Tom Magliozzi, co-host of 'Car Talk,' dies at 77

Brothers Ray and Tom Magliozzi. Car Talk/NPR

Tom Magliozzi, half of the hosting team for the long-running NPR show "Car Talk," is being called today one of public radio's most popular personalities. He had Alzheimer's Disease, though not many of his fans probably knew it. "Car Talk" executive producer Doug Berman announced the death via email.

I have the sad duty to report today that Tom Magliozzi, one of the hosts of Car Talk, passed away this morning due to complications of Alzheimer's Disease.

Tom's been such a dominant, positive personality amongst us for so long that all of us in the public radio family — and I include our millions of listeners — will find this news very difficult to receive.

Magliozzi and his younger brother, Ray, began the show in 1977 at Boston's WBUR, where Berman was news director. "Car Talk" moved to the NPR network ten years later and became a weekend staple of stations around the country. The brothers stopped producing new shows in 2012; those still airing on NPR affiliates are re-runs.

From NPR's Lynn Neary:

Tom and his brother, Ray, became famous as "Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers" on the weekly NPR show Car Talk. They bantered, told jokes, laughed and sometimes even gave pretty good advice to listeners who called in with their car troubles....

The Magliozzi brothers grew up in a tough neighborhood of East Cambridge, Mass., in a close-knit Italian family. Tom was 12 years older, the beloved older brother to Ray. They liked to act like they were just a couple of regular guys who happened to be mechanics, but both of them graduated from MIT.

After getting out of college, Tom Magliozzi went to work as an engineer. One day he had a kind of epiphany, he told graduates when he and Ray gave the 1999 commencement address at their alma mater.

He was on his way to work when he had a near-fatal accident with a tractor-trailer. He pulled off the road and decided to do something different with his life.

"I quit my job," he said. "I became a bum. I spent two years sitting in Harvard Square drinking coffee. I invented the concept of the do-it-yourself auto repair shop, and I met my lovely wife."

Well, he wasn't exactly a bum; he worked as a consultant and college professor, eventually getting a doctoral degree in marketing. And Tom and Ray Magliozzi did open that do-it-yourself repair shop in the early '70s. They called it Hackers Haven. Later they opened a more traditional car repair shop called the Good News Garage.

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent stories on LA Observed:
Doug Jeffe: a remembrance
'In on merit' at USC
How to escape social grit and grime: hear the music, see the dance
Ed Ruscha and Kent Twitchell
Inequality and city hall in Los Angeles
Fallen tree
Why aren't LA's blocks in CTG's 'Block Party'?
Politicians, pay your bill