Glenn Reynolds: The Paul Harvey of the Internet

Ladies and gentlemen, Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, is the Paul Harvey of the Internet.

Now, I realize that many of you who have all the answers have all those answers because you’re not old enough to have the answer to who Paul Harvey was. You can click to Wikipedia, but I’ll summarize it for you: Paul Harvey was a syndicated radio broadcaster whose little programs appeared on a pile of stations. Your grandparents probably trusted him more than each other. He carried quirky offbeat stories interspersed with commercial pitches for national products, and his “The Rest of the Story” segments told you interesting trivia, real or not, about celebrities and famous people.

This comparison occurred to me after I ordered something that Instapundit mentions a lot, and I thought it was a worthwhile purchase because of the good testimonials and endorsement I found there.

So how is Instapundit like Paul Harvey?

  • Paul Harvey was everywhere. When I traveled from Wisconsin to Missouri to visit family, the same voice that was on the radio in Milwaukee was on the radio in St. Louis at the same time each day. This was before the real rise of AM syndicated talkers, so it was a big deal. And Instapundit is everywhere there’s an Internet connection.
  • Paul Harvey aggregated news from various sources. He didn’t do original reporting; he just scoured the wire services for interesting tidbits and reported those. Like Instapundit does with the news and the blogosphere.
  • Paul Harvey came on several times a day. Of course, if you read Instapundit, you read it several times a day, too.
  • Paul Harvey had his trademarks. His voice and delivery were distinct, and he had a number of phrases he sprinkled into his broadcasts. Instapundit? Heh. Indeed.. ‘Nuff said.
  • Paul Harvey pitched products. During his broadcasts, Paul Harvey had a series of drop-in advertisements for a series of national advertisers, and he placed them smoothly before going on. Instapundit talks about various consumer goods, deals on Amazon, and books mailed to him. Although he’s not compensated by the people whose product he discusses, he does get some dinero from Amazon if people buy through his site. So he talks about what he likes and packs it with testimonials from other readers. And, crikey, if I’m not taken to purchase some of those things.

So he’s not exactly Paul Harvey, but even though it’s a similar set of wires and tubes, the Internet is not the radio.

But, as I said, the analogy came to me as I bought this book Instapundit was mentioning, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It.

Other blogs mention things and have ads and stuff, but I ignore most of it. But if it’s on Instapundit with testimonials and it’s something I’m looking for, I remember it. Sometimes I remember it when it becomes something I need to look for (which explains the Midland WR300 weather radio in my bedroom).

(Unrelated, sort of: This post by Instapundit from almost 10 years ago.)

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers. If you’re in IT, you might like my blog QA Hates You. Don’t forget my novel John Donnelly’s Gold, about which Professor Reynolds said, “IN THE MAIL:”, is available for 99 cents on Kindle and in paperback.

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12 thoughts on “Glenn Reynolds: The Paul Harvey of the Internet

  1. However, sometimes Professor Reynolds displays merely a provocative narrative meme, and he does not necessarily have the “rest of the story” – you have to check story by story.

  2. Did Paul Harvey say that? I search the Internet and I get some hits for it, marking it as a not uncommon error, but I don’t see any for Paul Harvey.

  3. I heard it with my own two ears and almost choked on my lunch. He also had a tendency to pronounce unfamiliar foreign words in a kind of bastardized Spanish: thus Sarajevo became “Sarahayvoe.”

  4. Another similarity that most readers under 50 would not be aware of. In Paul’s early days, Paul was quite the conservative (I am not sure if libertarian was used in those days–classical liberal would have been more likely). His book, Remember These Things, possibly still findable in the dusty stacks of your library, was a major factor in my becoming a conservative in my early teens.

  5. I really like the comparison. For me, they are (or in Paul’s case, were) very consistent and somewhat comforting fixtures in my life. My father used to listen to Paul while he had his lunch each day. I started doing it as well when I went off to college. I went to school for Aeronautical Science, which means learning to fly along with all the other college stuff. I had a solo training sortie over the lunchtime hour, but I was able to dial up Paul on the ADF radio and listen to him while practicing my maneuvers. Very cool!
    Glenn provides a lot of the same consistencies that Paul did, but on a much grander scale and on my own time. I always look forward to seeing what Glenn decides is important or interesting to post, sometimes with his opinion tagged on to the link, sometimes not. I’m constantly amazed that I can check the site an hour before bedtime, and then check it one more time and find something new. I appreciate that he scrubs the web for me, saves me time and effort, and I can count on him to be there, kind of like Paul Harvey.
    Paul Harvey always said that when he did his lunchtime news program that he was writing and doing his program for his mother. Nothing made it on the program that would be unpleasant for her. I wonder if Glenn ever had a target person or audience we’re unaware of.
    Sorry this is long, but one last thing. I worry a bit about him becoming burned out and overloaded with teaching, podcasts, the web site, conferences, and so many emails that he can’t possibly get through them all. The term “peak Instapundit” has come up along with his hesitation to hire someone to help him carry the load. If he’s ever going to reach the iconic level that Paul achieved, which isn’t really the goal, it will require some help. I think it does right now…

  6. I was skeptical that anyone could be compared to the immutable Paul Harvey, but being a fair-minded man I read your article. Well done, for I must agree that Mr Reynolds is a modern Paul Harvey, and what’s better, his commentary lasts a lot longer (as it’s on the Internet as compared to a few lingering seconds from the radio).

  7. This was well done and you successfully induced me to go and buy your book. I have bookmarked your site and will be returning regularly so you now have to keep up to my high expectations.

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