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Popular 'Car Talk' Co-Host Tom Magliozzi Dies At 77


And now this. Possibly, possibly the most recognizable sound on public radio.


TOM MAGLIOZZI: (Laughter).

RAY MAGLIOZZI: (Laughter).

GREENE: That laughter belongs to Tom Magliozzi and his brother, Ray, the Car Talk guys, a.k.a Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers.


Tom passed away yesterday. For decades tuning into Tom and Ray's NPR program, Car Talk, has been a weekend ritual for millions of Americans. Their specialty, cars, puns and not taking themselves seriously.

GREENE: Here they start out discussing why cigarette smokers have more car accidents.


T. MAGLIOZZI: Well, he speculates on what the answer is.

R. MAGLIOZZI: I know exactly the answer.

T. MAGLIOZZI: Go ahead, would do you think?

R. MAGLIOZZI: Well, if you were a smoker, you'd know.

T. MAGLIOZZI: I'm not, I mean - I'm pure.


T. MAGLIOZZI: I can breathe better. I can smell flowers.

R. MAGLIOZZI: I know. When I was a smoker...

T. MAGLIOZZI: And I eat more. I'm fatter, (laughter) and I'm dying for a cigarette.


GREENE: You know, in theory, the show was about cars - how to fix them, how to drive them - but really mostly it was about life. Here is Tom on the secret of a good marriage.


T. MAGLIOZZI: Whenever my wife and I have an argument, I'm always right. But being the clever fellow that I am, I never try to prove to her that I'm right, and she thinks that I'm a dummy because I'm always wrong. But she loves me.


MONTAGNE: Everyone knows Tom was no dummy. He and his little brother, Ray, both graduated from MIT, and their show started on NPR member station WBUR in Boston in the late 1970s. It was born out of their auto repair shop. Within a decade, it had gone national with a fast-growing cult following.

GREENE: In fact, the Car Talk guys were often cited as the gateway drug to NPR, getting people hooked. And they were the frequent lead-in to a more recent NPR fixture, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! with Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, BYLINE: They made it safe to be silly on public radio and showed that we're not all, you know, stiffs. They changed the tenor of public radio forever. Lord knows they made my show possible.

MONTAGNE: Peter Sagal says the brothers got their true personalities across to listeners. People loved spending time with them. And he says he was lucky to meet them and even make Tom and Ray laugh.

SAGAL: I was so proud, and then I realized they laugh at everything. But then I realized, no, it's still genuine. It's still laughter, and I participated in their sheer joy for a minute, and I will always treasure that. And I really am devastated by this loss.

GREENE: That's Peter Segal, host of NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, remembering Tom Magliozzi, one of the Car Talk brothers. He died yesterday due to complications from Alzheimer's. He was 77 years old. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.