Larry Lujack was 73 in when he died at home in New Mexico (to esophageal cancer). He’d been retired from radio for some time. His on-air style was sarcastic, grumpy and humor infectious (which led to a long run in the country’s third largest radio market), setting an undeniable mark for others. It’s been reported other well knowns, like David Lettermen and Rush Limbaugh, were among those who adopted Lujack’s style.
Most folks who listened to Seattle radio in the 60’s know Uncle Lar jump-started his career at KJR. Although only at Channel 95 two and-a-half years, Lujack helped propel KJR to the pop music institution nobody could ignore. He was part of a talented lineup that included Lan Roberts, Pat O’Day, Lee Perkins, Dick Curtis, Tom Murphy and Jerry Kay, to name the more notables. That was from the spring of ’64 through the fall of ’66. Lujack was a classic example of what KJR wanted: a personality that touched the human mystique. Lujack poked fun at things listeners identified with but didn’t expect to hear on the radio.
This July ’66 aircheck is a great example — Lujack being himself. It runs about 8:35, and includes snippets of Dick Curtis, Lan Roberts and finally Jim Martin, doing sports and news of the day.
Audio > Here 8:35
KJR Fabulous Fifty in Seattle P-I, July 22, 1966
(as mentioned in Lujack audio aircheck above)
Oft-times Lujack’s on-air performance seemed loose and disorganized — exactly what Bill Drake and other radio programming gurus said could not produce number 1 ratings. But KJR, with its delivery of personalities, proved ’em wrong in Seattle.
It can be argued Lujack became one of the more famous to make the big time after a Seattle experience. His career track started in small-town Idaho, then Spokane, then KJR. After a brief move to Boston, he landed in Chicago (early ’67) where he worked for nearly 25 years. While in the Windy City, Lujack jockeyed for nearly 20 years between big-time rockers WLS and WCFL. It’s reported he signed a 12-year $6 million contract with WLS — said to be the most lucrative in radio at that time. WLS and WCFL went to great financial lengths to prevent “Lujack raiding,” including (1976) each buying out part of the competition’s unexpired Lujack contract and (1987) WLS agreeing to five-year post-employment contract payouts.
On those occasions when I heard Uncle Lar in both Chicago and Seattle, his voice always seemed synonymous with KJR.