I am, I recently learned, a part of the ‘Oregon Trail Generation.’ I remember the onset of technology as we know it. I remember the creaky sound of dial-up when we thought nothing of waiting for 3-5 minutes for a webpage to load. That was simply part of the process—waiting for the information to reveal itself. I’m also probably one of the last generations to remember the days of the radio show. Now NPR continues the grand tradition, and I still listen, but it’s still not the same as the grandmaster of the radio—Paul Harvey.
His voice used to sound like honey, slowly dripping from one point to another. It crinkled with age 25 years ago. Saturday afternoons in the car with Dad meant the pregnant pause of the Paul Harvey Radio Show. Despite growing up in the eighties, well outside the boom of the radio show, I’ve always loved the protracted yet succinct manner of story telling that Paul Harvey continued past its popularity.
Paul didn’t report the news, not in the sense that we would think of it now. There was no ticker tape scroll of bite-sized information. Paul cut you a slice of the pie, told you to take a bite and then gave you the recipe. It was listening to his show that I first discovered the concept that information was important just because it was interesting, not because you would be tested. My parents always stressed this, but the unspoken endorsement from Paul first reiterated it.
Paul told stories that had little relevancy to the stock market, or baseball scores or the weather. He told true stories about real people, doing extraordinary things. His pauses so thoughtfully punctuated the information that a sentence didn’t seem complete without one. He was an elocutionist for the modern era, interpreting instead of telling.
I’m sure that my memories of his show are clouded by nostalgia but I still cherish the thought of sitting in a baking car in the dead of a sweltering Kansas City summer, waiting in the driveway for the conclusion of another tale. As he drew out his sentence, sweat would trickle down our backs in our un-air conditioned car and we would wait to move until we heard. . . . the rest of the story.
Paul taught me at that tender age that the rest was interesting. It was valid.
It was what made the action happen. It’s in the rest of the story that you find the people and their motivations. The rest IS the story.
Paul Harvey passed away six years ago now and with him, ended an era of not only radio, but of dedication to the space between the lines. So Paul, thanks for the telling the stories–all of them. I hope the rest is as good as you hoped.