Little Paulie Aurandt’s Story

Published 4:25 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Little Paulie Aurandt was born in America’s heartland on Sept. 4 way back in 1918. His daddy, Harry Harrison Aurandt, was a policeman in Tulsa, Okla., but little Paulie didn’t get to know him too well because his daddy was murdered when Paulie was just 3 years old.

But his mother, Anna, helped to bring her son along. One of her greatest allies in the raising of little Paulie was a new-fangled invention known as the radio. Paulie was so fascinated by radios that he even built radio receivers as a hobby and hung around the radio station KVOO in Tulsa. He was there so much that the manager of the station decided that he might as well hire the young boy.

His first job was to simply clean up the place. He didn’t mind doing that but all those dials and toggle switches were just too much to leave alone for the young boy. Plus, one of his high school teachers liked Paulie’s voice so much that she thought it would be good for the new medium. He was a pleasant and naturally engaging student and was allowed to fill in “on the air” spots every now and then and even got to read the news occasionally.

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Paulie graduated from high school and enrolled at the University of Tulsa and was able to keep his job at the radio station. He moved up to become the primary announcer and program director. Soon, though, Tulsa could not hold Paulie Aurandt and he moved on to various radio stations and towns in the Midwest.

One of those stations was KXOK in St. Louis. As it turned out, everything was OK in St. Louis and he met a girl named Lynne. Paulie was so enamored of Lynne that he asked her to marry him on the first date they had. She refused, but not for long. She finally said, “Yes” to Paulie and, from then on, she was no longer Lynne, but “Angel.”

Angel would have a tremendous effect on the life of her husband. One person has since said “she was to Paulie what Colonel Parker was to Elvis Presley.” They worked together beautifully as World War II came and went.

Angel also joined with him to bring another into the family. They had a son in 1949 and named him Junior. Eventually all three would become a team.

The team was centered in Chicago as Paul Aurandt finally hit the big time in 1951. He joined the ABC Radio Network and his “News and Comment” show became a daily staple from sea to shining sea. His news and commentary were different from the ordinary. It seemed that Paul had an intuitive ability to choose news stories that were interesting beyond what other newscasters were broadcasting.

Whereas the normal news programs dealt with New York and Washington, Paul’s stories came from little towns and communities that one might not hear about. The stories weren’t about the big shots that liked to think they were, well, big shots. Instead, on Paulie’s show, we heard about everyday folks who might be called the salt of the earth.

And, then, there was Paul’s style. He had a great and engaging voice that seemed natural for announcing. Yet, he didn’t seem to come from some perfect announcing factory. He got excited sometimes and you could hear it. Then, the next moment he might slow down or even stop. One might even wonder if Paul was still on the air. Then, he’d say something like, “Page Two” and we would smile and know that he was about to sell something.

When little Paulie Aurandt was getting started in Tulsa back in the 1930s, he probably never thought about just how far his journey would take him. He probably never knew that more than 1,200 radio stations would carry his program and that his voice would be a daily comfort to at least 25 million Americans.

Not many people can span the number of generations that he did and continue in relevance. ABC radio thought so much of his influence and longevity that, in November 2000, even though he was 82 years old, they gave him a brand, new 10-year contract worth $100 million. I’m sure that as confident as he was, little Paulie Aurandt never thought that big back in 1933 when his teacher suggested to him that he speak into that microphone at KVOO.

Numbers of stations and people listening and money earned, though very impressive, were not the things we remember about this remarkable life. We remember that, even without seeing him, we felt we knew him. When we would see a picture of him smiling, we were not surprised. His voice sounded like a smile.

It was a voice that we looked forward to hearing as we were riding down the road in our automobiles. Monday through Friday, at twelve o’clock, our dials were tuned to some AM station. Most news would make us turn the dial, but not when the voice would say, “Hello Americans, stand by for news!” I always liked the “For What It’s Worth” ending.

Little Paulie Aurandt, who at 3 years of age lost his daddy to murder, but found his life in a microphone, was possibly the most popular voice radio will ever have. You remember it don’t you? Oh, I almost forgot to mention that he had a middle name. That’s important. It was Harvey. The name was Paul Harvey Aurandt.

And now you know the rest of the story. (Pause) Good day!