"You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do." Henry Ford
"The winds and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators." Edward Gibbon
"If there is a 50-50 chance that something can go wrong, then nine times out of ten it will." Paul Harvey
Today's image: blue or red?? by bratan. Great shot. Thanks for sharing.
Many fine pieces have been written in appreciation of the great Paul Harvey. Bob Greene has created an exceptional one (via CNN). Greene said Harvey was "...the ultimate singer-songwriter. He wrote the lyrics. And then he went onto his stage and performed them." Harvey, as noted by Greene and others, was a craftsman. The Okie that invented an American radio empire from scratch, Harvey was the accomplished one of a kind performer who headlined a show of national importance. He worked six days a week on that show and he enjoyed an amazing run of more than 57 years. At the final curtain the Harvey shows were carried on 1,200 stations and 400 Armed Forces Network affiliates.
We can all learn something from Paul Harvey. Allow me to suggest six lessons.
1. Timing counts. Harvey launched his network radio show in 1951 long after the stars had left the building. TV was the hot property at the time and few saw any future whatsoever in radio, after all, it had been officially pronounced dead. Harvey made a bold contrarion wager at exactly the right time. He recognized adversity as being pregnant with opportunity.
2. Original concepts create contrast. Paul Harvey News and Comment was not a better version of the quarter-hour news program, it was a fresh, different approach, a reinvention. Harvey was the showman who kept the flame of appointment listening relevant and rewarding. He endeared himself to the point of being a part of daily life; Paul Harvey was a habit. Harvey's metier was capturing the attention and the imagination of millions. His became the most popular, the most successful, quarter-hour program in radio history. Moreover, it remains the last of that once prevalent configuration.
3. Judgment matters; effective storytelling starts with the right story. Harvey had an advantage of birth. Strong Midwestern sensibilities and a work ethic nurtured in Tulsa and matured to full measure in Chicago. He had a gift, an ability to recognize and appreciate the right raw materials. As he once told Larry King "I don't think of myself as a profound journalist. I think of myself as a professional parade watcher who can't wait to get out of bed every morning and rush down to the teletypes and pan for gold."
4. Great shows start with great writing. Harvey was a wordsmith. Every word counted. He had a deep understanding of writing for the ear. As Greene said "the writing itself was so beautiful -- his respect for words, his understanding of the potency of economy, his instinct for removing the superfluous."
5. Successful performance is an fine art. Harvey didn't simply read his well crafted script, he staged a performance. He was at once a bigger than life character, an authentic personality and the straight talking friend of the family. Mindful that names makes news he was the uncommon evangelist that led a daily celebration noting the achievements of the common folk. He employed the pause to great dramatic effect knowing that silence is powerful punctuation. His kickers were served up with a playful wink. The epilogue brought a smile, a grin or a groan but always created a moment of relief, a welcomed distraction from the press of daily affairs.
6. There's no show without the business. Harvey was an old school pitchman. Being a peddler was an essential part of his act, he knew sales paid the bills. His unabashed enthusiastic embrace of sponsors was unique if not anachronistic. Harvey pitched using an engaging personal approach, a certain polite persuasion, a respectful disarming charm that is perhaps indigenous to Chicago. He took a page from the playbook of another famous Chicago ad man - Leo Burnett. It was Burnett who believed the objective of advertising copy was to discover the "inherent drama" in the product itself and present it believably, like a news story. No one has ever done that better or more effectively on the radio than Paul Harvey.
For those who wish to study the practical application of the vogue - including the popular notions of self as brand or followers as tribes - one need look no further than that amazing American original, Paul Harvey. He wrote the book.