Google Larry Lujack and you’ll get roughly 73,000 results.
His passing December 18th generated an outpouring of accolades from listeners and co-workers alike.
I asked Country Aircheck Publisher/CEO Lon Helton about growing up listening to Larry and later working in the same market with him when Lon was at Chicago’s WMAQ.
“He was just so compelling .... you were afraid you'd miss something if you didn't listen. People today talk about being 'real' on the radio like it's something new that they have invented. Lujack was as real as it got ... often in full blown curmudgeonry. You had the sense he'd say anything he wanted to on the air ... and you just didn't want to miss it.”
Echoing Lon’s words, many of the tribute pieces cite Larry’s uniqueness, having a point of view (often sarcastic), being himself, and relating to ‘everyman.’
In his blog Chicago media expert Robert Feder’s called Larry, “real, relatable and unlike anything (listeners had) ever heard on the radio before.”
There are plenty of references to his kindness off the air as well.
But “real” seems to be one of the most oft-use descriptor of his on air performance.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to hear Larry Lujack on a regular basis. But I did grow up listening to the great talent in New York City (you don’t have to live in a big city to hear great talent) and later got to be part of teams that included radio giants Dan Daniel, Jim Kerr, Cousin Brucie and Scott Carpenter.
They too share the trait of being real and being interesting. They have a point of view, a sense of humor, a deep understanding of who listened and why, an infectious love of what they did, and the ability to simply be themselves in a way that made spending time with them a daily ‘must.’
Their secret sauce: being real without being self-absorbed.
No one really wants to hang out in real life with Cecily Strong’s SNL character the Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party.
But we all want to be in the presence of the Larry Lujacks of the world.