They were a couple of auto mechanics with a pronounced Boston brogue and, improbably, degrees from MIT. They hadn’t a clue how to perform on radio, much less public radio.
So Tom and Ray Magliozzi just decided to have a good time. The result was “Car Talk,” which shattered the perception that public radio is inaccessible to the masses and became National Public Radio’s top-rated weekend show.
After 35 years on the air, the brothers announced Friday that the run was ending. No longer would they be dishing on cars so old that their odometers switched to scientific notation or delivering gift advice to VW Bus lovers. The show informally known as “Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers” will tape its final original show this fall.
Declaring that “even one hour a week is too much” work, the comedian-mechanics said it was time to “stop and smell the cappuccino” instead of inhaling exhaust. The call-in show is syndicated on 660 radio stations and is heard by 3.3 million listeners weekly.
more on this story – Hosts put the brakes on NPR’s ‘Car Talk’
An excerpt from the interview:
Q: You’re a self-professed “NPR groupie.” What do you listen to?
A: Morning Edition is kind of on every day. I’m a big fan of Weekend Edition Saturday, as well as a lot of the music programs. I’m a follower of most all of the programs, so I didn’t walk into the job saying, “What’s that show? I never heard of that before.” What’s been fun is meeting all these personalities I’ve listened to over the years.
Q: From Big Bird to a big undertaking. What prompted you to take this job?
A: I felt like I had one more big thing left to do, and I only wanted to go to an organization that would have an even greater impact than the one I was in. NPR is one of those places. It’s a very powerful brand that has high emotional value—mostly positive, some a little negative—and a fan base that is very dedicated. I’ve done a lot of work running a global media company, taking them through this digital transition, which is affecting all media. So I just decided, let’s take a shot at this. I’m not naïve about it. But I’m excited about the challenge.
Rocked by controversy in 2011, including the resignation of its chief executive, NPR launched a search for a new president and CEO. They found public television veteran Gary Knell ’75, who was tapped to lead the venerable public radio operation in October. The former CEO of Sesame Workshop, Knell helped turn Sesame Street into a more global brand, ushering the iconic children’s TV program into the digital age. Similar change is in the air for NPR’s 26 million-plus listeners with Knell at the helm.
Read more of the interview – UCLA Magazine – New Head of NPR
In a way, radio is the perfect user interface. Turn it on, and It Just Works.
This week, NPR unveiled Infinite Player, a web app that mimics the simplicity of radio, but with a personalized twist. Press play to hear the latest NPR newscast, followed by a never-ending playlist of random feature stories. It doesn’t stop till you turn it off, just like the radio.
Optionally, click “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” while listening and a secret algorithm adapts to your preferences. If you like a science story, you’re likely to hear more science stories. (The developers won’t divulge the recipe.)
Yep, it’s like Pandora for public radio.
Check out the Infinite Player and remember it only works in Safari and Chrome.