Personality Profile: Paul Harvey [audio]

Personality Profile: Paul Harvey [audio]

by Tracy Johnson

Long before John Stewart and Stephen Colbert was Paul Harvey.

Harvey was a brilliant storyteller, using news as content to weave personality into the homes of millions of Americans multiple times each day.

The legendary broadcaster delivered current, topical news and commentary with personality and perspective.

He informed, but with incredible artistry and timing.

His content was always on point for his personality profile, but it was the ability to tell stories made him a part of America’s kitchens, family rooms and automobiles for decades.

Harvey performed three daily feature-length segments:

  • A 5 minute morning show feature that served primarily as a content tease for the main daily feature.
  • A 15 minute segment airing in middays.
  • The Rest Of The Story, a daily five-minute storytelling feature usually airing in afternoon drive.

Paul Harvey: Storyteller

Here’s one of Harvey’s daily newscasts:

It amazes me how he skillfully:

  1. Weaves stories together, transitioning from one to the next.
  2. Expresses personality through the choice of words, without getting in the way of the content.
  3. Changes vocal inflection for impact. You can feel his perspective through his delivery.
  4. Varies his pace to add drama. The voice is a weapon. He is lethal. Listen to how he uses the pause.
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Also notice how benchmarks provide subtle hooks that add familiarity. For example:

  • Hello Americans, I’m Paul Harvey. Stand by for news.
  • Page 2, 3, etc.
  • Good Day.

Paul Harvey, Pitch Man

Also notice how he works commercial endorsements into content. It’s not an obvious ad, but a recommendation from a trusted friend. It sounds like content. Each time he performed a commercial, it was fresh, new and unique.

His commercials were a part of his content. And they had a shelf life of one play. That’s right. Each was a fresh piece of content, performed only that one time.

The Rest of the Story

In The Rest of the Story, Harvey demonstrates the full range of his amazing storytelling skills.

Listen to how drama builds throughout the segment, leading listeners to a surprise ending revealed in the last 10 seconds of the segment.

Harvey was a master of hooking the audience quickly. It’s clever, subtle and provokes curiosity.

Once hooked, it was impossible to tune out. Harvey builds the story with color, drama and detail.

His words engage of us to play along, leading to the reveal.

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Paul Harvey was one of a kind. His last broadcast was many years ago, and he passed away in 2009. But his artistry is timeless.

Harvey’s delivery technique has an application for your show. How will you apply his lessons?



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