of the nation’s most familiar voices, died Saturday in Arizona, according to ABC Radio Networks. He was 90.
Harvey died 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. 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. “Stand by for news!” he told his listeners. He was credited with inventing or popularizing terms such as “skyjacker,” “Reaganomics” and “guesstimate.”
At the peak of his career, Harvey reached more than 24 million listeners on more than 1,200 radio stations and charged $30,000 to give a speech. His syndicated column was carried by 300 newspapers.
His fans identified with his plainspoken political commentary, but critics called him an out-of-touch conservative. He was an early supporter of the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy and a longtime backer of the Vietnam War.
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. Much of the research and writing was done by his son, Paul Harvey Jr.
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.
In 2000, at age 82, he signed a new 10-year contract with ABC Radio Networks.
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.
In 2005, Harvey was one of 14 notables chosen as recipients of the presidential Medal of Freedom. He was also an inductee in the Radio Hall of Fame, as was Lynne.