Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Car Talk is a radio talk show broadcast weekly on National Public Radio stations throughout the United States and elsewhere. Its hosts are brothers Ray and Tom Magliozzi (aka, 'Click' and 'Clack', 'The Tappet Brothers'), two long-time mechanics. Ray Magliozzi has a degree in general science from MIT, while Tom has a degree in chemical engineering from MIT.
Listeners call in with a range of somewhat car-related problems, from simple mechanical failures to questions that begin "My husband wants..." or "My girlfriend...".
The show could be a described as a talk radio program about cars that happens to be funny, or it could be just as accurately described as a comedy show that happens to accept calls about cars. Tom and Ray (well, mostly Tom) are known for long rants on the evils of the internal combustion engine, the state of Montana, people who talk on cell phones while driving, women named Donna (who always seem to drive Camaros), the use (or misuse) of the English language, and just about anything else, including themselves. They have a laid-back humorous approach to cars, car repair, cup holder competition amongst car makers, cats, dogs, lawyers, car mechanics, mini-vans, SUVs, and most everything else. They often cast a critical insider's eye (jaundiced, mostly) towards the auto industry. The show also has a commitment to public service, albeit in a Tappet Brothers way. For instance, there has been a long-running effort to "Save the Skeets".
And they do it all in 'Massachusettesian mechanic', a variety of English which must be heard to be appreciated.
Each show opens with a comedic, often car-related monologue. In between eight call-in sessions, there is a constant section called the "Puzzler" in which a new puzzle (sometimes car-related, often not) and the answer to the previous Puzzler are given to listeners. A recurring feature is "Stump the Chumps", in which the hosts revisit a caller from a previous show and find out what effect, if any, their advice has had (assuming the caller followed it at all).
A similar feature was started in May 2001 and entitled "Where Are They Now, Tommy?" Like "Stump the Chumps", they revisited a previous caller; but the difference with "Where Are They Now...?" was best described by Tom as "an excuse to talk to some of the previous wack jobs we've had on the show." The feature was short-lived, lasting only a few months, possibly because they had run out of callers from Alaska to harass.
Celebrities have been callers as well. Examples include Morley Safer, Ashley Judd, Gordon Elliott, and at least one space shuttle astronaut. There have been numerous appearances from NPR personalities, including Bob Edwards, Susan Stamberg , Scott Simon , Ray Suarez, Will Shortz, and commentator/author Daniel Pinkwater. On one occasion, the show featured an in-studio guest: Martha Stewart. Tom and Ray called her "Margaret" — twice.
The humor of Car Talk also extends into the end credits. The show is produced under the Magliozzi's corporate banner, Dewey, Cheetham, and Howe, which was their attorney firm's name in earlier years. After listing (and lampooning) the actual staff of Car Talk the brothers list a long series of unusual names (generally punny). "Paul Murky of Murky Research" and "statistician Marge Innovera" are only two of a long series of perennial "staffers" in the Car Talk credits. Doug "The subway fugitive" "not a slave to fashion" Berman really is still their producer Doug Berman, even though they refer to him that way at the end of each show.
The hosts operate the "Good News Garage" in Cambridge, Massachusetts just a few blocks north of the MIT campus. Their offices are located nearby at the corner of JFK St. and Brattle St. in Harvard Square.
The two were commencement speakers at MIT in 1999.
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