WBUR is saddened by the passing of our friend and colleague, Tom Magliozzi, co-host of Car Talk.
No one could have imagined, when two native Cambridge guys came into the WBUR studios in 1977 and started taking listeners’ calls about cars, that they would change public radio forever. But in fact that is exactly what happened.
“Genius comes in many forms, and we know that Tom’s came in the form of laughter,” said WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz. “Everyone who loves Car Talk starts with the same question, ‘Which one has the laugh?’ – that was Tommy. He was the definition of self-deprecation as he made fun of everyone, but first and foremost himself. He was smart and wise and funny: an unbeatable combination.”
Remembering Car Talk’s Tom
“Is Car Talk about cars, or is it about life, love, relationships, families and everything in between?” said Sam Fleming, managing director of news and programming. “The simple answer is: yes.”
Every weekend, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, also known as Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, have shared the stories of our lives—and helped us understand that those stories are universal. And of course, Click and Clack have made us laugh a lot.
It all began when WBUR invited six local mechanics to come in and take listeners’ questions about cars. Only one showed up: Tom Magliozzi. The next week, he came back with his little brother and fellow mechanic, Ray.
For the next 10 years, the brothers did the show locally at WBUR, on a volunteer basis. Slowly, they injected more and more humor and off-topic diversions into their discussions of carburetors and wheel bearings—following their natural curiosity and pushing the limits for what was then a typically decorous public radio station. “Since we weren’t making any money,” Tom once said, “we figured we might as well have fun.”
The brothers’ unique combination of hilarious, self-deprecating banter and trustworthy advice was picked up by NPR in 1987, and Car Talk soon became the network’s most popular entertainment program ever, reaching audiences of more than four million people a week. The program has continued to be a top-rated show on NPR stations in syndication, even after the brothers stopped recording new shows in 2012.
“Tom was a genuine original with his unapologetic Boston accent,” said Kravetz. “He was from this place, of this town, and a true believer in ‘our fair city.’ His friends at WBUR will miss him deeply because we were blessed with his presence every week. It is said that everyone is replaceable. Not Tom Magliozzi.”
WBUR will air a special Car Talk rebroadcast tonight at 9 p.m. on 90.9 FM and live-streaming on wbur.org. This weekend, a memorial tribute Car Talk program will air on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 11 a.m., the program’s familiar slot on WBUR.