Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Paul Harvey, RIP

The broadcast Gods have thwarted me again.

If you know me, or know of me, you are probably saying "Of course they have. You lost your job in radio a few weeks ago." But if my life were a Bob Ross painting, that answer would only comprise the trunk of my happy little tree. This is my own personal, irregular but dependable, miniature version of Halley's Comet, and the rest of the story begins and ends with Paul Harvey, the greatest news voice ever picked up by a microphone, so "Stand by for news."

It was the wee small hours of this past Sunday morning. It was a dark and stormy night. No, really it was, which is why my beautiful bride and I were not sleeping in our Sleep Number bed. I was half-asleep on the non-sleep numbered couch, a baby fully ensconced on the road to dreamland on my shoulder, while the Mrs. was on the internet checking to see how much the Doppler radar was doppling. That's when she gave me the news as the man himself would have given it; Paul Harvey....dead.....90 glorious years. It was pouring outside, so there was no chance to take the suggestion of the old song to hang my tears out to dry when IT came knocking on my brain; Deja vu, popping in as unexpectedly as A-Rod's sample-taker.

PAGE TWO: April 23, 1995. Howard Cosell, the first and best pontificator of sport, passes at the age of 77. I am devastated. It is Sunday, which means I am anchoring newscasts for WGMZ in Gadsden, Alabama. But my opportunity to go on the radio and "tell it like it is" about the erudite master of profundity will not happen. News of Mr. Cosell's death broke after my shift had ended. I was a part-time newsman. My next shift is the following Saturday. My obituary is unread to this day. Strike one for the radio gods.

PAGE THREE: January 23, 2005. Johnny Carson, no further introduction needed, is dead at 79. I cried for about two hours straight because I loved the man. Then I cried for another hour because I was on vacation, 620 miles from my microphone at WREC, Memphis, so no on-air obituary from yours truly....again. Then, I shed a few more tears as I darn near shattered a few knuckles going Mike Tyson on the radio, thanks to a remarkably clueless newsman from radio station WWJ in Detroit and the hatchet job he gave Mr. Carson's epitaph. It was almost as painful as Georgia's defense in the third quarter of the Tech game. Strike two.

Then, of course, this weekend came to pass. Paul Harvey is gone, and I don't yet have a new radio home. The three people who are the reason for me wanting to talk to the folks via the radio all pass on, and irony of ironies, I don't get to eulogize any of them on the radio. So, if you will please indulge me for a few more minutes in a medium that is foreign to my fingers, I would like to say goodbye to Mr. Harvey.

FOR WHAT'S IT'S WORTH: I wish, Mr. Harvey, I could speak through our favorite electronic device right now just to say, for all my pals to hear, thanks for being my friend. Sure, we never met. Neither did most of the tens of millions who listened to you, but rest assured, you were our friend. You told us what was going on in our bizarre, beautiful, and dangerous world, reassuring us that it was always going to be okay. You sold us on the Sleep Number bed and countless other products and stores. You made us laugh 'til it hurt and cry 'til it hurt even more. Now, you aren't there to make the hurt go away.

The broadcast Gods have thwarted me again. Or perhaps, they saved me from what would have been a comical series of embarrassingly maudlin performances over the years. Perhaps they knew better than I that I needed a little more time to return to the radio so I can honor Mr. Harvey in a way that hopefully will make him proud, a way that will help all of my radio friends have a... Good Day.

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