First, I have to acknowledge that I got “Best of the Holidailies” for my second Ray Price blog this week. Thank you! That was nice. I didn’t even know I was in a competition, I will try harder now (…ha, maybe).
And I don’t want my blog to be just obituaries (well, that would be AWESOME, but I like writing about other things, too), but Larry Lujack died today. Maybe he’s not know to most of the world, but he was the “Superjock,” the legendary morning man on WLS/Chicago during the heyday of radio when I was a guppy dj wanting to be big time.
This made me think about DJ’s in general. When I was just getting into the world of radio in 1978 and 1979, we would hear about these amazing DJ’s in far-off places like Chicago and San Francisco and LA and Miami. Larry Lujack, John “Records” Landecker, the Greaseman, Dr. Don Rose, Howard Stern, Don Imus, and on and on. If we were lucky, someone would have a cassette tape that was a tape of a tape of a tape that someone had had of some of their best bits. Or maybe it was just a tape of one random morning that a jock taped when he was visiting their town. We would listen in awe to these guys. I still think of bits that I heard on those cassettes (remind me to tell you about Dr. Don’s ‘No, just kiss me’ bit some time).
I recently compiled several big boxes of reel-to-reel tapes and cassettes that I have been hauling around from house to house for 30 years. I would like to get rid of them, but I have to listen to them again and see what I have. A lot of them are these airchecks that I gathered from various places.
We would listen and discuss the airchecks and we all got better in the process. You wouldn’t just listen and laugh, you listened and absorbed and tried variations of their bits. No one in our market had heard these brilliant bits so we could rip them off without worry and try them on the all-night show where no one would hear it if we messed up the punch line or the sound effects. It was on-the-job training of the best kind.
Now, if you want to hear the best DJ in America in real time while they are on the air, their station is streaming and you can hear it. If you can’t listen while they are on the air, their station probably puts their best bits on their website somewhere. Or someone may be a collector and puts their bits on the air. There are full websites dedicated to the old airchecks, too. If you want to hear Larry Lujack in his prime or more recently, you can dial it up in seconds and listen. There are also youtube videos of these jocks working their shows or doing commercials or demonstrating how it is done. The sad thing is… there are so few jocks to teach anymore. It may be an exaggeration, but there aren’t the hundreds of kids clamoring to be rock jocks because the glamour of the rock jock is gone – it seems. No kid is working the all-night shift in Amarillo and trying out accents and bits and elaborate raps in an effort to get to move up to 7 to midnight.
One reason I always liked Larry Lujack was that he was himself on the air. He read stories and had bits and conversations, but he didn’t have characters or accents (or if he did, I don’t remember them). He was just himself and being my own self was something that I thought I could be better than I could act. That’s the only kind of DJ I ever was and Superjock Lujack was a great example to me.