Larry Lujack, who nearly half a century ago replaced the unctuous ooze that defined his calling with a crusty cantankerousness that influenced present-day radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern, died Dec. 18 at his home in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 73.
The cause was esophageal cancer, his wife, Judith, told The Associated Press.
Before Lujack hit the Chicago airwaves in 1967, Top 40 DJs were known for rapid-fire patter, velvet sonorities and inexhaustible cheer. Lujack was laconic, sandpapery and curmudgeonly - and, to judge from the 1 million listeners he garnered at his height, delightfully so. Frequent targets of his opprobrium included the very albums he was playing, the very stations he was working for and various rival DJs.
David Letterman acknowledged Lujack as an influence. So did Limbaugh, who said in 1990 that Lujack was the only person I ever copied.
Larry Lee Blankenburg was born in 1940 in Quasqueton, Iowa, and reared in Caldwell. At 18 he joined KCID-AM in Caldwell, adopting the surname of his idol, Chicago Bears quarterback Johnny Lujack. He joined Chicagos WCFL in 1967 and worked there and at Chicagos WLS for the next two decades. WLS in 1984 gave him a 12-year, $6 million contract that was later bought out.
Lujack retired to Santa Fe. Lujacks marriage to his first wife, Gina, ended in divorce; a son from that marriage, John, died in 1986. His survivors, AP reported, include his second wife, the former Judith Seguin; two children from his first marriage, Anthony Lujack and Linda Lujack-Shirley; a stepson, Taber Seguin; and two grandchildren.