1983 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Every pessimist was wrong-tomorrow always has been better than today."
Paul Harvey was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1918. His father, a policeman, was killed during a shoot-out when Harvey was just three. His mother used the insurance money she received to expand and subdivide their modest home, renting the resulting two apartments and a spare room to support herself and her two children.
As a young boy, Harvey made radio sets-never imagining the eventual career he would have on nationwide radio. He also mowed lawns and shoveled snow to help the family make ends meet. He said of those years, "We were pinched hard in the Depression years, but never painfully pinched." While still in high school, Harvey was hired as an occasional announcer at KVOO Radio in Tulsa, while at the same time studying at the University of Tulsa. He became an announcer and then program director at KVOO before being hired as station manager at KFBI in Abilene, Kansas. That led to more radio work in Oklahoma City, then on to St. Louis as a roving report for KXOK, and then director of news and information for WKZO in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
In 1944, he went to Chicago to work for an NBC affiliate, serving as a substitute for other newscasters. Soon, he became popular enough to have his own show. He went coast-to-coast with ABC in 1951 and stayed with the network from that time.
Paul Harvey was the most listened-to radio personality in America. His broadcasts reached more than 20 million loyal listeners who tuned in every week to hear his unique blend of news and views. Paul Harvey News was the world's largest communications conglomerate with 1,300 radio stations, an additional 400 stations on the American Forces Radio Network, 100 television stations, and 300 newspapers. His broadcasts and newspaper columns were reprinted in the Congressional Record more than those of any other commentator.
He was named Commentator of the Year, Salesman of the Year, Person, Father and American of the Year. He was on the Gallup Poll list of America's most admired men, and was elected to the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Hall of Fame and Oklahoma Hall of Fame. He was also a five-time recipient of the Marconi Award for Network Personality of the Year.
Harvey attributed his popularity to his "identification with the conservative middle American audience." When asked about what has guided his life all these years, he remembered an elementary school teacher, Miss Harp, who told him: "Paul, never feel resentment in your heart for those who have more than you. Just do all you can as long as you live to preserve this last wonderful land in which any man willing to stay on his toes can reach for the stars."* Deceased