‘Best of Car Talk’ going last miles for NPR, WAMC

Show 'is the best of public radio — honest, authentic, original, warm'
Tom Magliozzi (left) and brother Ray hosted their "Car Talk" radio program from 1977 until 2012.
Tom Magliozzi (left) and brother Ray hosted their "Car Talk" radio program from 1977 until 2012.

“The Best of Car Talk,” the long-running National Public Radio car and comedy show heard locally on WAMC, Northeast Public Radio, will conclude its run after Sept. 30.

While some radio stations have decided to pull the show from their schedules ahead of the end of production date, WAMC will keep Tom and Ray Magliozzi on the air until the finale.

“The Best of Car Talk” began as “Car Talk” in 1977, broadcasting from Boston’s WBUR radio station. The Magliozzi brothers were graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who became auto mechanics. On air, they also became known as “Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers.”

During shows, they advised callers about motor vehicle maintenance and repair. They also joked around with the man or woman seeking help. Gags and one-liners were part of the routine.

The show made its national debut with NPR in 1987.

The show was produced until October 2012, when the Magliozzis retired. “The Best of Car Talk” featured edited reruns; Tom Magliozzi died in 2014 at age 77.

National Public Radio announced last summer the show would end production.

“In many ways, ‘The Best of Car Talk’ is the best of public radio — honest, authentic, original, warm, interactive, broadly welcoming and unforgettable,” Doug Berman, the show’s executive producer, said in a press release.

The “Best of” show has been heard locally Saturdays from 10 until 11 a.m. Alan Chartock, WAMC’s president and chief executive officer, would like to keep the show parked right where it is. But he said he has no choice.

“NPR, in its usual way, has basically canceled the show and said, ‘We’re not going to give you this option any more,'” Chartock said. “We don’t own the program, so there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s NPR leaving us in the lurch once again.”

Chartock said “The Best of Car Talk” is one of the most popular programs on the WAMC schedule. He is fine with the rerun format, adding that “Gunsmoke,” the famous television western, has been out of production for decades. But he still likes watching the old shows.

Chartock added he does not agree with much of NPR’s programming.

“After ‘Morning Edition’ and ‘All Things Considered,’ there’s almost nothing we play of theirs,” Chartock said. “We consider those two shows the most worthwhile things that they have.”

Listeners responded to the news via social media, on The Daily Gazette’s Facebook page.

“At my camp growing up we never had TV, it was just radio and there wasn’t too much to choose from on that, but I can remember every Saturday morning ‘Car Talk’ would be on and every Saturday evening ‘Prairie Home Companion’ was on,” wrote Michael Beauregard. “With Garrison Keillor retiring and now ‘Car Talk’s’ inevitable end coming, it feels like truly the end of an era.”

Other comments:

  • From Jeannine Jacobs: “Loved listening to the show. So sad one of them is gone.”
  • From Nick Eagle: “It’s time. Nothing lasts forever, and one of the brothers has passed away.”
  • From Agnes Armstrong: “I know, it’s not the same in reruns, and the cars they talk about hardly exist any more, but they are still so entertaining, and I will miss them.”
  • From Ritch Harrigan: “End of an era, but it had been running as reruns only for a while now. Great radio, but it leaves space for something new.”
  • From Susan S. O’Donnell: “Time to let them rest in peace.”

The “Car Talk” website, Facebook page, Twitter account and other social media platforms will continue. Officials from NPR also said weekly podcasts of the series will be available after September.

The show’s vehicle donation program, which has raised millions of dollars for NPR member stations, also will continue.

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124, [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter.

Categories: Entertainment

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