‘Car Talk’ helped me, not my car
Despite shifting through all the gears of my brain, I can’t think of a single time I fixed my car based on information I learned from “Car Talk.”
That must mean I wasted countless hours listening to the show. Wrong!
It also doesn’t mean Tom and Ray Magliozzi, who have answered car questions on public radio for 25 years, don’t know how to diagnose vehicle maladies.
If I lived in Cambridge, Mass., I would gladly entrust my car to their care. No doubt the garage they operate there is where they learned the vagaries of every vehicle ever mass produced.
Of course, their studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may have helped them explain why certain systems fail under the odd conditions their listeners often describe.
Their genius doesn’t stop with things mechanical. In fact, their show is a vehicle to display wonderful wit.
People who don’t know an alternator from a carburetor listen to the show. They listen because the brothers — Click and Clack, as they became known — have an ability to make people laugh.
One of the joys of the show is the contagiousness with which they make each other laugh.
Even callers facing repair bills or junkyards usually join in the laughter and seem to feel better after a chat with Click and Clack.
The pair’s counseling often works its way from under the car hoods and into the lives of callers with the kind of take-it-or-leave-it advice a wise friend might offer.
The brothers know how to joke with their callers, without being demeaning even when the callers have a silly problem or one so simple I can diagnose it.
The only below-the-belt shots they take are at each other, and even those are the good-natured jabs of brothers enjoying banter.
For years they made my whole family laugh as we listened to them in the car.
Occasionally their humor has stereotyped men, women or mothers-in-law, but that political incorrectness never felt offensive because it was never malicious.
Over the years, Click and Clack wisely steered away from the potholes of politics and religion. They’ll leave the air with me happily ignorant of how they stand on those polarizing subjects.
They will cease making new shows in October. I hope they find things that make them as happy as chatting with callers and each other.
NPR plans to continue to run their best programs from the past. It would be a mistake to do otherwise, since “Car Talk” is NPR’s most-popular show.
Trying to re-create “Car Talk” with anyone other than Tom Magliozzi, 74, and Ray Magliozzi, 63, would be a horrible idea.
After October, I’ll continue to listen to the rebroadcasts, but may feel saddened they aren’t broadcasting live.
And I’ll be really upset if I get a car problem worthy of a call to Click and Clack.
Bob Anderson welcomes comments by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.