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The WLS 'Animal Stories' News Team Reunite For PSAs

Chicago radio legends Larry Lujack and Tommy Edwards have reunited once again, but this time its not for radio ratings, but instead for a good cause. The duo were recruited by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to record seven radio public service announcements (PSAs), with the intention of reminding Illinois residents about emergency preparedness for their home's pets.

The IEMA released a statement this morning announcing the new PSA campaign, which will begin airing this month on over 200 Illinois radio stations. The PSAs are made up of three 30 second spots and four 60 second spots. All of the spots were made to sound similar to the classic "Animal Stories" segments that "Good ol' Uncle Lar'" amd "Lil' Tommy" used to do regularly on WLS-AM. Each one begins with the segments' trademark wolf howl and has Lujack & Edwards bantering back & forth. Only instead of telling funny news stories about animal mishaps, the PSAs will be humorous, but informative spots about helping prepare one's pets for the case of an emergency evacuation.

Jonathon Monken, IEMA Director, said in this morning's announcement: "These radio spots are really fun and will help us catch the listener's ear with our message about pet preparedness. Pets are an integral part of many families and shouldn't be forgotten when developing a complete family preparedness plan."

The new radio public awareness campaign of the IEMA is being done in cooperation with the Illinois Broadcasters Association (IBA) Public Education Partnership (PEP) program. IEMA's partnership with the IBA's PEP also features radio spots recorded by actress Marion Ross of famed classic television sitcom "Happy Days" fame, as well as TV spots written and/or produced by Illinois high school and college students.

However, it is the new spots with the "Animal Stories News Team" that has so many excited today.

Dennis Lyle, President and CEO of the IBA, worked directly with IEMA, Lujack, and Edwards in the development of these fun PSAs. In a statement this morning, Lyle said: "There's no doubt about it, emergency preparedness, including pet safety, is not a subject to be taken lightly. 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."

The "Animal Stories" stories vignettes on WLS-AM became famous in Chicago in the later 1970s. Lujack, the morning show host, would occasionally read funny animal-related news items on the air. Eventually, he began bringing into the studio Tommy Edwards, the then-former program director who became midday host, while reading the animal stories. Edwards' infectious laugh and joy at the bits, along with his natural on-air chemistry with Lujack, made the segments that much more lovable for the listeners. "Animal Stories" became must-hear radio for Chicagoans from the late 70s and well into the 80s.

Larry "Superjock" Lujack, was a star on Chicago radio from 1967 through 1987, working on WCFL-AM, WLS-AM, and WLS-FM. He made a brief return in 2000 on WUBT-FM and again in 2003-2006 on the short-lived oldies format on WRLL-AM. He has been inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and the Illinois Broadcasters Association's Hall of Fame. Lujack is happily retired and living with his wife in Santa Fe, NM.

Said Larry Lujack today: "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."

Tommy Edwards continues to stay busy and have his famous voice heard. He is currently the "interim" midday host on WJMK-FM/104.3 K-Hits (although that "interim" tag is expected to be coming off later this month), and is the longtime public address announcer for the Chicago Bulls. Edwards has been a Chicago radio fixture, both behind a microphone and behind the scenes, since 1972. He has been part of WLS-AM, WJMK-FM (twice), WRLL-AM, WILV-FM, and WLS-FM.

Lujack and Edwards remain good friends and speak to each other almost weekly. (The communication each week is by phone, since Lujack is very anti-computer. He's still trying to figure out how to operate a fax machine.) Edwards, with Lujack's full permission and passive involvement, operates a website that sell "best of" CDs of their classic Animal Stories bits. That can be found at AnimalStoriesCD.com.

Said Edwards today regarding the PSAs: "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."

Here now are all seven of the IEMA PSAa produced by "Uncle Lar' and Lil' snot-nosed Tommy," which hit the Illinois airwaves this month. (Audio clips courtesy of Ready.Illinois.Gov.)

#1 Emergency Plan


#2 Pet Iguana


#3 Pet Evacuation Plan


#4 Common Sense


#5 Pet Supply Kit


#6 Some Day


#7 Stop Procrastinating



Tommy Edwards and Larry Lujack


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