Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Paul Harvey - Radio Personality

Paul Harvey - Radio Personality

  Who doesn't know the name Paul Harvey? In preparation for our interview in 2003 I was feeling very inadequate about talking to a man of his stature.  Understandably I was quite awestricken that God had given me the opportunity to interview him.  I was expecting  to be faced with an intellectual businessman that would speak to me in a matter-of-fact manner, but Paul Harvey was one of the warmest persons  I had ever spoken to.  His love for his wife, Angel and his admiration for Paul Jr. only added to his warm demeanor.  I've always had a hunger for wisdom that came  from experiences of another person's life, to match it with the caliber of moral character that exuded from Paul Harvey, made the experience ten times more enjoyable.  The words, "Hello Americans," immediately causes you to focus on a recognizable voice that you instantly trust.  Twenty-four million people will 'stand by' for Paul Harvey.  That's the number of loyal listeners who tune in every week to hear his skillful blend of news and views.  I'm a firm believer that "greatness" comes from God and I was so pleased to realize that Paul Harvey also recognized from where his blessings flowed.  Thank you Paul Harvey for staying on your knees in that West Virginia hotel until you became that "good leader."

As the story goes as told to me by Mr. Harvey, it was a cold winter night in late December just before Christmas when a knock was heard at the front door of his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  His Mama didn't know who was at the door, so she hid him and his sister Frances in a closet.  The next few minutes were to leave an indelible mark on all three of them.  His father Harry Harrison Aurandt was a dedicated Tulsa Police Officer, but that cold winter night was to be the last time he would perform the duties that he loved so well.  Standing before his Mama as she opened the door were the fellow officers who came to report the death of his father while he was on his nightly police watch.  

His mother Anna Dagmar Christiansen Aurandt, whom his daddy called Dagie, came from a very strong Danish background which he believed was attributed to her ability to stand firm and focus on her immediate priorities.

As Christmas approached Paul's Mama choked back the tears and was determined not to let the tragedy spoil the season for her children.  His sister Frances was ten years old and he was a small boy of three, but they strung tinsel and popcorn and draped it around the doorways and hung it on their Christmas tree.  From that day forward Christmas remained the most important time of the year, because his Mama turned the tragedy into a pleasant memory.  I'm sure that early experience had much to do with his continuing empathy for police officers.  He had never known an officer that was paid enough for what they do.

Growing up Paul attended Longfellow Elementary School and Horace Mann Junior High, before going on to Central High School while it was still located in the middle of downtown Tulsa.  He was inspired most of his life by three devoted teachers - an Elementary teacher named Mrs. Harp whom he fell in love with at the age of seven; a Physics teacher named Emmy  Hurst who stretched his imagination in Junior High; and a High School teacher named Isabel Ronan who spent a great deal of time influencing the direction of his life.  She encouraged him to appear in several school plays and involved him in oratorical contests.  Eventually she took him to the University of Tulsa so he could enroll in classes under the professional leadership of someone who was further helpful in teaching him to stand tall and breathe through his diaphragm.

One day when he was fourteen years old Mrs. Ronan took him to KVOO radio when it was located at the top of the Philtower Building.  She boldly marched him in to see the program director, and said, "This young man has the talent and ability to be on your radio station."  That was the beginning of his life-long career in radio and there was a lot of WKRP's in his background.

One of his most beloved memories is the time he got off the elevator at KXOK Radio in St. Louis and found himself staring into the eyes of a very beautiful and dainty blonde-haired young lady by the name of Lynne Cooper.  His first words to her were, "Is that your pretty white car that is parked out front?"  "Yes," she said.  "Well, you are taking me to the airport tonight," He confidently remarked.  Thankfully she accepted, and they had a lovely dinner together and he proposed to her that very night; of course she didn't say yes until three years later. Angel is the name he fondly called her.  She was the most feminine human he had ever met.

The second most important event of his life was the birth of their son, Paul Harvey Jr.  He paid his parents the highest compliment after he was grown by buying a house right next door to his parents. Eventually Paul Jr. began announcing his dad's morning program and sometimes substituted for him when he was away and no one could tell the difference in their voices.

When Mr. Harvey was a boy he attended a Church of God which happened to be right around the corner from his house.  Even though he had accepted the scriptural promise of "believe and be saved," at the same time, church only meant Sunday School picnics and being with his friends.  Later in life he was made to understand that if you don't live it, you don't believe it.  Billy Graham and Paul sort of grew up together.  Billy was still in Wheaton College when they first became friends; he had a pastorate out near their home.  There was a time when the two of them took a week off of their busy schedules to play golf in West Virginia and while they were in the hotel Paul said to Billy, "I don't want to be a leader."   However, Billy was very tenacious and he said, "Paul it doesn't make any difference what you want, you are a leader and we are going to be a good one or a bad one."  I think it would be dreadful if anyone in our position of "helping others," was himself leaderless.  If we are unguided missiles we are inevitably destined to self-destruct and destroy anyone who follows us;  I cherish the thought that I have God's constant guidance.  We all fall from time to time but those who deserve even a modicum of what the world calls success, gets up again and again and dusts themselves off. 

Paul Harvey said if he had but one message to pass along to his countrymen it would be that self-government will not work without self-discipline.  The daily news is filled with people making mistakes because they lack the self-discipline that it takes to make the right decisions.  He said he believes it takes the Holy Spirit to guide us, so whatever we need to do to find the strength for self-discipline, each of us needs to do it.