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Working With The "Car Talk" Crew04:14
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Ray (left) and Tom Magliozzi (far right) welcome Bill Littlefield (second from left) and Only A Game to the NPR family in 1997. The other guy is of no consequence (unless you've heard of Weekend Edition or Scott Simon).
Ray (left) and Tom Magliozzi (far right) welcome Bill Littlefield (second from left) and Only A Game to the NPR family in 1997. The other guy is of no consequence (unless you've heard of Weekend Edition or Scott Simon).

Yesterday, presumably from the All Things Whether Or Not They Are Any Good Must Come To An End Conference Complex in the Enough Already Wing of palatial Car Talk Plaza, Tom and Ray Magliozzi announced that in the fall, they will stop producing new programs. Actually, "announced" sounds all wrong. They probably chortled it.

Car Talk, a cornerstone of NPR, or perhaps a millstone around the network's neck, has been on the air for thirty five years…and it will continue to be on the air after this fall, when Click and Clack will finally stop mucking up the same studio out of which "Only A Game" is produced. The brothers Magliozzi have so much recorded stuff that there will be no problem building more programs.

So why should we care that the brothers won't actually be here at WBUR?

Well, I care because there won't be nearly as much food available as there has been. Tom and Ray come to the station bearing bagels. They and their long list of associates, Doug "Bongo Boy," "Not A Slave To Fashion" Berman and the rest, always order in more than they can eat, meaning that a couple of times a week, I don't have to bring my lunch.

Beyond that, their departure will mean that WBUR can never again make the mistake of lumping us together during a fundraiser. The station did that once, years ago. Tom, Ray, and I had a wonderful time stepping on each others' lines and breaking each other up, generally creating a rollicking good if essentially pointless half hour of radio. "Pointless" because unfortunately we pretty much completely neglected to mention the station's phone number, meaning that we didn't raise a dime.

But seriously, folks…will I miss Tom and Ray? Yes, and I will not be alone. They laugh about as often off the air as they laugh on it, and as anybody who has listened to Car Talk knows, their laughter is spectacularly contagious. And it is loud. For decades it has rung along the corridors of the radio station where I work, reminding me that what I'm doing – what everybody is doing – is not so serious or so important that we shouldn't look up and laugh.

Over my desk there is an index card featuring something Charles Dickens wrote: "No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else." This Tom and Ray have been doing for a quarter of a century for the millions of people who have heard them on the radio, and for the far fewer especially fortunate people who have grabbed up their leftover bagels.

This segment aired on June 9, 2012.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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