An energetic audience converged at a nearly sold out Eastman Theatre to see radio personality Paul Harvey speak last Thursday evening. Known for his bravery as a broadcaster, Harvey spoke about taking courage despite the negativity and struggle that shrouds America today.
“This event has been anticipated for so many years,” WHAM 1180 broadcaster Beth Adams said in her introduction of the radio icon. Harvey last spoke in the Rochester area 36 years ago at Roberts Wesleyan College.
Harvey, a World War II veteran, has been employed for 51 years by ABC Radio Networks. He is well known for his programs “News and Comment,” and “The Rest of the Story,” which sheds light on obscure facts about events and famous people.
The 84-year-old Harvey received a standing ovation as he easily made his way to the podium. Harvey’s style was humorous and light, but direct. “I like [Harvey’s] low key delivery,” commented 75-year-old Pittsford resident Paul Knickerbocker.
Equipped with an arsenal of anecdotes from everyday life in America, Harvey took aim at examining the negativity and worry that Americans endure each day. Harvey placed much of the blame for such negativity on the media’s coverage of bad news. “Handling the news today makes me feel like a bare-handed sewer worker,” Harvey said.
He read aloud headlines from Thursday’s Democrat and Chronicle, adding, “Sin, sex and guns make more noise [than good news].” Harvey condemned American consumers for their preference for bad news, and “at least it’s not me” attitudes.
He further attacked the media for its frequently negative angle on positive stories. As an example, he suggested that the media should report an employment rate of 94.3 percent in America ? not an unemployment rate of 5.7percent. “Don’t let the headline writers rain on your parade,” Harvey said.
Harvey commended the U.S. for 30 years of prosperity. “With you carrying the whip, and [Federal Reserve Chairman] Alan Greenspan holding the reins things are getting better all the time,” he said.
Harvey also said he believes that the media injects America with worry. “The FDA has said that mother’s milk may be unsafe,” he said and continued jokingly, “but nobody has been able to ascertain where to put the warning label.”
Harvey sided with the public, however, when addressing the confusion the media adds to life in the United States. Harvey cited a newspaper with two articles about birth control in the same issue ? one saying birth control is healthy, and the other saying it is unhealthy. Harvey joked that this problem boils down to an overall lack of logic in the media. “If life were logical it is men who would ride side-saddle,” he said.
Harvey spoke about the responsibility of U.S. citizens as individuals and as a nation. “Freedom implies responsibility,” he said. Using as examples failing ex-communist Eastern European countries, and tribal wars in Africa, he declared, “Self-government won’t work without self-discipline.”
Harvey challenged audience members to live responsibly, and to avoid damaging excesses such as drugs, alcohol and unhealthy diets. “With nothing more than self-discipline, reports the New England Journal [of Medicine], we could expect to live 100 years,” he said.
Harvey worked his way deeper into the issues America faces in the 21st century.
“Time does not change, it goes in circles” Harvey said. He compared today’s economic struggles and terrorism to a passing storm ? a temporary test that he believes the U.S. is passing. “We go through a little hell, but we come out better, stronger and more prosperous.”
The audience was mainly composed of community members, with few UR students.
“I really enjoy Paul Harvey, I’ve been listening for years. I expected a positive speech that is very pro-America,” Pittsford resident Heidi Tomkiewicz said about Harvey’s speech.