NPR announced Friday (June 8) that Tom and Ray Magliozzi, hosts of the popular and long-running Car Talk, will lay down their wrenches and stop recording new episodes as of October. The show will continue, however, with producers repackaging calls mined from Car Talk’s 25-years-deep archive. The Magliozzis, also known as Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, started recording Car Talk 35 years ago at Boston’s WBUR (Current, June 19, 1995). NPR brought it to national distribution a decade later. It grew into public radio’s most popular show, as measured by average-quarter-hour listening, and became a fixture on many weekend morning lineups on public radio.
The hosts of Car Talk, the popular pubradio show celebrating its 25th season this fall, are retiring, they announced to listeners today (June 8). Tom and Ray Magliozzi, aka Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers, actually started the show 10 years earlier at WBUR in Boston. Tom is 74 years old, Ray is 63.An NPR press release said that they will not tape new shows but their weekly call-in series will continue to be distributed from their archives of 1,200 shows beginning in October. The two will continue to write their twice-weekly "Dear Tom and Ray" column.Car Talk evolved out of what was supposed to be a call-in show with a panel of mechanics, according to a June 1995 story in Current. The WBUR volunteer/producer called the brothers to sit on the panel and Tom agreed, thinking that it would generate business for the pair's fledgling garage.
In a time when American audiences give themselves to performers who act like "real people," the irony of Tom and Ray Magliozzi is that they are who they seem to be. The listeners get it. Ratings for the brothers' radio show, the automotive-philosophical-political call-in colloquium, dubiously titled Car Talk, are among the highest of any NPR program — 1.9 million people a week, listening to 362 stations, which ranks the program after Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Fresh Air. The Magliozzis' genuine mechanical expertise notwithstanding, listeners most often say that the appeal of Car Talk is Tom and Ray themselves. "I think what we're doing is sort of giving Tom and Ray a forum, a reason to be on the air," says Executive Producer Doug Berman.