Uncle Lar and Lil’ Tommy return for pet project

Yes, it’s true, boys and girls: Your Animal Stories news team anchormen are back.

The legendary Chicago radio duo of Larry Lujack and Tommy Edwards have reunited in a series of public awareness announcements reprising their Animal Stories partnership as Uncle Lar and Lil’ Tommy.

Starting next week, more than 200 radio stations throughout Illinois are expected to run the spots, which humorously highlight the importance of pet emergency preparedness. Sponsored by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the messages encourage listeners to visit the Ready Illinois website to learn more about pet preparedness.

“These radio spots are really fun and will help us catch the listener’s ear with our message about pet preparedness,” IEMA director Jonathon Monken said in announcing the campaign, which is airing in cooperation with the Illinois Broadcasters Association.

Lujack, the incomparable "Superjock" who retired from WLS-AM (890) in 1987 and lives in New Mexico, was inducted in the Radio Hall of Fame, the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Illinois Broadcasters Association’s Hall of Fame. He made a brief comeback with Edwards on the former Real Oldies 1690. Edwards hosts middays on CBS Radio classic hits WJMK-FM (104.3) and serves as Chicago Bulls stadium announcer.

“The fact that I would come out of retirement and take time out of my busy schedule of ‘hangin’ out at the golf course waiting to die’ to help IEMA and the Illinois Broadcasters Association in their efforts to ensure the safety of our furry, feathered and finny friends is certainly indicative of what a compassionate and humanitarian guy I am,” Lujack said in a statement.

Added Edwards: “It’s always a kick to work with Larry. We have such great chemistry and we agree this is something we wanted to do. Every family needs an emergency evacuation plan that includes important papers, food, water and all vital things they would need.  And that includes the family pet and pet supplies. Some people just don’t think about it.”

Animal Stories began in the early ’70s as an outgrowth of Lujack’s morning farm reports on WLS. “As time went on, the stories got zanier and Lujack asked [midday personality] Tommy Edwards to join him,” wrote Scott Childers in Chicago’s WLS Radio. “Their chemistry together made the feature laugh-out-loud funny and an instant hit.” WLS released a series of “best of” albums that raised more than $250,000 for charity.

Dennis Lyle, president and CEO of the Illinois Broadcasters Association, coordinated development of the spots with Lujack and Edwards. “There’s no doubt about it, emergency preparedness, including pet safety, is not a subject to be taken lightly,” Lyle said in a statement. “But we’ve learned that sometimes taking a lighthearted approach to a subject as serious as disaster preparedness takes the ‘chill’ off the cold, hard fact that disaster preparedness is a modern-day reality that we all have to address.”


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)