I’ve lived in the Rockford area now for several years, but I still feel a kinship for Chicagoland. There’s not that same connection to public figures here. There’s less media, of course, fewer television channels and radio stations. And it’s a smaller market. News anchors stay for a few years before moving on to bigger and better things. There is admiration for local sports legends, but it tends to be from afar. Sports stars shine locally until they’re brought to the attention of the major leagues. After that the local media mentions there is a local connection, but otherwise any news is reported the same as it would be from anywhere else.
Chicago seems to be more of an end. If you can make it there, you get adopted as one of the family. And there is something like three million families in Chicagoland. Year after year, for better or worse, there is a common cast of characters you listen to on the radio, watch on television or see on the sidelines. They become the people you see everyday, like the folks in the neighborhood, familiar faces that you would smile and offer a wave to if you see them on the street. You smile at their eccentricities; they become another thread in Chicagoland lore. You can forgive them almost anything. Dennis Rodman was an a##$%^& when he played for Detroit. When he became one of the championship Chicago Bulls, he was still an a##$%^&, but now he was our a##$%^&. It’s a family thing; what can you do?
So, that’s why it hurts when legends pass away. It is like family. It was a bad week for Chicago icons. Two greats from the Chicago Bulls died within hours of each other. And over the weekend, Paul Harvey – who had broadcasted on radio for over 50 years – passed away at the age of 90. I didn’t know him personally, but he was a permanent fixture on the radio dial for as long as I can remember. His style and delivery were unique in a world where pauses are considered “dead air”. He still read his commercials like they were written for Jack Benny or the Fred Allen show. As a broadcaster, he will be missed because he was the last of an archetype that started when radio started. Others will take his place on the air, but they won’t be able to emulate him. It wouldn’t sound “right”. And once more, someone from the Chicagoland family has to be laid to rest. Paul Harvey, good day.