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Thread: RIP Car Talk
06-09-2012, 12:29 PM #1
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RIP Car Talk
Hosts put the brakes on NPR's 'Car Talk' - latimes.com
They will braodcast reruns, but no more new shows.
Hosts put the brakes on NPR's 'Car Talk'
Brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi used humor and plain talk to draw millions each week to 'Car Talk.'
By Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times
June 9, 2012
They were a couple of auto mechanics with a pronounced Boston brogue and, improbably, degrees from MIT. They hadn't a clue how to perform on radio, much less public radio.
So Tom and Ray Magliozzi just decided to have a good time. The result was "Car Talk," which shattered the perception that public radio is inaccessible to the masses and became National Public Radio's top-rated weekend show.
"They never developed that affect of sonorousness and seriousness and gravitas public radio is known for," said the show's executive producer, the man Tom and Ray would identify on air as Doug "Not-a-Slave-to-Fashion" Berman. "They didn't know any better, so they were just themselves."
After 35 years on the air, the brothers announced Friday that the run was ending. No longer would they be dishing on cars so old that their odometers switched to scientific notation or delivering gift advice to VW Bus lovers. The show informally known as "Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers" will tape its final original show this fall.
Declaring that "even one hour a week is too much" work, the comedian-mechanics said it was time to "stop and smell the cappuccino" instead of inhaling exhaust. The call-in show is syndicated on 660 radio stations and is heard by 3.3 million listeners weekly.
"The good news is that, despite our general incompetence, we actually remembered to hit the 'record' button every week for the last 25 years," said Tom Magliozzi, whose 75th birthday later this year was cited as the reason for the end of new "Car Talk" programming.
Starting in October, "Car Talk" producers will assemble shows using the more than 1,200 programs the brothers have recorded for NPR since 1987. "For a couple years at least, we're not going to see a lot of difference in how the show performs," said Eric Nuzum, vice president for NPR programming inWashington, D.C., adding that NPR did tests asking listeners to compare new "Car Talk" shows with ones crafted from old material. "The answer we got is it doesn't matter when it was recorded. Funny is funny."
The Magliozzis will continue writing their weekly "Dear Tom and Ray" column on the CarTalk.com website, which, within the last few weeks has answered "ethical" questions such as whether a mechanic should have removed a mouse nest from an engine during an oil change. On Friday, the site was flooded with an outpouring of affection for the radio show hosts who marry a deep knowledge of cars with a jocular style that pokes fun at themselves, their callers and the cars for which they seek advice.
"There goes Saturday morning," one fan wrote.
"WHAT!!! I have been calling into Car Talk for years trying to get on your show," wrote another. "I own 2 Fiats, have at least 1 ex-wife and my name ends in a vowel! Geez, we're practically family."
The brothers' thick accents hint at their Boston roots. Both Tom and Ray Magliozzi, 63, received bachelor's degrees (in economics, and humanities and science, respectively) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but they decided to pursue auto mechanics and run their own shop, the Good News Garage, in Cambridge, Mass. (where Ray continues to work).
"Car Talk" made its debut in 1977 on WBUR in Boston after the Magliozzis were approached to field calls seeking automotive advice on a community radio station. The Magliozzis were such a hit they were offered their own show. Ten years later, they were picked up for syndication by NPR.
"Not many shows that are maintenance, how-to shows can carry it off where people listen to be entertained. That makes the show extremely potent," said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers Magazine, which tracks the talk radio industry.
Repackaging "Car Talk" with material from the last 25 years, Harrison said, is a novelty "but it's better than it going away completely. It's a very smart idea to keep it going by reorganizing the material so that people can continue to hear it."
The likability of the Magliozzi brothers hasn't always translated to other media. "Car Talk" inspired the short-lived "The George Wendt Show," in which Wendt played one of two brothers who ran a garage and hosted a call-in radio show. It aired on CBS in 1995-1996. In 2008, the Magliozzis lent their voices to the PBS animated series, "Click and Clack's as the Wrench Turns," which had cartoon versions of the brothers creating a car powered with pasta, among other exploits. The show was canceled after 10 episodes.
"Car Talk" is carried locally on Southern California Public Radio station KPCC-FM in Pasadena. According to an email that KPCC program director Craig Curtis sent to staff Friday, the station will continue to carry the program. " 'Car Talk' should stand up well in reruns for quite some time," he wrote, "and I expect we'll continue carrying the program as long as it's appealing to our audience."
Bill Davis, president and chief executive of Southern California Public Radio, said the reformat "underscores how important it is for public radio specifically and public media generally to be developing new shows, because these guys aren't going to live forever and neither is Garrison Keillor."
Writing at cartalk.com, Ray said: "We've managed to avoid getting thrown off NPR for 25 years, given tens of thousands of wrong answers and had a hell of a time every week talking to callers. The stuff in our archives still makes us laugh. So we figured, why keep slaving over a hot microphone."2014 AAT - Phil Coke
I was thrown out of N.Y.U. my freshman year for cheating on my metaphysics final, you know. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me. - Alvy Singer
06-09-2012, 12:48 PM #2
This is a profound loss to western civilization.Bruce
06-09-2012, 01:19 PM #3
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Tom and Ray will be missed -- I don't know much of anything about cars but I always enjoyed listening to their program.
06-09-2012, 02:52 PM #4
Just as Fiat returns to our shores, they fold and leave us stranded on the side of the road.Live your life for what it can be and not for what it was.
MMXIV AAT: KYLE RYAN
06-09-2012, 06:00 PM #5
Our fair city.
1987 is when I started listening, but I only listen to radio in the car so I have caught them irregularly but often for 25 years. Love the show. The Puzzlers used to actually be about cars then they just settled into logic puzzles quite some time ago."If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster."--Clint Eastwood
2014 Adopt A Tiger: Aníbal Sánchez, RSP
06-09-2012, 07:42 PM #6
What a shame. I'll be the first to admit I took this show for granted over the last 5 or so years.
I understand wanting to really retire, and they deserve it, but these guys have been providing me driving entertainment literally my entire life. Will be severely missed.GO TIGERS
06-09-2012, 07:43 PM #7
06-09-2012, 07:55 PM #8
I loved this show too. It was a good run.When our weapons are more precious than our children, our society is broken
hands like escalators.
06-09-2012, 11:17 PM #9
06-10-2012, 01:30 AM #10
Until computers and technology surpassed me, I did most of my own work on cars. I could swap a motor in my own garage in an afternoon. It's not that I necessarily wanted to work on them, I had to for affordability sake. Installing 4 high performance shocks was too pricey to outsource it. Today if I detect a problem I rely on a local garage with the proper diagnostic equipment. I still have the manuals though if you need the point gap or dwell angle on a 55 Dodge. I was always trying to find a few extra ponies in a mostly stock motor.Live your life for what it can be and not for what it was.
MMXIV AAT: KYLE RYAN
06-10-2012, 10:47 AM #11
There were times in my life when I listened to this show every week, mainly in the late 80s through mid 90s when I lived in mostly suburban situations (i.e., drove a lot on weekends). Haven't listened to them much since. Sorry to hear they are retiring, but I can hardly blame them for wanting to "'smell the cappuccino' instead of inhaling exhaust".
06-10-2012, 10:55 AM #12MotownSports Fan
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