Ray Magliozzi recounts 44 years of ‘Car Talk’ after show’s final run


“I would have to say to people who listened, thanks! They made our job easy, and they made our job fun.”

Tom (left) and Ray Magliozzi dished out advice on cars and life on ‘Car Talk.’ Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/File 2008

As WBUR’s “The Best of Car Talk” made its final radio appearance after 44 years on Saturday, co-host Ray Magliozzi recounted the show with his brother as “a wonderful time” in an interview with the local radio station.

“You know, whoever thought that the show would have lasted as long as it did?” Magliozzi said. “With two buffoons making fun of one another, laughing at each other’s jokes, or worse, laughing at their own jokes?”

Ray Magliozzi and his brother, Tom Magliozzi, became better known as the Tappet brothers — Click and Clack. Together, the two poked fun at one another, talked about life problems, answered a few car questions, and above all, laughed.

“That’s what Car Talk became: dispelling myths — and solving family issues. And we had the most fun doing that. We really did,” Magliozzi said. “Once in a while, we’d come up with a brilliant answer to an automotive query. Once in a while! But in any case, it was always entertaining, at least for my brother, because no matter what the answer was, he laughed.”

Tom died in 2014 at age 77.

The Cambridge auto-mechanics first started the show in 1977 when WBUR was only a small station airing out of Boston University. Less than 10 years later, the show moved to a national audience airing on NPR.

“I’ll tell you one thing, it was never work, either,” Magliozzi said. “I mean, Tom and I would come in — often we rode in in the same car — and we’d be laughing all the way in. We’d do the show, and we’d laugh all the way home! It was always fun.”

The show aired its last live broadcast in 2012, but WBUR has been airing old broadcasts ever since. Across Massachusetts and the country, the brothers became known for using car problems as a way to talk about family, relationships, and life.

“Sooner or later it all comes back, doesn’t it?” Magliozzi said. “I mean, people’s lives are so intertwined with their cars that it’s hard to separate the two, especially when you get familial relations involved.”

Despite Car Talk‘s success, Magliozzi said in the show’s early days, the two brothers were clueless when it came to the radio business.

“For the first three, four, five months, we’d see the ‘On Air’ light come on, and we would ask the engineer, ‘So, are we on now?’ And he must have said, ‘Oh, my God, they are the two stupidest guys on the planet!’,” Magliozzi said. “And after a while, you know, we knew we were doing something wrong, but it became fun to do it. And we just did it every week!”

While Magliozzi misses his brother, and co-hosting the show with him, he told WBUR he feels lucky to have spent so much time together. He said he looks back on the time with his brother thinking, “What a wonderful time we had!”

“You know, Tom and I have always been who we are. So the show is completely unrehearsed, unvarnished and — what’s the other word? Unprofessional,” Magliozzi said. “You know, it was completely amateurish. And I think people listened to a large extent to see how many mistakes we’d make in a given hour.”

When asked what surprised him the most about the show, Magliozzi said he wonders, “What took them so long to get rid of us?”

“What the heck were they thinking?” Magliozzi added. “To this day, it still baffles me.”

Magliozzi known for his amiable persona — was asked for tips on how to get through life with a “friendly exuberance.”

“I just have always felt that my mission in life is to make other people happy. And you have a choice. You can make other people miserable, or you make other people happy,” Magliozzi said. “And if you have a chance to make other people happy, that’s a lot more fun.”

The Best of Car Talk will be moving to a podcast format, which will release edits of old episodes twice a week starting Oct. 1.

“I would have to say to people who listened, thanks!” Magliozzi said. “They made our job easy, and they made our job fun.”

Katherine E. Ackerman

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