BOSTON (AP) – Tom Magliozzi, one half of the brother duo who hosted National Public Radio’s “Car Talk” where they bantered with callers and commiserated over their car problems, died Monday of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, the news organization said. He was 77 years old.
“Car Talk” was NPR’s most popular entertainment program for years, reaching more than 4 million people a week on more than 600 radio stations across the country.
It continued to be a top-rated show even after the brothers stopped taping live shows in 2012, and the network began airing repurposed and archived materials.
Car Talk Executive Producer Doug Berman, in a statement posted on NPR’s website, said Magliozzi’s “dominant, positive personality” will be missed.
“He and his brother changed public broadcasting forever,” he said. “Before Car Talk, NPR was formal, polite, cautious..even stiff.”
The duo, which called themselves “Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers,” dispensed humor and advice about repairing cars. They ended their shows with a catchphrase – “Don’t drive like my brother” – delivered in their signature Boston accents.
In a statement posted on Car Talk’s website, Ray Magliozzi affectionately teased his late brother, who was 12 years his senior: “Turns out he wasn’t kidding…He really couldn’t remember last week’s puzzler.”
The Magliozzis were an unlikely radio duo.
The Cambridge, Mass. mechanics and Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates began their show on WBUR, Boston’s NPR affiliate, in 1977 as volunteers. The weekly program became nationally-broadcast starting in 1987 after building a steady local following.
Magliozzi was born June 28, 1937, in a largely Italian-American section of East Cambridge. According to NPR, he was the first in his family to attend college, earning a Chemical Engineering degree from MIT.
Magliozzi is survived by his first and second wives, three children, five grandchildren, and his close companion of recent years, Sylvia Soderberg, NPR said in a statement. In lieu of followers, the family has requested fans make a donation in his memory to either their local NPR station or the Alzheimer’s Association.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.