Yeah, I know: Paul Harvey, who died in Arizona on Saturday, was so conservative that he made Rush Limbaugh seem like Karl Marx in comparison, and in recent years, his famously precise diction had begun to fray at the edges. But cut the man some slack: He was still working at age 90. If I can form even the occasional monosyllable when I'm that old, I'll be a happy guy. Besides, he remained a great stylist to the very end, not to mention one of the last links to an era when radio was arguably the most powerful communication medium on the planet.
Growing up in the '60s and '70s in Grand Junction, I loved tuning in Harvey's daily updates, as much for their (to my ears) weird rhythms and oddball jargon ("Page two!") as for their actual content. I didn't care if the little editorial zingers he inserted at the end of items matched up with my personal ideology; I simply appreciated their show-biz theatricality and jazzy verve. And his narrative skills were worthy of all the praise they've received since his passing was announced. In his "The Rest of the Story" feature, he mastered the art of withholding, rather than imparting, information -- at least until the last minute, when he'd reveal what he'd been hiding with a jaunty flourish. The format was corny yet endearing, and undeniably effective whether the listener saw the punchline coming or not. A few years back, I happened upon a segment in which the topic seemed to be Eric Clapton -- and instead of feeling let down because I'd guessed the subject's identity, I was thrilled. The idea that an establishment figure like Harvey would lavish his attention and affection on a former heroin addict, alcoholic and adulterer made anything seem possible.
Thanks, Mr. Harvey -- and good day.
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