The tragic 1937 crash of the German dirigible Hindenburg was a part of broadcaster Herbert Morrison's life until the day he died, his widow and friends say.

Millions of radio listeners hung on Morrison's frantic description as the giant airship crashed and burned 52 years ago. Morrison died Tuesday at a nursing home after a long illness. He was 83."He was a quiet man and very unassuming," said his widow, Mary Jane Morrison. "But he was very proud that he was able to do that broadcast."

Morrison was a 31-year-old reporter for Chicago radio station WLS on May 6, 1937, when he described the explosion of the Hindenburg as it approached its landing in Lakehurst, N.J. Thirty-six of the 97 people aboard died.

As the only broadcaster at the scene, Morrison became the eyes and ears of the world. Listeners heard him choke back tears as he gave his account of the explosion, the fire and people falling from the sky.

"It's burst into flame. Yes, it's started. It's fire and it's crashing. It's crashing terrible. Oh my," Morrison screamed into his microphone as the dirigible, nearly three football fields long, exploded while easing toward its mooring. "Oh, the humanity! . . . All the passengers . . . I don't believe it!"

Morrison recalled the tragedy in a 1986 interview.

"We saw things falling out of the Hindenburg," he said. "We had only a few seconds to have it dawn on you that it was a tragedy. Some of the things falling out were people."