Every morning at 6:55, they played a hymn on the radio, and at 7:25, they broadcast a good old march. If someone in the Washington, D.C., area lost a pet, they’d announce it on the air. From 1960 to 1992, Frank Harden and Jackson Weaver ran the most popular program in a gentler and more polite Washington.
Harden, who died June 15 at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, while watching a movie with his wife, was the straight man to Weaver in a 32-year morning routine that was as vital to Washington’s identity in that era as the Redskins, the Beltway and the green-and-white awnings on so many D.C. row houses. He was 95.
His son, Robert Harden, confirmed the death but did not cite a specific cause.
Using an approach they dubbed “dynamic inaction,” Harden and Weaver reeled off a four-hour roll call of news headlines, weather and traffic reports, a bit of middle-of-the-road music, some spoofing of the commercials and visits with a roster of made-up characters, including a nameless lady with a high-pitched voice whom they introduced as being “informed on nothing and has opinions on everything.”
Their goal was to appeal as broadly as possible to an audience that they believed was more drawn to amiable companionship than to the agitation of polarized politics or the thrill of breaking taboos. “We’re not in the business of alienating people,” Harden wrote in 1983.
The 25th anniversary of “The Harden and Weaver Show” was celebrated at the Kennedy Center.
“The focus today seems to be controversy,” Harden said in a podcast interview last year. “I think the most controversial thing ‘Harden and Weaver’ ever said was, ‘Good morning!’ ”
Harden, born in Macon, Georgia, on Oct. 28, 1922, teamed up with Weaver in the late 1950s to do a program of light comedy sketches on the ABC radio network. They moved their show to WMAL-TV and then to the morning radio slot in 1960. After Weaver died in 1992, Harden continued the morning show with Tim Brant and Andy Parks until 1998.