Danial "Danny" Reese, a former Baltimore broadcaster who was known as "Old Blue Eyes" and whose radio career spanned two decades, died April 28 from a heart attack at his Naples, Fla., home. He was 61.
"I got to know Danny when we worked together at WCAO. We did mornings together and just clicked," said Ron Matz, a veteran Baltimore radio personality who is now a WJZ-TV reporter.
"We were both friends on and off the air and remained so," said Mr. Matz. ""Danny was a very popular on-air personality who got Baltimore. He understood Baltimore and what it was all about."
Johnny Dark, the legendary Baltimore radio personality, worked with Mr. Reese at WCAO.
"He was a terrific broadcaster," said Mr. Dark. "The one thing about Danny, when I was program director, he'd knock on my door and say, 'Gotta minute?' In that case, I'd better have 15 or 30 minutes. He loved to talk."
Mr. Dark said that Mr. Reese did not have a particular broadcasting shtick.
"Danny was pretty much what you see is what you get. He was himself on the radio," he said. "When the format switched, Danny and Ron Matz were the morning team of 'Reese and the Ronster.'"
Reese Danial Blankenship — who legally changed his name to Danial Reese in 1991 — was born in Havre de Grace and raised in Delta, Pa.
He was a 1969 graduate of Kennard-Dale High School in Fawn Grove, Pa., where he was an all-state sprinter for the track and field team.
Mr. Reese began his radio career in 1973 on WNOW in York, Pa., as an on-air personality and a short time later moved to WPOC in Baltimore.
He later worked as a disc jockey at WITH and WCAO, until WCAO changed its format from country music to an all-gospel format in 1991.
"He was a very generous guy to work with and when he did remotes with listeners, Danny liked talking to people and was always generous with his time," recalled Mr. Matz. "And music was always his passion."
Tim Watts, a disc jockey, worked with Mr. Reese at WCAO's sister station, V-103.
"He was a jock's jock. Danny made both the audience and the other jocks laugh and was the kind of guy you wanted to hang out with," said Mr. Watts, who now works for WWIN-FM.
"He conducted himself on air very professionally and made contact with the audience through the radio," said Mr. Watts. "When they turned on Danny, they weren't listening to some homogenous guy reading liner cards. He always knew what to talk about."
In addition to his studio work, Mr. Reese also made personal appearances at store openings and was a disc jockey at clubs and concerts.
After leaving radio, Mr. Reese worked in public relations in the Towson office of American Income Life Insurance Co. and later in mortgage sales for several companies.
When he and his wife moved to Naples in 2005, he had been working at Equity Mortgage in Owings Mills. After relocating, he sold advertising space for the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Naples edition of Florida Weekly, a newspaper.
"Every Saturday, he worked at Gator Music in downtown Naples," said his wife of 22 years, the former Veronica "Ronni" Mora. "He never lost his passion for music."
In 2010, Mr. Reese brought Sites 'N Sound, his high school rock 'n' roll band, to Naples, where they performed twice a year for their Maryland and Pennsylvania fans, his wife said.
He also joined Redemption, a Fort Myers, Fla.-based classic rock band, in 2011 and was the group's front man. The band performed in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Matlacha and Naples.
"Danny always loved classic rock, and those were the songs he specialized in," said Mr. Matz.
Mr. Reese was also a collector of classic guitars.
"He was cleaning his favorite Fender when he was stricken. He had it in his hands," said his brother, Dick Blankenship of Stewartstown, Pa.
A celebration of Mr. Reese's life will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. June 1 at the Hunt Valley Inn, 245 Shawan Road.
In addition to his wife and brother, Mr. Reese is survived a son, Adam Reynolds of Baltimore; a daughter, Lauren Reynolds of Abingdon; his mother, Helen Blankenship of Shrewsbury, Pa.; a sister, Sharon King of Stewartstown; and many nieces and nephews. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.