Lujack at WCFL in 1974.
|Born||Larry Lee Blankenburg
June 6, 1940
Quasqueton, Iowa, U.S.
|Died||December 18, 2013 (aged 73)
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
|Cause of death||Esophageal cancer|
|Other names||Superjock, Lawrence of Chicago, Uncle Lar, King of the Corn Belt|
|Alma mater||College of Idaho
Washington State University
|Occupation||Radio host, disc jockey|
(m. c.1972–2013; his death)
|Awards||Illinois Broadcasters Association's Hall of Fame (2002)
National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame (2008)
Larry Lujack (June 6, 1940 – December 18, 2013) was a Top 40 Music radio disc jockey who was well known for his world-weary sarcastic style. "Klunk Letter of the Day", the darkly humorous "Animal Stories" with sidekick "Little Tommy," and the "Cheap Trashy Show Biz Report" were some of his more popular bits. He was also referred to as Superjock, Lawrence of Chicago, Uncle Lar, and King of the Corn Belt.
Lujack initially came to Chicago to work for WCFL-AM. He spent a few months there before being hired at WLS. While at WCFL, Lujack drew the air studio curtains during public visiting hours.
"Animal Stories" came about because WLS was still receiving farm magazines long after they went into Rock and Roll in 1960. Lujack started reading some of them and began airing stories from them instead of reading the grain reports connected with the Farm Report. When the Farm Report was officially discontinued, the feature became Animal Stories. A perfectionist about his work, Lujack would review every word he said on the air after each broadcast by listening to an audio cassette "skimmer" tape which would record only when the microphone was open.
Lujack initially retired in 1987, shortly after his son John from his first marriage died in an accident. In 1997, Lujack moved from Palatine to the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico and, in May 2000, began working again for then-WUBT in Chicago, via a remote ISDN link from a New Mexico recording studio, teaming up with Matt McCann who was based in the Chicago studio. The ratings for the show out-paced the rest of the radio station. In 2003, he re-teamed with his Animal Stories partner, Tommy Edwards ("Little Tommy"), on WRLL (1690 AM) in Chicago, to broadcast his signature features on weekday mornings. On August 16, 2006, Lujack was terminated along with the entire WRLL on-air staff as it was announced that the station's "Real Oldies" format would cease on September 17, 2006. The broadcast duo were on the air once again as part of the WLS "The Big 89 Rewind" on Memorial Day, 2007 and 2008 where the station returned to its "MusicRadio" programming, featuring many of the former WLS personalities and special guests, other DJs, etc.
Lujack was inducted into the Illinois Broadcasters Association's Hall of Fame in June 2002 and the National Radio Hall of Fame on November 6, 2004. On April 15, 2008, Larry Lujack was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame during their annual convention in Las Vegas.
Born in Quasqueton, Iowa and raised in Arkansas, as Larry Lee Blankenburg, he later changed his last name to that of his football idol, Johnny Lujack. He attended the College of Idaho (in Caldwell) and Washington State University and was a radio disc jockey, starting in 1958, at KCID in Caldwell. His entry into radio came when he was a biology major at College of Idaho and at the time was a matter of finances; he was looking for a part-time job. He originally intended to go into wildlife conservation. He subsequently worked at several other radio stations, including KJR (AM) in Seattle, but is best known for his antics on Chicago AM radio stations WLS and WCFL. He can be heard on WLS at the beginning of the 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Away from the job, he was an enthusiast about golf. After triple heart bypass surgery in 1991, Lujack marked his calendar for the date his doctor told him he could return to the sport. Not just a "fair weather" golfer, Lujack suited up in winter gear and snowshoes to play Chicago area golf courses in winter. He played a full 18 holes at Buffalo Grove on January 23, 1985; the temperature was 27 degrees below zero with a windchill of -75 degrees. Lujack collapsed afterward.
Lujack died December 18, 2013 at a Santa Fe, New Mexico hospice after a year-long struggle with esophageal cancer. He is survived by his second wife of 41 years, Judith (née Seguin); a son, Anthony Lujack; a daughter Linda Lujack-Shirley, two grandchildren and a stepson, Taber Seguin.
|KFXM 590||San Bernardino||CA||1963|
|KJRB* 790||Spokane||WA||1962 – 1963||evenings|
|KJR (AM) 950||Seattle||WA||April 1964 – September 1966|
|WMEX 1510||Boston||MA||September 1966 – December 1966||as Johnny Lujack|
|WCFL 1000||Chicago||IL||1967||four months; all-nights|
|WLS (AM) 890||Chicago||IL||August 1967 – July 1972||afternoons, then mornings|
|WCFL 1000||Chicago||IL||July 3, 1972 – March 16, 1976||afternoons ^|
|WLS (AM) 890
|Chicago||IL||September 16, 1976 – August 28, 1987||mornings; then in 1985, afternoons**|
|WUBT 103.5||Chicago||IL||May 25, 2000 – January 10, 2001|
|WRLL 1690||Chicago||IL||September 8, 2003 – August 15, 2006|
* KNEW and KJRB refer to the same radio station.
^ After WCFL switched to "Beautiful Music" in 1976, Lujack remained on staff, as he had a high-paying contract. When WLS made him an offer to return to work there, the two stations each paid half of Lujack's remaining WCFL contract.
** WLS continued to pay Lujack for five years after his 1987 departure to keep him from competing with them in markets where ABC had local radio outlets.
- Lujack, Larry; Jedlicka, Daniel A. (1975). Superjock: the loud, frantic, nonstop world of a rock radio DJ. Chicago: H. Regnery Co. ISBN 978-0-8092-8302-6. OCLC 1500182.
- Lujack, Larry; Edwards, Tommy (2007). Uncle Lar' & Li'l Tommy's best of animal stories. Lake Forest, IL: Animal Stories. OCLC 232150780.
- audio file-Reel Radio-Klunk Letter of the Day Composite-WCFL
- Background on "Animal Stories", Lujack and Edwards
- audio file-Reel Radio Lujack WLS-AM aircheck-March 1983-includes an "Animal Stories" piece
- Bridges, Les (March 4, 1979). Larry Lujack, Permanent Fave (PDF). Chicago Tribune. pp. 39, 41, 54. Retrieved March 9, 2014.(PDF)
- 1985 Larry Lujack Interview at the Wayback Machine (archived August 16, 2003)
- audio file-Lujack's own words about how Animal Stories began
- audio file-Lujack's Farewell-WLS-AM-August 28, 1987
- Copy of "Last Day" WLS memo from Lujack to the staff
- HighBeam-from Chicago Sun Times May 29, 1986-Larry Lujack's son John, 22, dies in fall from motel roof. (Boise)
- Encyclopedia.com-from Chicago Sun Times June 3, 1986-Larry Lujack bids dead son farewell. (on air at WLS-AM)
- "Canyon Hill Cemetery-Caldwell, Canyon Co., Idaho-Lujack, John S 1963-1986". RootsWeb.
- Video of Big 89 Rewind-2007 on YouTube
- Video of WLS Rewind 2008 on YouTube
- "Hall of Fame Award". Illinois Broadcasters Association. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-11.
- "Larry Lujack, Disc Jockey". Radio Hall of Fame. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-11.
- National Association of Broadcasters Press Release-Larry Lujack to be Inducted into NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame
- Billboard August 29, 1981-DJs Offer Insight About Work, Radio page 23
- Fox, Margalit (December 23, 2013). "Larry Lujack, a Cranky Radio Voice That Carried, Dies at 73". The New York Times.
- Shannon, Bob, ed. (2009), Turn It Up! American Radio Tales 1946-1996, Austrianmonk publishing, pp. 214–220, ISBN 1-61584-545-3, retrieved 2010-04-11
- audio file-Reel Radio-Larry Lujack aircheck-KJR-July 1966
- Mr/ Pop History-Week of July 13, 1972-Larry Lujack joins WCFL-page 4
- Manchir, Michelle; Channick, Robert (2013-12-18). "Larry Lujack, legendary Chicago DJ, dies". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-12-18.
- Hanley, Reed (December 11, 1991). "Chicago:Winter Golf Hotbed". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
- Hoekstra, Dave (December 18, 2013). "Legendary 'Superjock' Larry Lujack dies at 73". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
- "Famed Chicago radio host Larry Lujack dies at 73". San Francisco Chronicle. 2013-12-19. Retrieved 2013-12-19.
- audio file Reel Radio-Larry Lujack aircheck KNEW-July 1963
- Spokane radio-history of KPEG
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Larry Lujack.|
- Larry Lujack at the National Radio Hall of Fame
- Scott Childers' The History of WLS Radio The Rock of Chicago, the 1980s. Read about Lujack in the context of WLS history.
- Audio of Larry Lujack and the end of Rock on WCFL-March 15, 1976 on YouTube
- audio file-Reel Radio "The Legendary Lujack" Composite
- Video of WLS-AM "Animal Stories" Promo featuring Lujack and Edwards on YouTube
- audio file of Lujack's first day on the job at WLS-1967
- Real Oldies 1690 AM WRLL. Through Sept. 17, 2006, hear an automated version of the station where Lujack and Tommy Edwards (Little Tommy of Animal Stories) hosted mornings from October 2003 through August 15, 2006.