On the Air With Lar

WELCOME BACK TO THE SAMPLING OF EXCERPTS FROM MY BOOK “RAISED ON THE RADIO” WHICH I WILL BE RELEASING LATER THIS YEAR.

We pick up on some of the days of me working as Larry Lujack’s producer at WLS. I was learning plenty every day. Our daily on air conversations and banter were part of my big city radio education.

 Knowing how to interact with Larry was a skill I kept honing. He was not an easy laugh so I had to be clever as possible with my comments. One time during the Cheap Trashy Show-biz Report Larry was talking about a TV movie that was being made about Frank Sinatra based on Kitty Kelley’s explosive tell-all book “His Way.” This is a book we had discussed on the air in the past. Now I remembered Larry’s favorite anecdote from the book. So he says “I hope they include that scene where..” and I start snickering, and he goes on “And Mick read my mind. I want to see the time where Frank Sinatra eats scrambled eggs off a hooker’s bare chest. (He laughs) I’m just picturing Frank with the hooker, scarfing down breakfast.”

Then I said “Yeah, I can see the credits at the end of the movie, ‘Hooker with eggs on chest played by…” Larry laughed hard and said “Played by Charlene Tilton who’s desperate for work!”

 

 (Kitty Kelley’s tell all book on Frank Sinatra)

 The 1986 Holiday season featured the annual Christmas tree lighting in downtown Chicago. Larry and Jeff Hendrix were on site, broadcasting live from the WLS mobile studio which was a large RV camper while I was in the air studio.

So they have the countdown, someone throws a switch and the tree’s lights go up. Larry says the tree looks great and then we hear a live orchestra starting to play the theme from “2001 A Space Odyssey.” (Most folks at that time knew that was the song Elvis Presley used as his entrance music during live concerts as he took the stage) As it becomes obvious what song is being played, Larry yells out, “When did THAT become a Christmas tune?” Waiting just a second or two, I opened my microphone and asked “Where’s Elvis?” Well that busted up Larry, Jeff and the rest of the remote crew. Jeff blurted out “He’s at the top of the tree!” Then Larry followed with typical sarcasm, “Yeah, they got a life sized statue of the king at the top of the tree.”

 

 (Larry Lujack on the air doing his thing)

One more bit of banter to share. At the end of a show, Larry and Jeff were wrapping things up all set to say good night and thanks for listening, while I’m on the phone.

Larry: “John Landecker is next, giving away… aerobic fitness packs.”

Me: “Those are nice.”

Larry: “What do they consist of?”

Me: (quick reply) “I have no idea.”

Larrry starts to chuckle and then I take it further.

Me: “I just thought I’d throw in a little false enthusiasm to end of the show.”

Well Larry is loving this honesty and says between laughs, “That’s what’s needed here. In fact, that’s a prerequisite for the job! Phony enthusiasm! (He continues to laugh) and sometimes it’s tough, but Mick being the pro that he is managed to come up with some at the end of the show.”

I have tapes of some of these on air chats but I don’t even have to listen back to them.  These laughs are ingrained in my head forever.

 

Remembering Glenn Frey

Today (1/18/18) marks the second anniversary of the passing of Glenn Frey, co-founder of the Eagles. Glenn’s health problems in late 2015 delayed the band from being feted at that year’s Kennedy Center Honors. Still, news of his death was a big shock. Below is an excerpt from my coming book “Raised on the Radio” where I recall Frey’s in studio visit to the Murphy in the Morning show at Q-101 and a little more.  

Glenn Frey came to the station when in town to play in a charity golf outing and promote his “Strange Weather” album. I grew up on Eagles music and was cautiously eager to meet him. I knew of all the strife within the band before they stopped working together in 1980 and wasn’t sure how he’d be with us. In the past, the Eagles were very leery of and hesitant to talk to the media. It turns out Glenn was an excellent guest with us. Maybe no longer being in the Eagles put him in a good mood. One caller even asked about the intestinal health struggles Frey dealt with and he openly talked about those problems.

Me & Glenn Frey at Q-101 (Circa 1992)

One thing I noticed was the cadence in which Glenn Frey spoke during his interview with Murphy. He was precise and deliberate in his conversation but in an engaging way. I tend to talk in a similar manner so I identified with and liked the former Eagle from the start.

When it came time to record a couple of promos for the show, he carefully looked over my typed up lines in the production room. I asked if there were any problems and was told no, it was good copy. He was just measuring everything out to make sure he gave good reads.   So yes, I’ve recorded in a studio with an Eagle.

Months after visiting us at Q-101, I saw Glenn Frey play a concert at the Vic Theater. He did his solo hits and Eagles classics. Backstage after the show, again he was affable and a pleasure to spend a few minutes with. I also made points with my date as Glenn gladly took pictures and signed an autograph for her.

Backstage with Glenn at the Vic Theater

Those intestinal problems Glenn Frey was so open to discuss on the air ended up being part of what ended his life. Adding to that was rheumatoid arthritis and pneumonia and all that took him at the way too young age of sixty-seven. A number of celebrities I met over the years have since died but Glenn’s passing was a tough one to take in. He was great with me in 1992 and I was thrilled to have seen the Eagles in concert a few years later.

I also admired Glenn Frey’s solo music. From the Chuck Berry styled rock and roll of “Party Town” (a song that never got its proper due) to the sax and horns Memphis sound of “The One You Love” and “True Love.” The acting he did in “Wiseguy” and “Miami Vice” along with soundtrack work for those shows was aces too. I also enjoyed his role as the tough negotiating Arizona Cardinals general manager in “Jerry Maguire.”

Over the years the Eagles have had their share of detractors; many citing Frey and Don Henley for being difficult and greedy rock stars. Still, I choose to look past those stories and appreciate the music they brought us. Glenn’s hassles within the band be damned, he was first rate in my book and always will be. Rest in peace, Glenn Lewis Frey.