For more than five decades the most listened-to voice in America belonged to Paul Harvey. Now it will be heard again on WGN 720-AM — longtime Chicago flagship of his vast radio empire.
Starting April 27, the Nexstar Media Group news/talk station will rebroadcast classic episodes of “The Rest of the Story,” historical vignettes Harvey hosted five days a week from 1976 until his death in 2009. They’ll air during Bob Sirott’s morning show on WGN.
Harvey’s son, Paul Harvey Jr., who wrote the series, personally selected the 10 episodes for the initial two-week run. Depending on how they’re received, the rebroadcasts could continue indefinitely on WGN or even expand to national syndication.
“Paul Harvey’s radio adventure made him one of the most influential personalities in history,” said Sean Compton, executive vice president of Nexstar Media Group overseeing WGN. “It’s an honor for WGN radio to re-introduce his amazing body of work to those of us who miss him and the younger generation who didn’t have the privilege of growing up with him.”
From studios at Michigan Avenue and East Wacker Drive (designated honorary Paul Harvey Drive in 1988), the legendary commentator delivered his daily news and feature broadcasts to more than 25 million listeners on 1,200 radio stations across the country.
Focusing on forgotten or little-known facts about historical events and personalities, “The Rest of the Story” invariably ended with a surprise twist and Harvey’s trademark finish: “And now you know . . . the rest of the story.”
The three-minute radio vignettes spawned three books and a brief television series.
“’The Rest of the Story’ is the first marriage of history and mystery,” Paul Harvey Jr. once explained. “Every subject is painstakingly researched, the historical settings are factual. There is always a mystery to be solved. And when the mystery unfolds, the [listener] is left with a startling revelation which is often sheer fun.”
WGN has not yet announced precisely when the rebroadcasts will run during Sirott’s show, which airs from 5 to 9 a.m. weekdays.
“Of course I grew up listening to him in the morning and at noon,” Sirott said of the multiple Hall of Fame broadcaster. “But one of my favorite experiences every year was driving through the mountain west on our family ski trip and finding Paul Harvey on dozens of radio stations in cities large and small no matter where we were.
“Hearing his voice booming into the car as we passed the majestic Rockies was the ultimate American experience for me. I never dreamed I’d get to spend a day with him for the CBS ‘West 57th’ feature I did or have him as part of a radio show I’d be doing. . . . And how appropriate since we’re broadcasting from a building that’s on the stretch of Wacker near Michigan Avenue named Paul Harvey Drive.”
Watch Sirott’s “West 57th” profile of Harvey (originally broadcast on November 12, 1988):
Thursday’s comment of the day: Joe Dennis: Radio also killed itself when it standardized playlists and cut local talent around the same time of the iPod revolution. It gave people NO reason to listen to radio. I teach in college, and I asked my 30 students is they listen to radio — they looked at me dumbfounded. Not one listens to terrestrial radio. And they’re all mass communications students!