WBUR

‘Car Talk’ Guys, On WBUR For 35 Years, Will Retire

Ray and Tom Magliozzi, of 'Car Talk' (Richard Howard)

Ray and Tom Magliozzi, of 'Car Talk' (Richard Howard)

After 35 years on our air, two of WBUR’s most famous names — and voices — have announced that “it’s time to stop and smell the cappuccino.”

Tom and Ray Magliozzi, aka Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers, of Car Talk, will no longer produce new programs, as of this fall.

“My brother has always been ‘work-averse,’ ” said Ray, 63, in a statement from NPR. “Now, apparently, even the one hour a week is killing him!”

“It’s brutal!” said Tom, 74.

The comic mechanic brothers added on the show blog:

TOM: And with Car Talk celebrating its 25th anniversary on NPR this fall (35th year overall, including our local years at WBUR)…

RAY: …and my brother turning over the birthday odometer to 75, we’ve decided that it’s time to stop and smell the cappuccino.

(Richard Howard)

(Richard Howard)

Newly Produced Rebroadcasts, Using Archives

However, beginning in October the show “will continue to be distributed by NPR drawing on material from their 25 years of show archives,” according to the statement. That’s more than 1,200 shows.

“We can produce a great-sounding, fresh Car Talk show every week from the archives,” said Doug Berman, the show’s producer, in a letter to NPR. “[Its performance] will match the performance of the existing show.

“Basically, you’ll be getting a fresh, new, ‘Best of Car Talk’ to air every Saturday morning,” Berman added later in the letter.

He said that the existing producers will remain producing the show.

The brothers added that they’ll “still be contributing to our web site regularly, writing our weekly ‘Dear Tom and Ray’ column.”

Lots Of Reaction

In a statement, WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz said, in part:

… I want to express my gratitude to Tom and Ray and Doug Berman and his whole team. Their extraordinary work and endless hours of wit and wisdom and entertainment have delighted audiences across the country and the world. As most of you know, Car Talk began as a little experiment on WBUR and reached national distribution when Susan Stamberg heard about it and put a regular segment on Weekend Edition. The rest is history…. [Note: The show is now on 660 stations nationwide, with 3.3 million weekly listeners.]

We’re pleased that Car Talk with continue to be produced from its archival material. Doug assures me that there are years’ worth of material that have yet to be aired.

NPR CEO Gary Knell, to Poynter:

Tom and Ray have become icons to millions of fans, including me, over the last 25 years. I’m thrilled that they will continue to entertain and engage today’s fans and future fans for many years to come.

On Twitter, the reaction to the show’s announcement has been a mix of shock and sadness. Here’s a sampling (And here’s a Storify of much more Twitter reaction, and Here & Now has even more):

@Matt_PC: CAR TALK IS ENDING. THIS MUST BE MOURNED IN ALL CAPS.

@PR_SarahG: Nooo! @CarTalk shuts up after 35 years on @WBUR?!? Reruns are great, but I’m gonna miss new Click & Clack tomfoolery :(

@Bosrunner: Oh no! @wbur just announced that the car talk guys are retiring! My dad is going to be so bummed

Following the outpouring of reaction, the show responded, on Twitter, in characteristic fashion:

Thanks to all for the nice comments, but this isn’t a wake! We won’t be taping new shows, but we will still be polluting the airwaves!

Want to share your thoughts? Leave them in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

And here’s a link to Car Talk’s “classic” shows.

Update at 3:15 p.m.: The Nieman Journalism Lab reports on the history of the show:

It would air for a decade before WBUR hired [producer Doug] Berman to create a national pilot.

“I think this show benefited from 10 years of benign neglect in a lot of ways,” Berman told me. “They didn’t know what to do, and they weren’t getting paid. And they didn’t think anybody was listening. So they were just themselves.”

Update at 9 p.m.: Here’s WBUR’s feature on the news, reported by Monica Brady-Myerov.

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