PASSINGS: Harry Birrell

Harry Birrell, 85, a radio reporter and news anchor whose deep bass voice was

for more than 30 years, died Saturday at his home in Thousand Oaks of complications from interstitial

lung disease

, said his son Walker.

Birrell joined KNX in 1968 and was a regular weekday anchor on the all-news station until 1993, when he retired. But he continued to file daily reports of Ventura County news from his home in Thousand Oaks until January 1999.

The Radio and Television News Assn. of Southern California recognized Birrell with multiple Golden Mike awards for excellence in local broadcast journalism.

He was born Henry Walker Birrell in Steubenville, Ohio, on March 5, 1928, and he was known throughout his life as Harry. He attended Miami University before beginning his radio career in Beaver Falls, Pa., in 1949. He crisscrossed the country working as a broadcaster before arriving at KNX, the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles.

"It had always been my ambition to be a newscaster," Birrell told The Times in 1975. "I used to listen to Morgan Beatty, one of the old-time news people [on NBC], and I suppose that convinced me.

"I have found my niche," Birrell said. "For me, this job is more than just reading the news. You're looking at cold copy much of the time, putting things together, and there are always people dropping off new material. But it never gets routine. You never come to work knowing what's going to happen from one minute to the next."

Times staff and wire reports