The Legendary Dan Donovan (Blaine Harvey) passed away at the age of 73 early Sunday morning, August 31, 2014 after suffering from a massive heart attack. Donovan worked at WFIL Radio as a Boss Jock for ten years before heading to the mid-west and Minneapolis.
Dan was born in Philly and began his radio career at WGET in Gettysburg. He grew up in the area in Biglerville, just 8 miles from the battlefield. The small town only had 800 people (now 1,200) in it. Reports tell us that his first "microphone" was a Lincoln Log with a thumb tack.
His "second" microphone, according to his brother Gordon Harvey, was an illegal radio station on his parents' sun porch. He was broadcasting to the whole town until the FCC came in and shut him down.
Then he worked in York, Pennsylvania and WSBA. He studied journalism at the Pennsylvania State University and volunteered at the campu radio station and then went to Providence, Rhode Island where he worked at WICE.
From there, it was just a short hop, skip and a jump to Boston and WMEX. Then on to WCBM in Baltimore. Then back to the city of his birth, Philadelphia where he got fame as one of WFIL's Boss Jocks. He stayed there for a decade.
Then he went to the Twin Cities and KS 95 FM in 1979. In 1991, he moved cross town to KOOL 108 where he did afternoon drive. City Page of Minneapolis named him in 2006, the Twin Cities Best FM Radio Personality. In 2007, he celebrated with everyone a half century of broadcasting experience.
(photo courtesy of Farmoud56.com)
Broadcast Pioneers CEO Gerry Wilkinson said:
It was sort of a special time here in Philadelphia when WFIL, Famous 56 was at its peak. The Boss Jocks ruled the airwaves. They were truly Philadelphia radio royalty. They strolled the marketplace like a colossus. Member George Michael always said that he was the king, but in reality, they all were.
Dan Donovan was no exception. He was a king in the Philly market. He referred to himself as "Dangerous Dan Donovan" and he was. He stole the ratings that would otherwise would have gone to another station. He was a genuine talent in a market that had many. Dan Donovan, truly a Delaware Valley Radio Monarch, that's his legacy.
Joel Denver, who also worked at WFIL, Famous 56 as a Boss Jock said:
Dan was one of the most talented on-air personalities I've ever worked with. His timing was impeccable. He could deliver amazing sets and content while on-air, yet off the mic, he was on the shy side, and really preferred that no one hang out and shoot the breeze in his studio. He worked best in the control room alone. Totally a different man on the air. Rest in peace, Dan. Your energy and passion will be missed.
Member Jay Meyers, former PD of the station when it was oldies, told us by e-mail:
It was actually 30 years ago last week that he did his last morning show on 'FIL and returned to Minneapolis after only seven months, and that led to the Joey Reynolds show, which was Joey's return to full time radio after a thirteen year absence.
Dan later worked in my region when I had Minny while at Clear Channel. He originally left Philly after almost ten years in 1979 and spent all but those seven months since in Minneapolis. Real name Blaine Harvey and about the shyest person who ever worked for me as a big time personality jock.
He was as different once the mic was on as any human being could possibly be. He was a real good guy too, although the last ten years of his life he was very sad and lived alone. His wife was tragically killed in a car accident in the Twin Cities about then years ago.
One antecdote, Dan loved to drink but he was also very responsible So Wednesday night was his night out, his wife would drop him at his favorite watering hole about 8 pm and pick him up at closing. That's when friends would go out with Dan. Did it all his years in Minneapolis. During the time I had the market, I'd join him about twice a year and we'd talk the good old days of radio and WFIL.
(Left to right) Dan Donovan and Roy Atkins (former WFIL Engineer)
2006 WFIL Famous 56 Union
(photo courtesy of Farmoud56.com)
Member Bob Hamilton (one of the Bobby Mitchell guys on Famous 56 and no relation to Bob Mitchell on WIBG) sent us this e-mail:
Not many of us left. Dan was very much to himself until he opened the mic and marvelous things came rushing into a talk up. He was a superb individual who loved what he did. A true pro to say the least. I spent personal & professional time with Dan. A true gentlemen!