Wednesday 22 Oct 2014

Larry Lujack
Streeter Click

At 5 pm, on Monday, 15 March 1976, said, "Superjock," Larry Lujack, "WCFL, Chicago, would end its run as a rock 'n' roll radio force." For two hours, between 5 pm and 7 pm, WCFL would play "ocean sounds." At 7 pm, the format would become "music to make love by." "The Superjock would continue to be heard on WCFL," said Lujack. Not for long, as it turned out.

Click here to listen to a scoped version of the last three hours of WCFL-AM, Chicago, as a rock radio force, hosted by Sup, Larry Lujack. Understand, Lujack takes no prisoners, expect no political correctness. Lujack was second only to the "Real Don Steele" in pure rock radio entertainment.

On Tuesday, 16 March 1976, WLS-AM, Chicago, became the last rock radio station. Click here to see what WLS-AM had to offer. Yes, it's Larry Lujack.

As John Rook, the legendary programmer of both WCFL and WLS, in Chicago, said, "Sup made the best of his last three hours rocking and rolling on WCFL." He took every shot, he could, at the new format, short of giving reason to cancel his huge contact. He mocked. He cajoled. He ridiculed. The show hints at why David Letterman seems to Lujack-ish.

John Rook, in his autobiography, "Passing Thru," writes "Lujack was shy in person, but a lion on the air." Sup had a rebellious nature, writes Rook, but "Once he understood [he had] room to develop, he began to reach outside the format box, pushing the envelope but always aiming to entertain ... the entire family."

Part of being "one of the greats" is making a tough job look easy. Sup is no exception. He made it look so easy, writes Rook, "A [much] lesser disc jockey ... Jeff Christie, [once] challenged me to dump Lujack and hire [him]. I advised [Christie]," writes Rook, "that he would never make it as a disc jockey," and he didn't. "[Christie] would spend some time away from radio before taking advantage of an industry that ended the fairness doctrine and allowed talk show hosts to rant as they wanted." Jeff Christie is Rush Limbaugh.

Behind the dozen or so "Superjocks," there are a few mega-programmers. It's the vision, creativity and skill of the mega-programmers that superjocks put into practice. There'd be no superjocks if there were no mega-programmers. John Rook is one of those very few radio programmers worthy of the adjective, mega. Read his autobiography and know why.

Superjock: first show back at WLS

After a few months shepherding "music to make love by," Lujack can't take it "no more, no more, no more, no more," as the song lyric says, and he hits the road. The road leads him back to WLS, where he'd worked from 1967 to 1972, before jumping ship to join WCFL. This time it's AM Drive.

The WCFL signal was relatively weak, inconsistently bouncing northeast and northwest. WLS is easily heard from the Rocky Mountains to Bermuda, from the North West Territories to Panama. Sup didn't need the extra reach, but millions of listeners were glad he did. A fellow, in Ottawa, work up every morning to WLS.

Click here and Listen! to "Superjock," Larry Lujack doing his first AM Drive show back on WLS. It was Thursday 16 September 1976, five months and one day after WCFL went to a "music to make love by" format. Listen and know what was, what isn't, today, and what might be.

Trivia: Sup was born 6 June 1940, in Quasqueton, Iowa, and passed away 18 December 2013. His real name is Larry Blankenburg. Here's a poser: why pick "Lujack" as a radio name?

John Rook is likely the only programmer to ever beat himself in the ratings. After a blow out at WLS, Rook jumped to WCFL, where he grabbed the number one spot, from WLS, in the first rating, after the move. There are super jocks, as Lujack, and super programmers, as Rook.

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Both air checks are courtesy of Tom Konard, legendary radio historian and archivist.

Streeter Click is editor of GrubStreet.ca.

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