Friday, September 28, 2012

Goodbye 'Car Talk,' Hello 'Everywhere' Radio?

The famous "Car Talk" brothers are shutting down their beloved public radio show, but this does not mark the end of the radio era, say executives. 
After 35 years of supplying advice and laughter to roughly 3.3 million listeners via 660 radio stations per week, NPR’s hit series Car Talk will stop producing new shows this month.  
The radio talk show, hosted by brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi, has been “culturally right up there with Mark Twain and the Marx Brothers," according to Doug Berman, executive producer of Car Talk. But despite the show's 25 years of success and timeless quality, , hosts Tom, 74, and Ray, 63, have decided -- due to their advancing ages --  that it is “time to get even lazier." 
NPR has announced that Car Talk will cease producing new episodes at the end of September, so presumably this weekend, but the station will continue to broadcast reruns of Car Talk until, we assume, the show stops bringing in listeners. Car Talk reruns will run on NPR often, but not necessarily in the same prime time slots. "We're hoping to be like I Love Lucy” and air ten times a day on NPR at Nite in 2075," Tom told ABC World News. 
The premise of Car Talk is simple: The two mechanics dispense wisdom -- regarding car problems, primarily, but also about relationship issues sparked by automobile malfunctions -- to individual callers across the US and Canada. However, Tom and Ray are not your average mechanics. Both graduates of MIT, the brothers decided to open up a DIY car shop originally named Hackers Haven in 1973, selling car parts to non-mechanics while also teaching lay people how to install the equipment. When this operation proved unsuccessful, the brothers decided to open up a classic repair shop they called Good News Garage in 1977. 
That same year, WBUR, an NPR affiliate in Boston, asked the Magliozzi brothers to sit on a panel of automobile specialists. It was from this one-time appearance that NPR discovered the duo and their ability to mix auto advice with comedy. Soon after, the show Car Talk came to life. Hosts Ray and Tom took on the nicknames Click and Clack, in homage to the old, worn-out vehicles discussed on the program. Their ability to diagnose issues based on general descriptions and, in many cases, sound effects, was uncanny. 
In their 35 years on the radio and 25 years at NPR, the Magliozzi brothers have become a staple in the lives of many radio listeners, even among urbanites who don't drive or even own vehicles. “Grim news indeed,” said one fan in a Tweet after hearing that Car Talk would no longer be airing new episodes come fall. He continued, “I am mourning Click and Clack’s announcement on several levels. Most obviously, the retirement leaves a gaping void in the NPR community.” 
So what does the end of Car Talk mean in the age of new media?

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