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Paul Harvey's son make sure listeners get the rest of the story

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

By Adrian McCoy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

For many radio listeners, "The Rest of the Story" is synonymous with veteran broadcaster Paul Harvey. But another Paul Harvey plays a major role in the radio feature: Paul Harvey Jr., who is the show's producer/writer/creator, and who has been behind the scenes since "Rest of the Story" debuted on May 10, 1976.

 
 

Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story" airs on WPTT-AM (1360) Monday through Friday at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday at noon.

   
 

Tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of "The Rest of the Story." Almost 4,700 broadcasts later, it continues to draw more than 15 million listeners a week on the ABC Radio Network.

Twenty five years is a long run for anything on radio, but Paul Harvey's own career spans an even wider range: The 82-year-old journalist/broadcaster started working in radio at age 14.

Paul Harvey Jr. (real name Paul Harvey Aurandt II) didn't set out to follow his father's giant footsteps. He attended the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University, where he earned a master's degree in piano performance. As Paul Aurandt, he went on to a 12-year concert and composing career. His compositions include opera and his signature piece, his own challenging Sonata in B flat Minor.

He also wrote the play "Burton," about actor Richard Burton, which premiered in 1996 at the Caldwell Theatre Company in Boca Raton, Fla.

Even with the demanding production schedule of a six-day-a-week radio show, Harvey Jr., 53, has managed to continue his creative projects on a limited basis by, as he puts it, "stealing time from sleep." Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the copyright of Sonata in B-flat Minor and Harvey Jr. marked the occasion with a documentary recording in August.

The "Rest of the Story" tagline dates back to World War II, when Harvey used it at the end of human interest stories he included in his daily news commentaries. Listeners responded and "The Rest of the Story" became a stand-alone spinoff.

"I had always been intrigued by the potential of adding to the Paul Harvey lineup something which was less dated than the news, something that would use his gifts as a storyteller to advantage," Harvey Jr. says. "Developing the series was something we had talked about off and on for years."

It was a tough sell. "There was only one executive in the entire industry who thought it would work. The majority thought radio was simply a jukebox/news box.

"Radio programming has always been far too narrow-minded. I've always thought there should be comedies and dramas and game shows and educational programs and all kinds of things, aimed at turning the superficial liability of darkness, which radio possesses, into an asset."

The formula seems simple: Take a human interest story, and have it read by a well-known voice like Harvey.

What makes a "Rest of the Story" story?

"I guess it's just the way I look at what I'm reading," Harvey Jr. says. "I've always looked at history and current events a little inside-out, a little differently from other people. In the course of the reading I do, I'll see something that stands out, something that is particularly intriguing. I'm really not looking for anything. It usually presents itself."

The younger Harvey originally saw his own role on the program as temporary: He'd get the series up and running and then bring in another producer. But somewhere along the way, he says, "it became rather comfortable not having to get up for a performance a couple times a week."

But that keen musical ear still works for the radio show. "Paul's musical background carries over to his writing," Paul Harvey Sr. has said. "I can feel the rhythm in the stories, and that helps me deliver them more effectively. I couldn't have a better writing partner."

His son attributes the program's longevity to "the uniqueness of the concept and the extraordinary communicative, storytelling ability of my dad."



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