Especially when he had to leave the air due to problems with his voice a few years back, radio folks started buzzing about the "replacement strategy" for veteran ABC News Radio commentator Paul Harvey...the iconic broadcaster who's heard on hundreds of stations nationwide, including WTAM/1100 Cleveland, WAKR/1590 Akron, WHBC/1480 Canton, WEOL/930 Elyria and others throughout the state of Ohio.
Word's coming out this morning that ABC Radio may be looking to former U.S. Senator and "Law and Order" star Fred Thompson to become Harvey's successor. According to an item in this morning's New York Post, ABC Radio suits confirm talking to Thompson...though they don't link the talks with replacing Harvey.
For his part, Harvey...at 87, still cherished and loved by listeners a fraction of his age... is in the middle of a 10 year contract valued at a reported $100 million. With his drawing power and stature, one would assume that an early exit from that contract would be only his call to make - barring future health concerns - even with the prospect of Citadel's recent bid to buy ABC Radio.
OMW's having trouble wrapping our mind around Fred Thompson as "the next Paul Harvey". While the Harvey Franchise is certainly lucrative, it's difficult for us to link it with anyone except Paul Harvey himself. While thought has been given to other possible replacements - including ABC's own Doug Limerick or Gil Gross - the Harvey format is an anachronism in today's fast moving world of radio. After all, what radio station will give up a 15 minute daily block at noon for anyone *except* Paul Harvey?
We've often wondered if ABC would be better off just ending Paul Harvey's segments when he finally does step away from the microphone. Anything else would seem a pale imitation for us.