Car Talk

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Third Half" redirects here. For the Macedonian film, see The Third Half.
Car Talk
Car Talk Logo.svg
Genre Automotive repair/advice,
Humor
Running time approx. 50 min
Country United States
Language(s) English
Home station WBUR
Syndicates National Public Radio
Host(s) Tom Magliozzi
Ray Magliozzi
Exec. producer(s) Doug Berman
Recording studio Boston, Massachusetts
Air dates 1977 (WBUR); 1987 (nationally) to 2012 (original episodes)
Audio format Stereophonic
Opening theme "Dawggy Mountain Breakdown", David Grisman, composer
Other themes B. J. Leiderman[1] (composer)
Website cartalk.com

Car Talk is a Peabody Award-winning radio talk show broadcast weekly on NPR stations and elsewhere. Its subjects were automobiles and automotive repair, discussed often in a humorous way. It was hosted by brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi, known also as Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers.

The show was produced from 1977 to October 2012, until the Magliozzi brothers retired. Edited reruns continue to be available for airing on NPR affiliates.[2]

Show[edit]

Car Talk was presented in the form of a call-in radio show: listeners called in with questions related to motor vehicle maintenance and repair. Most of the advice sought was diagnostic, with callers describing symptoms and demonstrating sounds of an ailing vehicle while the Magliozzis make an attempt at identifying the malfunction. While the hosts peppered their call-in sessions with jokes directed at both the caller and at themselves, the Magliozzis were usually able to arrive at a diagnosis and give helpful advice.

Edited reruns are carried on Sirius XM Radio via both the Public Radio and NPR Now channels.[3][4][5][6]

The Car Talk theme song is "Dawggy Mountain Breakdown" by bluegrass artist David Grisman.[7]

Call-in procedure[edit]

Throughout the program, listeners were encouraged to dial the toll-free telephone number, 1-888-CAR-TALK (1-888-227-8255), which connected to a 24-hour answering service. Although the approximately 2,000 queries received each week were screened by the Car Talk staff, the questions were unknown to the Magliozzis in advance as "that would entail researching the right answer, which is what? ...Work."[8] Producers selected and contacted the callers several days ahead of the show's Wednesday taping to arrange the segment. The caller spoke briefly to a producer before being connected live with the hosts, and was given little coaching other than being told to be prepared to talk, not to use any written preparation and to "have fun". The show deliberately taped more callers than it has time to air each week in order to be able to choose the best ones for broadcast. Those segments that did make it to air were generally edited for time. For the last four years of the show, new shows included previously broadcast segments as much as 10 years old. The re-used segments, including re-used puzzlers, were not acknowledged as old material and sometimes new caller material was mixed in alongside the recycled calls.[9]

Features[edit]

The show originally consisted of two segments with a break in between. Then the show was changed to three segments. The hosts used to refer to content coming up in the second half of the program. Ever since the shift to the three segment format, it became a running joke to refer to the last segment as "the third half" of the program.

The show opened with a short comedy segment, typically jokes sent in by listeners, followed by eight call-in sessions. The hosts ran a contest called the "Puzzler", in which a riddle, sometimes car-related, was presented. The answer to the previous week's "Puzzler" was given at the beginning of the "second half" of the show, and a new "Puzzler" was given at the start of the "third half". The hosts gave instructions to listeners to write answers addressed to "Puzzler Tower" on some non-existent or expensive object, such as a "$26 bill" or an advanced digital SLR camera. This gag initially started as suggestions that the answers be written "on the back of a $20 bill". A running gag concerned Tom's inability to remember the previous week's "Puzzler" without heavy prompting from Ray. For each puzzler, one correct answer was chosen at random, with the winner receiving a $26 gift certificate to the Car Talk store, referred to as the "Shameless Commerce Division".[10] It was originally $25, but was increased for inflation after a few years. Originally, the winner received a specific item from the store, but it soon changed to a gift certificate to allow the winner to choose the item they wanted (though Tom often made an item suggestion).

A recurring feature was "Stump the Chumps," in which the hosts revisited a caller from a previous show to determine the accuracy and the effect, if any, of their advice. A similar feature began in May 2001, "Where Are They Now, Tommy?" It began with a comical musical theme with a sputtering, backfiring car engine and a horn as a backdrop. Tom then announced who the previous caller was, followed by a short replay of the essence of the previous caller was played, preceded and followed by harp music often used in other audiovisual media to indicate recalling and returning from a dream. The hosts then greeted the previous caller, asking them if there have been any influences on the answer they're about to relate, such as arcane bribes by the NPR staff. The repair story was then discussed, followed by a fanfare and applause if the Tappet Brothers' diagnosis was correct, or a wah-wah-wah music piece mixed with a car starter operated by a weak battery (an engine which won't start) if the diagnosis was wrong. The hosts then thanked the caller for their return appearance.

The brothers also had an official Animal-Vehicle Biologist and Wildlife Guru named Kieran Lindsey.[11] She answered questions like How do I remove a snake from my car? and offered advice on how those living in cities and suburbs can reconnect with wildlife.[12]

Celebrities have been callers as well. Examples include Geena Davis, Morley Safer, Ashley Judd, Gordon Elliott, former Major League pitcher Bill Lee, and astronaut John Grunsfeld calling from the Space Shuttle. There were numerous appearances from NPR personalities, including Bob Edwards, Susan Stamberg, Scott Simon, Ray Suarez, Will Shortz, Sylvia Poggioli, and commentator and author Daniel Pinkwater. On one occasion, the show featured Martha Stewart as an in-studio guest, whom the Magliozzis twice during the segment referred to as "Margaret".

In addition to at least one on-orbit call, the Brothers once received a call asking advice on winterizing a couple of "kit cars". After much beating around the bush and increasing evasiveness by the caller, they asked him just how much these kit cars were worth. The answer: about $800 million. It was a joke call from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory concerning the preparation of the Mars Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) for the oncoming Martian winter[episode needed]. Click and Clack have also been featured in editorial cartoons, including one where a befuddled NASA engineer calls them to ask how to fix the Space Shuttle[episode needed].

Humor[edit]

Humor and wisecracking pervaded the program. Tom and Ray are known for their self-deprecating humor, often joking about the supposedly poor quality of their advice and the show in general. They also commented at the end of each show: "Well, it's happened again — you've squandered another perfectly good hour listening to Car Talk."

At some point in almost every show, usually when giving the address for the Puzzler answers, Ray mentioned Cambridge, Massachusetts (where the show originates), at which point Tom reverently interjected with a tone of civic pride, "Our fair city." Ray invariably mocked "Cambridge, MA" the US Postal Service's two letter abbreviation for "Massachusetts" by pronouncing it as a word.

Leading into each break in the show, one of the hosts led up to the network identification with a humorous take on a disgusted reaction of some usually famous person to hearing that identification. The full line went along the pattern of, for example, "And even though Roger Clemens stabs his radio with a syringe whenever he hears us say it, this is NPR: National Public Radio (later just '...this is NPR')."

The ending credits of the show started with thanks to the colorfully nicknamed actual staffers: producer Doug "the subway fugitive, not a slave to fashion, bongo boy frogman" Berman;[13] "John 'Bugsy' Lawlor, just back from the..." every week a different eating event with rhyming foodstuff names; David "Calves of Belleville" Greene;[14] Catherine "Frau Blücher" Fenollosa, whose name caused a horse to neigh and gallop (an allusion to a running gag in the movie Young Frankenstein);[15] and Carly "High Voltage" Nix,[16] among others. Following the real staff was a lengthy list of pun-filled fictional staffers and sponsors such as statistician Marge Innovera ("margin of error"), customer care representative Haywood Jabuzoff ("Hey, would ya buzz off"), meteorologist Claudio Vernight ("cloudy overnight"), optometric firm C.F. Eye Care ("see if I care"), Russian chauffeur Pikov Andropov ("pick up and drop off"), Leo Tolstoy biographer Warren Peace ("War and Peace"), hygiene officer and chief of the Tokyo office Otaka Shawa ("oh take a shower"), Swedish snow-board instructor Soren Derkeister ("sore in the keister"), and law firm Dewey, Cheetham & Howe ("Do we cheat 'em? And how!"), among many, many others.[17]

At the end of the show, Ray warned the audience, "Don't drive like my brother," to which Tom replied, "And don't drive like my brother." The original tag line was "Don't drive like a knucklehead." There have been variations such as, "Don't drive like my brother..." "And don't drive like his brother," and "Don't drive like my sister..." "And don't drive like my sister." The tagline was heard in a cameo for the Pixar film Cars, in which Tom and Ray voiced anthropomorphized vehicles (Rusty and Dusty Rust-Eze, respectively a 1963 Dodge Dart V1.0 and 1963 Dodge A100 van, as Lightning McQueen's racing sponsors) with personalities similar to their own on-air personae.[18] Tom notoriously once owned a "convertible, green with large areas of rust" Dodge Dart, known jokingly on the program by the faux-elegant name "Dartre".[19]

History[edit]

Car Talk was first broadcast on WBUR in Boston in 1977 and was picked up nationally by NPR ten years later.[citation needed]

In 1992, Car Talk won a Peabody Award, saying "Each week, master mechanics Tom and Ray Magliozzi provide useful information about preserving and protecting our cars. But the real core of this program is what it tells us about human mechanics....The insight and laughter provided by Messrs. Magliozzi, in conjunction with their producer Doug Berman, provide a weekly mental tune-up for a vast and ever-growing public radio audience."[20]

In May 2007, the program, which previously had been available only digitally as a paid subscription from Audible.com, became a free podcast distributed by NPR, after a two-month test period where only a "call of the week" was available via podcast.[citation needed]

As of 2012, it had 3.3 million listeners each week, on about 660 stations.[2] On June 8, 2012, the brothers announced that they would no longer broadcast new episodes as of October. Executive producer Doug Berman said the best material from 25 years of past shows would be used to put together "repurposed" shows for NPR to broadcast. Berman estimated the archives contain enough for eight years' worth of material before anything would have to be repeated. The brothers will continue to write their syndicated newspaper column.[2][21]

Hosts[edit]

Main article: Tom and Ray Magliozzi
The name of the DC&H corporate offices is visible on the third floor window above the corner of Brattle and JFK Streets, in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Magliozzis are long-time car mechanics. Ray Magliozzi has a bachelor of science degree in humanities and science from MIT, while Tom has a bachelor of science degree in economics from MIT and an MBA and DBA from the Boston University Graduate School of Management.

The duo, usually led by Ray, were known for rants on the evils of the internal combustion engine, people who talk on cell phones while driving, Peugeots, women named Donna who always seem to drive Camaros, lawyers, the clever use of the English language, people who choose to live in Alaska (or similar snowy, icy climates), and practically anything else, including themselves. They had a relaxed and humorous approach to cars, car repair, cup holders, pets, lawyers, car repair mechanics, SUVs, and almost everything else. They often cast a critical, jaundiced insider's eye toward the auto industry. Tom and Ray are committed to the values of defensive driving and environmentalism.

The Magliozzis operate a garage. The show's offices were located nearby at the corner of JFK Street and Brattle Street in Harvard Square, marked as "Dewey, Cheetham & Howe", the imaginary law firm to which they refer on-air. DC&H doubled as the business name of Tappet Brothers Associates, the corporation established to manage the business end of Car Talk. Initially a joke, the company was incorporated after the show expanded from a single station to national syndication.

The two were commencement speakers at MIT in 1999.

Executive producer Doug Berman said in 2012, "The guys are culturally right up there with Mark Twain and the Marx Brothers. They will stand the test of time. People will still be enjoying them years from now. They're that good."[2]

Adaptations[edit]

The show was the inspiration for the short-lived The George Wendt Show, which briefly aired on CBS in the 1994-95 season- as a mid-season replacement.[8]

In July 2007, PBS announced that it had greenlit an animated adaptation of Car Talk, to air on prime-time in 2008.[22] The show, titled Click and Clack's As the Wrench Turns is based on the adventures of the fictional "Click and Clack" brothers' garage at "Car Talk Plaza". The ten episodes aired in July and August 2008.[23]

Car Talk: The Musical!!! was written and directed by Wesley Savick, and composed by Michael Wartofsky. The adaptation was presented by Suffolk University, and opened on March 31, 2011, at the Modern Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts.[24] The play was not officially endorsed by the Magliozzis, but they participated in the production, lending their voices to a central puppet character named "The Wizard of Cahs".[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BJ Leiderman, NPR Biography". NPR. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  2. ^ a b c d Bauder, David (8 June 2012). "NPR 'Car Talk' duo retiring; reruns to continue". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2012-06-23. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  3. ^ "Sirius XM's Public Radio Schedule". Sirius XM Radio. 
  4. ^ "Sirius XM's NPR Now Schedule". Sirius XM Radio. 
  5. ^ "NPR's Car Talk Listeners Pick Ugliest New Car". National Public Radio. 2005. Retrieved 2010-12-07. "Car Talk is public radio's most popular entertainment program, airing on nearly 600 stations with more than 4.4 million listeners a week tuning in for an hour-long tune-up on car advice and humor." 
  6. ^ "NPR Programs Attract Record-Breaking Audiences Public Radio Listenership at All-Time High". National Public Radio. 2002. Retrieved 2008-12-17. "Growth in the NPR news/talk audience outpaced similar gains realized by commercial news/talk radio." 
  7. ^ "Music on the Show". 
  8. ^ a b "Car Talk Official FAQs". Car Talk. Retrieved 2007-04-15. 
  9. ^ Mayer, Doug. "Car Talk Forums:Old Callers". 
  10. ^ "Puzzler", Car Talk website
  11. ^ "Kieran Lindsey - People Search | Virginia Tech". Search.vt.edu. Retrieved 2012-08-09. "Kieran Jane Lindsey; Director, Natural Resources Distance Learning Corsortium, College of Natural Resources & Env." 
  12. ^ Girl Scouts: Beyond Campfires and Cookies. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. October 29, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-09. "Answering questions like how to remove a snake from your car, urban wildlife biologist Kieran Lindsey (Virginia Tech) is the new official Animal-Vehicle Biologist and Wildlife Guru for Car Talk on NPR. Lindsey offers tips for how those of us living in cities and suburbs can reconnect with the wildlife around us—what she calls “next-door nature.”" 
  13. ^ "Tom and Ray, the Tappet Brothers, are exhausted". Seattle Times. 2012-06-16. Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  14. ^ "Music on the Show". cartalk.com. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  15. ^ "Help Us Help Henry 2010". cartalk.com. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  16. ^ Nix, Carly. "Who's the real "High Voltage" at Car Talk Plaza?". cartalk.com. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  17. ^ "Car Talk Credits". Car Talk. Retrieved 2007-04-15. 
  18. ^ Cars at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on June 25, 2007
  19. ^ "1963 Dodge Dart test notes". Car Talk. Retrieved 2007-04-15. 
  20. ^ }"Car Talk". George Foster Peabody Awards. 1992. Retrieved 2013-08-29. 
  21. ^ "Car Talk Guys Are Retiring, But Their Best Stuff Will Be Rebroadcast". 
  22. ^ "PBS Greenlights 'Car Talk' Television Series". 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  23. ^ McDonough, Kevin (2008-07-09). "TV Guy: Cartoon series stars Click and Click". Times Herald-Record. 
  24. ^ Brown, Joel (2011-03-29). "Suffolk players get a lot of mileage out of 'Car Talk'". Boston Globe. 
  25. ^ "Suffolk University presents Car Talk: The Musical!!! Closes 4/3". Broadway World. 2011-04-03. 

External links[edit]