R.I.P. Larry Schreiner

Along with many of you, we were/are shocked and saddened at the news of Larry Schreiner’s death.  Too soon, too young, leaving us with years of memories.

For any of you who are new to Larry’s name, most of those who heard him during his years on WGN would probably agree that he was a singularly passionate, outspoken, sometimes hard-headed, devoted, dependable, driven, renowned expert in language mangling (“Schreinerisms”), product of Chicagoland’s streets, police departments, fire departments and broadcast media.

Additionally, in his private life, Larry was many things to many people: Father, gardener, car lover and … FRIEND.

Larry Schreiner

If we may, we’d like to share some stories about our friend.

During the many years we co-hosted overnights on WGN one of the things our producers knew was that, regardless of the guest or topic at hand, if Larry Schreiner called in he went on the air NOW.  Larry was one of our not-so-secret weapons.  If Larry called in, chances were good that the story he was calling about would be the one that was making the headlines for the rest of the day.

In spite of his reputation as a “no nonsense” newsman, Larry could have a wicked sense of humor.  During the early days of our WGN ride when Johnnie was still doing traffic reports during the Bob Collins show, one morning she outfitted Larry in “hooker garb,” including pantyhose (Oh, to have the audio of teaching Larry how to put on pantyhose) and high heels, as part of a surprise planned for Bob during one of his morning broadcasts from WGN’s Showcase Studio.  Bob was in mid-broadcast when, outside the window, he saw what looked like a streetwalking hooker followed by a large car pulling up to the curb on Michigan Ave.  It appeared as if the hooker and her “agent” were engaged in an argument that was escalating right in front of the Showcase Studio window.  It wasn’t until Bob tried to intervene over the studio intercom to the street that he realized he was the victim of a “gotcha” perpetrated by Larry Schreiner, newsman and future Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford (dressed as the pimp) and Johnnie.

Along with his work, which, in Larry’s world, really was a 24/7 gig, Larry’s other world revolved around his twin boys.  While doing traffic for Bob Collins, since Larry was already out on the street most mornings, Johnnie had the responsibility of being sure that the boys were awake and on time for school.  One morning, during a hostage situation that found Larry LITERALLY lying in a gutter protected only by the curb of the street, he still remembered to radio, breathlessly (And wasn’t he always!) “Call the boys!  Call the boys!  But, don’t tell them where I am.”

Steve was still in bad shape, on crutches and in a wheel chair, after a hip-breaking accident, in London.  When our flight back from the UK arrived in Chicago we were expecting to have a rather difficult time getting off the plane, through the airport and through U. S. Customs.  Instead, Larry arranged to have our plane met by U. S. Customs agents and an ambulance.

One of the things Larry should have learned early on was that “socializing” with friends from WGN could be hazardous to his health.  Along with the morning crew, we were at Great America with Larry.  His radios were quiet and he seemed to be enjoying himself … until he bent over writhing in pain.  For a moment we thought he was kidding but, no, that wasn’t Larry’s m.o. and it became obvious that his pain was getting worse.  It turned out that Larry was passing a kidney stone.  As an ambulance took him to the hospital, we followed driving Larry’s new Mercedes convertible.  If you knew Larry, you knew how much he loved his cars … so, to us, this was a HUGE responsibility.

There was also the day when, after venturing out on the “Yacht Lyle Dean” that Larry wound up with a broken knee, which briefly sidelined him for a while.

As a group we always found excuses to party on the radio and Larry, who had a direct line to some of the best bakeries in Chicagoland, supplied the cakes.  Larry was always looking for any excuse to spread cake and doughnut love.  He wouldn’t even come to the station to pick up his mail without bringing boxes of doughnuts.  We don’t think he ever passed a nurses station without dropping off a box of doughnuts.  That was Larry.

We could go on and on with stories, both public (And there were MANY that Larry broke on our show and others at WGN) and private, but we think you get the point.  THIS was a man who made a difference.  THIS was a man who, if you were lucky enough to have him as a friend, was a FRIEND.

THIS was a man who will be missed.

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32 Responses to R.I.P. Larry Schreiner

  1. Margaret says:

    I listened to him often on the radio. He will be missed.

  2. Warren says:

    He will be missed! Great guy. RIP.

  3. Reenie says:

    Thank you, Johnnie and Steve, for sharing your thoughts and memories of Larry. I listened to WGN around the clock and he wiill be very missed. There are not too many like him left.

  4. Larry Lea (Saint George High School class of 1959) says:

    A fond farewell to another one of our fellow Saint George High School class of 1961 alumni. We will certainly miss you Larry

  5. Karyl Bruketa says:

    Thanks for the stories about Larry Schreiner. I remember listening to his reports for years. You have some great memories of him, sorry to hear of his passing.

  6. Gayle says:

    This makes me so sad. RIP Mr. Schreiner.

  7. Pingback: Steve and Johnnie remember Larry Schreiner | WGN Radio – 720 AM

  8. Judy Kay says:

    Oh, you guys ! What a nice tribute to Larry. Many of us remember him. Isn’t it something for some of us who see the pictures and hear the sounds as we read your telling stories about him ! While I was reading, I remembered, and could almost see him dressed like a lady of the night… And you brought memories back with Larry and Bob. Those were so fun. And Bob played into him perfectly.

    I was thinking how WONDERFUL it is now to have so many coming back, and how WGN is soooo much better !

    But how sad it is to look back how many years have gone by !! I love listening to Roy and reading his blog. I miss Spike so much it hurts, so I relish his commercials, and I even heard someone asking if by chance YOU BOTH could come back and restore the night time. ! When I heard that, I thought to myself { I bet they have adjusted to this just fine and would have to really think before jumping back }.

    You know we love you and wish nothing more than God’s best for you. Just like Larry, and Bob and more…YOU BOTH contributed enormously with wonderful memories. I thank you for letting us know about Larry, and for this tribute and stories about him. Oh…and YES !! HE WAS ALWAYS BREATHLESS ! LOL! Like he just ran up the Sears Tower !

    Oh people…we have been blessed with all of them and this station. You all were and are a gift. All different, and all upstanding. HONORABLE…is the word. Thanks for the memories, Larry. Thanks for sharing them, Steve and Johnnie !

  9. Sharron Klopp says:

    Thanks for sharing your memories…I have always thought fondly of Larry and wondered what he was up to these days. He was great (and funny)

  10. Linda Sue says:

    Larry was one of those people whom I loved to hear on the air. I knew that every word out of his mouth was something I wanted to hear. There are people that are known as familiar strangers…people that you don’t know in person but they are part of your life. Larry was one of them. I miss him. But Steve & Johnnie, dear familiar strangers, you have written a glorious post that I think and hope that Larry would have appreciated. Good people are hard to find and the old WGN knew how to find them…and they usually ended up on LAD at one time or another.

  11. Carol says:

    Loved to hear Larry’s reports & antics. RIP to a good man. Would love to read more of your entertaining stories.

  12. Bonnie Bloom says:

    I always wondered what Larry was up to lately, and why he never was on WGN anymore. He was so entertaining to listen to, and like you said, when he spoke you knew to listen because something big was going on! I also loved listening to the banter between him, Johnnie and Bob. Condolences to his family, and Larry, thanks from so many of us for being a part of our memories of the “old” WGN.

  13. mark schroeder says:

    i remember that larry chased through traffic to a store where bob collin’s wife was to be there before the news broke about uncle bobby’s airplane crash.. we should be so lucky to have friends like this..

  14. Well spoken the word,as well written as always. A great tribute to a true friend

  15. william mildaus says:

    he made WGN!

  16. Wendy says:

    Thanks for posting about Larry. I missed his reporting when he retired. He was one of the “Good Guys”.

    Condolences to his family.

  17. Henry Bottando says:

    Morning, afternoon or late night I remember hearing Larry’s reports, I didn’t think He ever slept R.I.P. Larry Schreiner

  18. Liz Drabowsky says:

    I remember Larry also with such sorrow of his passing. He was the one during Bob Collin’s horrid tradgedy that went to Bob’s wife to be with her. He had a big heart and loyalty for all his WGN friends. God Bless him , his twin sons and family.

  19. DOROTHY2906 says:

    Thank you!

  20. Cathy Bautz says:

    I always enjoyed Larry so much, and just loved your wonderful stories about him, giving all of
    us a fabulous glimpse into who he was as a man! Thank you! Rest in peace, Larry.

  21. Mr. Schreiner, your example, in word and deed, will live on at my campfires. Thanks for having chosen to live so well, and here in the Heartland.

  22. LaNell Holycross says:

    This will really date me, but I remember the day’s of Larry on WGN with Marty McNeeley on the last nite news. Always loved to hear their reports, he will be missed!

  23. c.w. says:

    Larry Larry Larry, you filled many moments in my life, with your hilarious spontaneous antics, and made me smile from the bottom of my feet. As I reflect and ponder upon your sudden passing all I can see is this Huge grin in my face that your legacy has painted in all our lives. Larry Larry Larry You will never be gone, for I will always have your memorable moments engraved in my heart!!!.
    C.W.

  24. Marda LeBeau says:

    I knew him when I worked at ABC 7. He was audacious and funny. A total character and a really nice man.

  25. I miss the old days. Uncle Bobby, Bill Berg, Roy Leonard, Spike, and you guys. I’m 56 and grew up with WGN. It’s not the same and with the Cubs moving and all of the old gang gone. My sympathy to Mark and Matthew . They had one heck of a father. He’s now in heaven with all of the good ones.

  26. Barb M says:

    Thank you , Steve & Johnnie for the report of Larry’s death.
    I do remember hearing him when he covered so many street scenes of tragic accidents. He had a style all his own.
    I am sure many others will also be saddened to hear this.
    Still missing you on WGN overnight.

    • jack says:

      It is the Larry Shriners of the world and guys like you who made radio fun. It’s not just WGN that is missing what was special in radio it is missing on most of the stations. I’m glad we enjoyed the fun while it was there.

  27. Matthew Schreiner says:

    To all who posted: Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts about my father, and thank you Steve and Johnnie for your wonderful article. I forgot about those wake up calls, Johnnie, so I started laughing out loud when I read that! Dad would be very proud he touched so many people’s lives, and he would appreciate being missed so much. People like all of you are what made WGN more of a family than a radio station.

  28. dekerivers says:

    Everyone should have someone write so tenderly at the time of passing away–this was just beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Mark says:

    Steve & Johnnie,

    I attended the funeral at St. Eugenes this morning for OUR friend Larry Schreiner. I say OUR friend, because like most people on WGN you felt like you knew him and he knew you. His reports were always timly and relevant. If Larry was on the phone, you knew something was happening someplace. I always liked his signiture signoff…… “Thank You ma’am or Thank You Sir”

    May Larry’s soul and all the souls of the faithful departed RIP

    Mark

  30. verna (Christmas stocking lady) says:

    I too miss the old WGN, never will it be the same. RIP Larry,Bob.Wally, and so meny others.

  31. Steve and Johnnie, I didn’t know that Larry passed away and just found out because I googled his name to find out what he was up to. Imagine my shock when I discovered that he just passed away this past june and was waked so close to where I live. I certainly would have gone to pay my respects to his sons. Reading about your memories of Larry brought both laughter and tears to my eyes because when I was working I listened to all of you who were part of my daily routine at that time. I especially remember his conversation with the person who wanted to take his own life and Larry successfully talked him out of it after many hours of trying. I really loved the old WGN gang and felt as though we were all friends. I miss all of you but the memories will always be with me. My sincere condolences to Larry’s sons and thank you Steve and Johnny for bringing back those old memories, I remember all of them well. That was a beautiful tribute to Larry.

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