by Tracy Johnson
I was sorry to hear that Larry Lujack, one of the all-time great air personalities, passed away. His book Superjock was a big influence in my early radio career. By the way, you can get an autographed copy of the book for $373 on Amazon!
Larry was legendary on WLS/Chicago, for many reasons, but what stood out to me was his ability to perform with such a personal, one-to-one style. It’s a great example for solo shows. You don’t have to have a large cast of characters to generate great engagement. Yes, Lujack had some performers around him, but the show was almost all him.
Air personalities can still learn how to be a personality without a cast of partners and sidekicks. He carried on a conversation with the audience, relating one-to-one.
Larry was most famous for his benchmark feature, Animal Stories. The daily feature was uniquely his, showcasing his ability to tell stories effectively.
Here’s an example:
This is a great example of turning common human interest stories available everywhere into a feature that became a memorable benchmark. It was such a popular feature, you can still buy all FOUR VOLUMES of CD’s on Amazon. 35 years later. That’s impact.
Here’s a longer air check of vintage Lujack from the early 70s.
Pay particular attention to a segment about 11 minutes in. Just before the top of the hour, Larry teases an upcoming newscast, building interest in each story coming up. The news is part of the show, part of the entertainment, and he makes it more interesting with compelling angles to the content.
Then, a few minutes later, he introduces a new song by a new artist (Olivia Newton-John). Listen to how he owns it. He makes the song sound larger than life. Great showmanship.
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