The "most listened to man" in broadcasting passed away Saturday. After more than seven decades on the air, venerable radioman Paul Harvey's folksy speech and plain talk are no more.
Harvey died at the age of 90 at a hospital near his winter home in Phoenix.
His death came nine months after that of his wife, Lynne Cooper Harvey, whom he often called "Angel" on air, and who was also his business partner and the first producer ever inducted in the the Radio Hall of Fame. She died in May 2008 at age 92.
"My father and mother created from thin air what one day became radio and television news," Paul Harvey Jr. said Saturday. "So, in the past year, an industry has lost its godparents. And, today millions have lost a friend."
Harvey's career in radio spanned more than 70 years, and his shows "News & Comment" and "Rest of the Story" made him a familiar voice in Americans' homes across the country.
From his humble beginnings as a teenager helping out cleaning up at a local radio station, Harvey went on to have his broadcasts carried by 1,350 commercial radio stations, as well as 400 stations of the Armed Forces Radio Service, and he was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990.
"Paul Harvey was one of the most gifted and beloved broadcasters in our nation's history," said ABC Radio Networks President Jim Robinson in a statement released Saturday. "As he delivered the news each day with his own unique style and commentary, his voice became a trusted friend in American households.
"Countless millions of listeners were both informed and entertained by his 'News & Comment' and 'Rest of the Story' features," Robinson said. "Even after the passing of his loving wife Angel in May 2008, Paul would not slip quietly into retirement as he continued to take the microphone and reach out to his audience. We will miss our dear friend tremendously and are grateful for the many years we were so fortunate to have known him. Our thoughts and prayers are now with his son Paul Jr. and the rest of the Harvey family."
Former President George W. Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush were saddened to hear of Harvey's death.
"Paul was a friendly and familiar voice in the lives of millions of Americans," Bush said in a statement released late today. "His commentary entertained, enlightened, and informed. Laura and I are pleased to have known this fine man, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Bush presented Harvey with the nation's highest civilian honor, the medal of freedom, in November 2005.
Harvey entertained and informed generations of Americans by paying attention to the people and places most others overlooked.
Born in Oklahoma in 1918, he was broadcasting from Tulsa by age 14. His love and respect for simple American values permeated his broadcasts, and he celebrated that life.
"Emporia, Kan., is home to this state's national champion honeymooners: Margaret and Joe Pearson," he said in one broadcast. "Theirs has endured 72 years."
Harvey started working at a local radio station at the suggestion of one of his high school teachers. He started out just helping clean up, but soon was on the air himself, filling in with reading the news or commercials.
After a stint at radio station KFBI in Abilene, Kansas, he moved to KXOK in St. Louis.
By 1940, Paul Harvey's easy wit and laconic speech made him Chicago's most popular newscaster and gave him his own show.