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Former TPR General Manager Remembers Tom Magliozzi, Origins Of "Car Talk"


Local reaction to the passing of Car Talk Co-Host Tom Magliozzi includes that of Joe Gwathmey, General Manager of Texas Public Radio from 1988-2006. Gwathmey is the broadcast executive who gave NPR a home in San Antonio – and also put "Car Talk" on the air.

Gwathmey was building NPR’s presence in San Antonio in 1988, but just a year earlier, he was the Vice-president of Programming at NPR in Washington. He said host Susan Stamberg brought him an idea about a Boston radio show where two brothers used comedy to talk about fixing cars. 

"I was open to nearly any suggestion in those days and said I would at least take a listen and see what I thought. We got a tape sample of one of their shows -- and I was appalled," Gwathmey said. "I thought it was a joke."

Gwathmey says in time, he came to understand the jokes were part of the shtick. The Magliozzi brothers had both graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and they knew about cars.

"They also really did have a garage in Cambridge. As I understand it, initially, it was a place you could take your car and you could work on it yourself, and they would offer advice if you asked them," he said. 

Gwathmey now says he’s glad Stamberg suggested the pair and is proud that he put Car Talk into national distribution.