Fans, former colleagues remember 'Superjock' Larry Lujack
December 19, 2013 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- His sarcasm and grumpy demeanor made him a radio legend in Chicago for decades. Superjock, Lawrence of Chicago, Uncle Lar: if you were a fan of Chicago radio from the late 1960s to the 80s, then you listened to Larry Lujack.
He passed away from esophageal cancer at the age of 73 in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Wednesday night.
When he hit the Chicago airwaves, rock and roll radio was never the same.
That voice, that sarcastic delivery, the razor sharp wit. During the classic age of rock and roll radio, Larry Lujack was king.
"If WLS was the rock of Chicago, he was the rock of WLS," said Bruce Dumont, Museum of Broadcast History.
Larry began his career out west, but when this cowboy came to Chicago and landed at both WCFL and the BIG 89-WLS, that's when his legendary status was sealed. In 1984, Lujack signed a 12-year, $6 million contract with WLS, unprecedented in radio at the time.
"He opened the door for radio personalities in rock n' roll to be something else other than your 'typical DJ,'" said John "Records" Landecker, WLS Radio DJ.
Lujack's long career at WLS had him team up with DJ Tommy Edwards or Lil Tommy, and their Animal Stories is still a big part of anyone's radio memories.
Lujack tried retiring in 1987 after a son was killed in a tragic accident. He moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he eventually began broadcasting a show back to Chicago. In 2007, WLS brought together many of its former superstars for a BIG 89 Rewind event and I had the opportunity to catch up with Lujack.
"I did that rock 'n' roll radio stuff for 30 years, and I got so burned out when I left that I just couldn't' do it anymore. But now, I'm getting burnt out on retirement," said Lujack.
"Maybe he, and St. Peter and a couple of angels are listening to his Animal Stories," said Dick Biondi, WLS Radio DJ.
According to Lujack's wife, he did not want any memorial services and instead, wanted his body donated for research. Lujack died in New Mexico after a yearlong battle with esophageal cancer.
"I think it's a feather in the cap for Chicago we've had a lot of people come out of Chicago, in movies, plays radios. For sure as a teenager I listened to all of them. Larry was great, so were guys like Dick Biondi," said listener Bob Shipyor.
"I remember Larry and Uncle Tommy, and I was in high school when he was on WCFL. He was a legend," said Tom Winter, listener.
Some called into WLS-AM Thursday with their own Larry Lujack stories:
"I was a senior in high school," said one called. "It was the senior prom, 1973, and Lujack was the guest. He got up there and in Larry Lujack fashion said, 'Look, I don't like you kids, I'm only here because they paid me.'"
Early next year, the Museum of Broadcast Communications is planning a memorial to the Radio Hall of Fame member and pioneer.
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