When Blaine Harvey neared the microphone, so close his lips almost touched it, he became Dan Donovan — the doo-wop loving, wisecracking radio veteran whose 52 years on the air included interviews with Frankie Valli and John Lennon.

"For those of us who are in the business, it's the passing of a legend," said Mick Anselmo, market manager for CBS Radio Minneapolis. "He's a throwback and a one-and-only."

Harvey, whom KOOL 108 listeners knew as "The Geezer," died Aug. 31 after a heart attack. The Minnetonka resident was 73.

Growing up in little Biglerville, Pa., Harvey made his first microphone out of a Lincoln Log and a thumbtack. When he was 16 years old, he and a friend set up an illegal radio station on the sun porch, his brother Gordon Harvey said. The station could be heard by the 800 people living in town — until the FCC shut it down.

"He had that melodious baritone voice by that time," Gordon Harvey said, which "seemed much too mature for a teen."

After studying journalism and working as a disc jockey at Pennsylvania State University, Blaine Harvey took to WICE Radio in Providence, R.I., then WMEX in Boston and WCBM in Baltimore, according to the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting.

For a decade, he was "Dangerous Dan Donovan," at WFIL in Philadelphia. The station was performing at its peak, and its "boss jocks" ruled the airwaves, said Gerry Wilkinson, CEO of the nonprofit Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia.

"They were truly Philadelphia radio royalty," he said. Donovan "was a genuine talent in a market that had many."

Bob Wood grew up with Philadelphia radio and knew Dan Donovan's dynamic, deep voice long before working with him in Minnesota. Harvey came the Twin Cities in 1979 to DJ for KS95 and joined KOOL 108 in 1991.

Wood can't forget first hearing Harvey's voice on air in Minneapolis. Walking through the station's hallway, Wood was startled by an alarm noise going off over the airwaves. "Ladies and gentlemen," Harvey announced with great bravado, "you've just been a part of broadcast history:

"This has been my 500th mistake!"

Wood remembers laughing and thinking: "Whoever just did that was really, really funny. And he was."

It was his timing, friends say. His irreverence. The way he could recount the hidden history of a hit single.

At KOOL 108, he hosted a Sunday oldies show, spinning his favorites from the 1950s and 1960s.

"And until next week, keep in mind," he'd say, signing off, "rock 'n' roll is here to stay."

When he was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2006, the committee said that his "enthusiasm and style … have made him one of the region's best known and best loved DJs."

Off the air, Harvey was "a bit of a curmudgeon," Wood said. He was naturally shy and befuddled by technology. But despite the cantankerous exterior, "there was a gentle soul somewhere in there," Wood said.

Each Wednesday night, back in the day, Harvey and "his cronies" hung at the Hopkins House bar, Anselmo said, drinking cocktails and telling stories.

Harvey was driven by that love of telling stories, said his wife of seven years, Brenda Harvey. "He had so many good stories.

"That's who he was."

Harvey's first wife, Pamela, died in a 2004 car accident. His survivors also include his brother, Gordon Harvey; his daughter, Leanne Johnson; four granddaughters; a stepdaughter and three stepgrandchildren.

A memorial service was held Saturday.