Tuesday, June 12, 2012

OMG – Just When Everyone Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse – NPR Drops a Bombshell

Tom and Ray Are Quitting – A Day of National Mourning

In the early 1970’s a couple of MIT guys decided they had the perfect business idea.  They would open up a car repair garage, staff it with tools and manuals and let people come in and fix their own cars, for a fee.  The MIT guys, Tom and Ray Magliozzi would stand around and give advice.  It didn’t work out.

The brothers Tom Magliozzi, left, and Ray Magliozzi, of "Car Talk."
Tom and Ray - Faces Made for Radio

But what did happen was the local NPR station in Boston invited the brothers to be on a call in radio program to answer questions from listeners about cars and car repairs.  The rest, as they say is history, really good history.

Dean Cappello, the chief content officer for WNYC, the country’s largest public radio station, credited the brothers with bringing something new to the public radio sound waves: laughter.

“By laughing out loud on the radio, they gave permission for you at home to laugh too,” he said.

“Car Talk,” he said, “is about the human condition. It’s about the desperation you feel when you’re standing in front of something that doesn’t work, and how you work your way out of it.”

“Car Talk” started on WBUR, a Boston public radio station, in 1977. The brothers — both graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — gained expertise from running an auto repair shop in Cambridge, Mass. They kept working there while taping the weekly shows, which NPR has been distributing nationwide for 25 years. NPR has no higher-rated show.

But in October the show will stop. 

After 35 years of weekly broadcasts and some 12,500 calls, the wisecracking brothers announced on Friday that they are retiring. “As of October, we’re not going to be recording any more new shows,” Tom, 74, wrote in a CarTalk.com column written with Ray, 63, who added, “We’ve decided that it’s time to stop and smell the cappuccino.”

Well actually only new shows will stop.  NPR plans to rebroadcast the best of Car Talk, starting with the most entertaining calls to the program, called ‘fives’.

Mr. Nuzum did not venture a guess about how long NPR could keep distributing reproduced episodes of “Car Talk.” But the calls that are “fives” alone, he said, could make up eight years of material.

No one knows how long the show will last in rerun heaven, but the guess here is that it will emulate the Andy Griffith show in the state of North Carolina.  In North Carolina the Andy Griffith show is broadcast somewhere in the state every day.  That run in NC will never end, and one suspects the same is true of Car Talk.

Any complaints may be addressed to the law firm of Dewey, Cheatum and Howe, Harvard Square, Cambridge Massachusetts (our fair city).

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