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June 6, 1940 – Dec. 18, 2013

Larry Lujack, a Chicago disc jockey 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. (Lujack once stormed a competitor’s show and threatened, on the air, to ram the man’s head through a wall.)

Lujack’s style, which also included strategic pauses, audible paper-shuffling and grandiloquent references to himself in the third person, demonstrably shaped that of Limbaugh, who in 1990 told The New York Times Magazine that Lujack was “the only person I ever copied.”

– New York Times