Eddie Gallaher, 88, the veteran radio broadcaster whose reassuring baritone was familiar to generations of Washington listeners, died Nov. 26 of complications from hip surgery at the Methodist Home in the District.

Once one of the region's most popular morning radio hosts, Mr. Gallaher was the last of the low-key gentleman deejays who dominated Washington's radio scene in its heyday. When he retired from WGAY three years ago, he was the only one from that era still hosting a daily show. He survived major changes in the broadcasting industry, managing to stay on the air for 53 years despite losing vision and mobility in his final decade.

Frank Ahrens wrote in The Washington Post that Mr. Gallaher remained a constant in broadcasting in part because his musical knowledge was encyclopedic and his sales pitches seamless.

"His weather reports are relentlessly upbeat," Ahrens wrote. "If flaming rocks were falling from the sky, he would note that fewer rocks are falling now than earlier in the morning. Most notably, his voice is still unmistakable and mellifluous."

Another writer called Mr. Gallaher "a tonic for those who are sick and tired of screaming, cursing morning jocks." Mr. Gallaher said that he attempted in his programs to "talk to one person out there instead of thousands, and I am honest with him."

When he wasn't playing music, he would rattle off birthday greetings, horoscopes and consumer tips, or make pitches on behalf of Children's Hospital. He closed every broadcast with his signature phrase: "It's so nice to know so many nice people."

Mr. Gallaher also worked for the stations WTOP, WWDC and WASH. He did Washington Redskins play-by-play and entertainment broadcasting for WTOP-TV and a Sunday music program for CBS.

His Washington radio programs were beamed largely to the mainstream, attracting admirers of orchestrated music and of acts that included Frank Sinatra, the Mills Brothers, Patti Page and the Carpenters. In the 1950s and '60s, he was credited with helping turn records into local hits, playing songs by Percy Faith, Lawrence Welk and Ella Fitzgerald well before his rivals secured copies. He was a devoted fan of Broadway musicals.

He said that he liked to play "unforgettable music -- all the great songs. It's different because you can understand the lyrics. No sexual references here, no songs about cocaine."

But in a city where boombox rock and rap had come to dominate the airwaves, WGAY had become one of the last local stations broadcasting a mix of old and new standards that appealed to older listeners. After Mr. Gallaher retired as the host of WGAY's only live program, the station went completely automated, airing syndicated "Music of Your Life" programming. Within three months, the station's New York-based corporate owner, Clear Channel, ditched the nostalgic music format and converted to business broadcasting. The call letters were changed to WWRC.

A former radio announcer in Oklahoma and a newscaster, disc jockey and baseball play-by-play announcer in Minnesota, Mr. Gallaher began at WTOP in 1946 doing the night show. The next year, he was picked as a morning replacement for the legendary Arthur Godfrey, who was moving to New York to do a national CBS program. Mr. Gallaher retained some of the Godfrey format, interviewing celebrities who were passing through town, in addition to playing music. For a time, he hosted both the morning "Sundial" program and nighttime "Moondial" show.

"When stars would come to town -- Jayne Mansfield, Bob Hope, I don't care who it was -- they would line up to be interviewed by Eddie Gallaher," Associated Press Radio anchor Ross Simpson told an Associated Press interviewer. His smooth delivery also made him popular with advertisers.

"When he sold food, you salivated," said Willard Scott, weatherman on NBC's "Today" show. Scott and partner Ed Walker hosted the "Joy Boys," a rival morning program that ran on WRC-AM in Washington from 1955 to 1972.

After WTOP went all-news in 1968, Mr. Gallaher tried that format for a couple of months, then took his morning show to WASH. He moved to WWDC-AM, which later became WGAY, in 1982. His programs in the final years were co-hosted by the station's music director, Bob Duckman.

Mr. Gallaher was born in the District and raised in Tulsa, where he attended the University of Tulsa. He served in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II. His only marriage, to Mary Gallaher, ended in divorce during that period.

He was a founding member of the Washington Quarter-Century Broadcasters and a devoted and talented golfer, having started in his youth as an assistant golf pro. His honors included a Lifetime Achievement in Radio Award, sponsored by the March of Dimes.

He leaves no immediate survivors.

Eddie Gallaher, who was on local airwaves for 53 years, was called a tonic for those "tired of screaming, cursing" deejays.