Car Talk’s long goodbye


Let’s get something out of the way up front: Ray Magliozzi hates cars. And not in a my-car-is-a-pain-in-the-ass-and-it’s-always-breaking kind of way (though there is some of that too), but in a they’re-killing-the-planet kind of way. “How could you not?” Ray told me earlier this year. “They’re ruining the fabric of our lives.”

Ray says this as if it is the most obvious thing in the world. And it mostly is, of course, but it’s still funny to hear him say it, because for 35 years he co-hosted one of NPR’s most-listened to shows of all time, Car Talk.

Car Talk had a soothingly predictable quality to it. In the beginning, there would be corny jokes, then some callers, then a weekly brainteaser called the Puzzler, and then some more callers, and, before you knew it, it was over. They did this, brilliantly and seemingly effortlessly, for decades, reaching over four million listeners at their peak. It had a surprisingly wide appeal; non-car enthusiasts, and certainly non-car people, will often gush about how much they loved the show.

I know literally next to nothing about cars – I don’t even bother lifting the hood if something is wrong because I don’t know a thing about what goes on under there – but I loved listening to the Magliozzi brothers.