Car Talk refers to the work of Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, that includes a website, and a podcast of reruns that is currently hosted by Apple Podcasts, NPR Podcasts, and Sticher. Car Talk was originally a radio show that ran on National Public Radio (NPR) from 1977 until October 2012, when the Magliozzi brothers retired. Tom died on November 3, 2014, aged 77, in Belmont, Massachusetts, of complications from Alzheimer's disease.
|Running time||approx. 50 min|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Syndicates||National Public Radio (NPR)|
|Hosted by||Tom Magliozzi|
|Executive producer(s)||Doug Berman|
|Recording studio||Boston, Massachusetts|
|Original release||1977 (WBUR-FM); 1987 (nationally) –|
2012 (original episodes)
|Opening theme||"Dawggy Mountain Breakdown"|
by David Grisman
|Other themes||"Dixie Flyer" (intermission)|
by Randy Newman
"Stump the Chumps"
by B. J. Leiderman
Car Talk was presented in the form of a call-in radio show: listeners called in with questions related to motor vehicle maintenance and repair. Most of the advice sought was diagnostic, with callers describing symptoms and demonstrating sounds of an ailing vehicle while the Magliozzis made an attempt to identify the malfunction over the telephone and give advice on how to fix it. While the hosts peppered their call-in sessions with jokes directed at both the caller and at themselves, the Magliozzis were usually able to arrive at a diagnosis. However, when they were stumped, they attempted anyway with an answer they claimed was "unencumbered by the thought process", the official motto of the show.
Call-in procedure edit
Throughout the program, listeners were encouraged to dial the toll-free telephone number, 1-888-CAR-TALK (1-888-227-8255), which connected to a 24-hour answering service. Although the approximately 2,000 queries received each week were screened by the Car Talk staff, the questions were unknown to the Magliozzis in advance as "that would entail researching the right answer, which is what? ... Work."
In 1977, radio station WBUR-FM in Boston scheduled a panel of local car mechanics to discuss car repairs on one of its programs, but only Tom Magliozzi showed up. He did so well that he was asked to return as a guest, and he invited his younger brother Ray (who was actually more of a car repair expert) to join him. The brothers were soon asked to host their own radio show on WBUR, which they continued to do every week. In 1986, NPR decided to distribute their show nationally.
In 1989, the brothers started a newspaper column Click and Clack Talk Cars which, like the radio show, mixed serious advice with humor. King Features distributes the column. Ray Magliozzi continues to write the column, retitled Car Talk, after his brother's death in 2014, knowing he would have wanted the advice and humor to continue.
In 1992, Car Talk won a Peabody Award, saying "Each week, master mechanics Tom and Ray Magliozzi provide useful information about preserving and protecting our cars. But the real core of this program is what it tells us about human mechanics ... The insight and laughter provided by Messrs. Magliozzi, in conjunction with their producer Doug Berman, provide a weekly mental tune-up for a vast and ever-growing public radio audience."
In 2005, Tom and Ray Magliozzi founded the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program, "as a way to give back to the stations that were our friends and partners for decades — and whose programs we listen to every day." Since the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program was founded, over 40,000 vehicles have been donated to support local NPR stations and programs, with over $40 million donated. Approximately 70% of the proceeds generated go directly toward funding local NPR affiliates and programs.
As of 2012, it had 3.3 million listeners each week, on about 660 stations. On June 8, 2012, the brothers announced that they would no longer broadcast new episodes as of October. Executive producer Doug Berman said the best material from 25 years of past shows would be used to put together "repurposed" shows for NPR to broadcast. Berman estimated the archives contain enough for eight years' worth of material before anything would have to be repeated. Ray Magliozzi, however, would occasionally record new taglines and sponsor announcements that were aired at the end of the show.
Ray Magliozzi hosted a special Car Talk memorial episode for his brother Tom after he died in November 2014. However, Ray continued to write their syndicated newspaper column, saying that his brother would want him to.
The Best of Car Talk episodes ended their weekly broadcast on NPR on September 30, 2017, although past episodes would continue availability online and via podcasts. 120 of the 400 stations intended to continue airing the show. NPR announced one option for the time slot would be their new news-talk program It's Been a Minute.
On June 11, 2021, it was announced that radio distribution of Car Talk would officially end on October 1, 2021, and that NPR would begin distribution of a twice-weekly podcast that will be 35–40 minutes in length and include early versions of every show, in sequential order.
The Magliozzis were long-time auto mechanics. Ray Magliozzi has a Bachelor of Science degree in humanities and science from MIT, while Tom had a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from MIT, an MBA from Northeastern University, and a DBA from the Boston University School of Management.
The Magliozzis operated a do-it-yourself garage together in the 1970s which became more of a conventional repair shop in the 1980s. Ray continued to have a hand in the day-to-day operations of the shop for years, while his brother Tom semi-retired, often joking on Car Talk about his distaste for doing "actual work". The show's offices were located near their shop at the corner of JFK Street and Brattle Street in Harvard Square, marked as "Dewey, Cheetham & Howe", the imaginary law firm to which they referred on-air. DC&H doubled as the business name of Tappet Brothers Associates, the corporation established to manage the business end of Car Talk. Initially a joke, the company was incorporated after the show expanded from a single station to national syndication.
Executive producer Doug Berman said in 2012, "The guys are culturally right up there with Mark Twain and the Marx Brothers. They will stand the test of time. People will still be enjoying them years from now. They're that good."
In July 2007, PBS announced that it had green-lit an animated adaptation of Car Talk, to air on prime-time in 2008. The show, titled Click and Clack's As the Wrench Turns is based on the adventures of the fictional "Click and Clack" brothers' garage at "Car Talk Plaza". The ten episodes aired in July and August 2008.
Car Talk: The Musical!!! was written and directed by Wesley Savick, and composed by Michael Wartofsky. The adaptation was presented by Suffolk University, and opened on March 31, 2011, at the Modern Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts. The play was not officially endorsed by the Magliozzis, but they participated in the production, lending their voices to a central puppet character named "The Wizard of Cahs".
At the end of the show, Ray warns the audience, "Don't drive like my brother!" to which Tom replies, "And don't drive like my brother!" The original tag line was "Don't drive like a knucklehead!" There were variations such as, "Don't drive like my brother ..." "And don't drive like his brother!" and "Don't drive like my sister ..." "And don't drive like my sister!" The tagline was heard in the Pixar film Cars, in which Tom and Ray voiced anthropomorphized vehicles (Rusty and Dusty Rust-eze, respectively a 1963 Dodge Dart and 1963 Dodge A100 van, as Lightning McQueen's racing sponsors) with personalities similar to their own on-air personae. Tom notoriously once owned a "convertible, green with large areas of rust!" Dodge Dart, known jokingly on the program by the faux-elegant name "Dartre".
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