BOSTON (AP) - “Car Talk” co-host Tom Magliozzi won’t be dispensing automotive advice from the grave as some newspapers feared.
Magliozzi, who hosted the hugely popular public radio show with his brother, died Nov. 3. After his death, New York-based King Features Syndicate suggested the brothers’ newspaper column might continue to list both Tom and Ray Magliozzi as co-creators.
Some newspaper editors nationwide threatened to cancel the “Click and Clack” column. Providence Journal executive editor Karen Bordeleau said she worried about the ethics of having it appear as though Tom Magliozzi was still answering readers’ questions.
“We were very concerned about the ethical implications of printing a column that purported to have two people chatting about cars - when one of them was clearly dead,” Bordeleau said. “Our brand is accuracy - and that didn’t sit well with us.”
King Features managing editor Glenn Mott said Thursday the syndicate worked closely with concerned editors to solicit their feedback. He said the column will make it clear that only Ray Magliozzi is writing.
“It was a creative dilemma,” he told The Associated Press. “You’ve got an iconographic format - the fast badinage of the duo. Ray had to consider how he would go forward with that.”
Tom Magliozzi, a Boston-area mechanic and MIT graduate, was 77 when he died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. “Car Talk,” which dispensed advice about repairing cars mixed generously with sharp one-liners, self-deprecating humor and off-topic digressions on philosophy and the mysteries of life, reached more than 4 million listeners a week at its peak.
The duo, who called themselves “Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers,” ended each show with the catchphrase, “Don’t drive like my brother,” delivered in their signature Boston accents. Their nationally syndicated newspaper column debuted in 1989.
When Tom died, King Features said it conferred with Ray, who intended to keep the column in the same Q&A format as a tribute to his brother. “Ray has told us that he is sure his brother would want him to continue helping people with their car problems and making them laugh,” the syndicate said earlier this month.
Kim Christ, senior features editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, said her paper had planned to drop the column if it were written as though the late Magliozzi was still contributing answers.
That won’t happen, Mott said, though he hopes the feature will continue to capture the duo’s spirit.
“The place in the culture for ‘Car Talk’ has been huge,” he said. “The brothers are irreplaceable. There’s no doubt about that.”
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