Radio's Paul Harvey, 90, dies in Arizona

CHICAGO - Paul Harvey, 90, the news commentator and talk-radio pioneer whose staccato style made him one of the nation's most familiar voices, died yesterday in Arizona.

Mr. Harvey died surrounded by family, said Louis Adams, a spokesman for ABC Radio Networks, where Mr. Harvey worked for more than 50 years. Cause of death was not immediately available.

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Mr. Harvey had been forced off the air for several months in 2001 because of a virus that weakened a vocal cord. But he returned to work in Chicago and was still active as he passed his 90th birthday. His death comes less than a year after that of his wife and longtime producer, Lynne.

Known for his resonant voice and trademark delivery of The Rest of the Story, Mr. Harvey had been heard nationally since 1951, when he began his News and Comment for ABC Radio Networks.

He became a heartland icon, delivering news and commentary with a distinctive Midwestern flavor. "Stand by for news!" he told his listeners. He was credited with inventing or popularizing terms such as skyjacker, Reaganomics, and guesstimate.

In 2005, Mr. Harvey was one of 14 notables chosen as recipients of the presidential Medal of Freedom. He also was an inductee in the Radio Hall of Fame, as was Lynne Harvey.

He composed his twice-daily news commentaries for ABC from a downtown office near Lake Michigan. Rising at 3:30 each morning, he ate a bowl of oatmeal, then combed the news wires and spoke with editors across the country in search of succinct tales of American life for his program.

At the peak of his career, he reached more than 24 million listeners on more than 1,200 radio stations and charged $30,000 to give a speech. His syndicated column was carried by 300 newspapers.

His fans identified with his plainspoken political commentary, but critics called him an out-of-touch conservative. He was an early supporter of the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy and a longtime backer of the Vietnam War. Perhaps Mr. Harvey's most famous broadcast came in 1970, when he abandoned that stance, announcing his opposition to President Nixon's expansion of the war. "Mr. President, I love you ... but you're wrong," he said.

In 1976, Harvey began broadcasting his anecdotal descriptions of the lives of famous people. The Rest of the Story started chronologically, with the person's identity revealed at the end.

Harvey was born in Tulsa, Okla. His father, a police officer, was killed when he was a toddler. A high school teacher took note of his distinctive voice and launched him on a broadcast career. Lynne and Mr. Harvey were married in 1940 and had a son, Paul Jr., who worked closely with his father on several shows.