Re-Runs Repeats and a response from "Web Lackey" Doug Mayer to Archival Material Being Aired

From: David Lichman


Listeners would like to know why, after the summer re-run season is over, we are still hearing re-runs?

On Nov 1, 2011, at 1:10 PM, Doug Mayer wrote:

Hi David,

Yes, the guys are getting lazier than ever, and are doing fewer shows than they used to. So we are plucking more great material from our 23 years of archives these days. And what you’ve heard was a mixture of new stuff and archival stuff.

We’re not trying to hide the fact that it’s not a new program, we’re just trying to put out the most entertaining hour of Car Talk we can. And the problem with including an announcement is that the explanation itself is kind of confusing. Much of the material is, in fact, taken from the archives. But some of it is new and updated. What we air is actually a mix… stuff from the archives, with some new stuff and new transitions. That’s a hard thing to explain in one line at the top of the show. So we’ve opted to just air the show and hope it’s fun to listen to. It is for us here at Car Talk Plaza, so we figure it will be for others.

We are still recording new shows and I’m sure you’ll be hearing one soon.

All Best,

Doug Mayer
Car Talk

On Nov 1, 2011, at 4:38 PM, David Lichman wrote:

Thanks for the reply! I love the guys. I grew up in and around Boston - I remember Good News Garage “do it yourself repair-bay & tool rental” with free advice.

Do you mind if I copy your reply to the Car Talk forums where folks keep inquiring? I think honesty will go a long way.

What’s frustrating is trying to imagine someone still driving a 20 year-old Toyota Corolla, or harder still that it might only have 37,000 miles on it!

How about a one-liner: “Portions of this show are encore presentations from the Car Talk archives.”


“Some of the calls in today’s show have been recycled from previous shows.”

Let the guys know we love them.


On Nov 1, 2011, at 1:45 PM, Doug Mayer wrote:

Of course- feel free to share, David. Glad you remember the old days of GNG. (In fact, it was Hacker’s Haven in the very early days, if you were around then.)

I’ll pass the suggestions below along to the rest of the crew here. We all appreciate and take into consideration the various comments and feedback that we receive.

Best from Car Talk Plaza,

Doug M

Good-bye Car Talk.

In other news, these guys I know, who have a sweet gig only working a couple hours a week, need time off, making the working stiffs that spend 40 hours a week at work feel stupid.

If they aren’t willing to do the job, they should pass the torch. In the meantime, I am going to stop listening. Let us know if they decide to produce all new shows, and I’ll start listening again.

Who are they going to pass the torch to? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ll do it, but I don’t have the right accent or the raucous laugh. In short, once the Brothers decide to stop doing the show, I doubt they’ll find replacements.

I think they should start now. They should bring in a young protégé, and make it a threesome. That way, the protégé can eventually take some of the new calls without the brothers there. They can phase the protégé in over time, look at how he or she does, and if necessary, find a better replacement.

You’re right, replacing Tom and Ray would be a bad idea, but if they introduce someone new, and eventually phase themselves out, they can keep most of their following.

The non-touring sound effects guy from A Prairie Home Companion is dead. Stuff happens.

More blatantly recycled material aired this morning in the form of a caller from Texas whose Isuzu regularly croaks whenever she drives past a certain spot on a local road. This was previously broadcast back in 2001. How about some new stuff, huh?

The following was posted in an on-line forum on December 27, 2001

Radar site may be key to car woes
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

A mysterious coincidence has the hosts of a national talk show guessing at the problem and the solution.

As far as anyone can tell, there are no little green beings hiding in this city. Nor are there mysterious spinning spacecraft. But something strange is afoot.

Just ask resident Amy Johnson.

Amy Johnson and friend Jodi Johnson have encountered the same problem in the same section of Keller Smithfield Road. Their vehicles have sputtered and died.

As far as Johnson and Johnson can tell, there are two common factors: They both drive Isuzu sport utility vehicles, and they both pass a large white ball perched atop a small building along the road.

The ball has such a dramatic effect on their vehicles that the two women avoid the road even though it is the shortest way home, they say.

Amy Johnson turned to brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi, who, under the pseudonyms Click and Clack, host Car Talk, a popular talk show on National Public Radio that deals with automobiles.

“If I drive on the side of the street that the ball is, the car completely dies. You just coast on through and have to steer your way off the road,” she lamented to the Magliozzis. When she drives on the side of the road farthest from the white sphere, her lights flicker, Johnson said.

The Magliozzis’ initial response: “Is there a sign that says `Area 51’?”

There is a sign, but it says “FAA.” The ball is a powerful radar device covered with a white dome. It is part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Route Surveillance Radar (ARSA) system, and it tracks airplanes flying to or from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. FAA officials who are knowledgeable about the radar could not be reached to comment (no surprise here!!).

Isuzu officials said strong radio signals generated by the radar cause engines in some Isuzus to skip a beat. The situation is unusual, but it has occurred before, Isuzu spokesman Chip Letzkus said.

“Sometimes it happens near military bases. Sometimes it happens near airports,” he said. “It’s a very rare problem.”

Waves from the radar interfere with signals sent from a component in the vehicle’s engine to a computer that operates the engine, Letzkus said. The signals tell the engine how fast the vehicle is going, and the computer adjusts accordingly. When the signals are disrupted, the engine stalls.

Each vehicle needs a shield that protects the sensor from interference, Letzkus said. Isuzu, which recognized the problem after 1997, will install the shield for free, he said. The company has begun adding the shield as a standard engine part, but it has taken awhile [sic] for all Isuzu plants to include the protective part.

“There is nothing sinister going on here,” Letzkus said. “It’s not difficult to fix.”

Amy Johnson said her problems began in July after she moved to Keller. She said she almost immediately noticed the eerie behavior of her 2000 Isuzu Rodeo whenever she drove past the gigantic “golf ball.” At first, the lights flickered on her dashboard.

“I didn’t think that much about it,” she said. “I was a little too casual.”

Then, her SUV stalled. She maneuvered it into a fire station parking lot nearby and called for help.

When friend Jodi Johnson arrived in her 2000 Isuzu Trooper, she suggested that Amy Johnson try starting her vehicle. Amy Johnson did and began to drive home.

“I was driving down the road, and I looked in my rearview mirror, and she was not there,” Amy Johnson said.

Jodi Johnson’s Isuzu had stalled. The rescuer needed a rescue herself.

Eventually, both made it away from the area.

After learning about Amy Johnson’s problem, Click and Clack suggested that she dress in Army fatigues and penetrate the radar’s defenses in an attempt to see what the government is up to. They then suggested an experiment: Wrap the front fender in tinfoil to repel the waves.

A thoughtful suggestion, Jodi Johnson said, but not quite what she had in mind.

“Like I’m going to drive every morning with tinfoil on my car,” she said. “That’s just not a solution we’re looking for.”

Amy Johnson’s seven-minute segment on Car Talk generated dozens of email messages offering solutions to the problem and speculation about the white orb.

Some suggested renting spacesuits. Others asked, Why stop at the fender, when you can cover the whole vehicle in tinfoil?

“It’s really funny,” Amy Johnson said. “No men in black have shown up at the house. There’s nothing sinister. Just the Isuzu.”

Amy Johnson said she is considering reappearing on Car Talk for the show’s “Stump the Chumps” segment.

The show airs at 10 a.m. Saturday and at noon Sunday on KERA/90.1 FM.

Kelly Melhart, (817) 685-3821

So, clearly this problem was resolved by the manufacturer a decade ago. How about getting off your lazy butts and giving us current material!!!

At a time when NPR is struggling for financing, Tom and Ray really shouldn’t be giving people another reason not to donate.

Ironically, during Pledge Week, all the NPR spoken word shows (Car Talk, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Prairie Home Companion, This American Life, etc.) are made up of … guess what? Reruns.

I realized long ago the TRUTH about CarTalk.

I was driving home from Michigan to Arkansas to attend my 25th anniversary high school reunion in 1989. Saturday evening I was driving across Missouri; as an alternative to televangelists or country and western, I tuned in the show from a St. Louis station. As I drove west the station faded as I got out of range; twiddling the dial in the low end of the FM band (where NPR stations tend to cluster) I found another NPR station and…


To my dismay, I realized the grim truth. I’d been in Cambridge. I knew what was in Harvard Square: the notorious Hasty Pudding Theatricals. Harvard students. Harvard ex-students. Out of work actors. Out of work would-be actors… that’s when it came to me:

None of the questions are real. None of the calls are live. They’re all pre-recorded. laugh track included! They always have been!

After this realization, I sold my car and hitchhiked to Idaho, where I live in a cabin miles from any highway, safe from any contact with automobiles.

I realized long ago the TRUTH about CarTalk.

I realized long ago the TRUTH about CarTalk.

Click and Clack are irreplaceable IMO. Admittedly the show has always been a bit sneaky about it not being live, although anyone can figure it out easily enough by calling the number. They are continuing in that tradition with the hybrid of old and new bits. Bottom line, it’s still entertaining. They deserve to cut back after all these years.

They could start each show saying “In order to help the environment, the following show contains at least 50% recycled material from previously aired shows.”

I agree (albeit late): the shows entertaining and I enjoy it. But I felt offended by hearing a repeat a couple of week ago. It was the first call I ever heard on Car Talk, aired in 2008. Come on guys, stop cheating!!

I agree with Hybrid314, just mention they use recycled material. Why are they not just honest about it? Everyone understands Tom and Ray want to take it easy, so just say so.

I also liked the idea of getting a new host on the show and him being introduced by Tom and Ray. Otherwise we’ll be hearing nothing but repeats in a few years.

Car Talk is a one off. When the wax cylinder runs to its scratchy end on the last show, it will be over, no replacement will be able to pull off what T&R did. Something might replace it but it will be completely different and I’m sure not acceptable to those who love to hate The Show. The problem with any format that deals in basics is keeping the regulars interested without going over the heads of the new or casual participant. A fifth half of the show dedicated to Advanced Listeners where “Today Jed wants to talk about the thermodynamics of the Wankle verses Otto cycle” will have everybody’s eyes rolled back. The Car Talk concept might live on in the forum, but as one sage contributor put it, it’s awful tiresome dealing with the same old questions. Imagine doing it for 35 years and keeping it entertaining.

I am in agreement about the problems of presenting the basics over and over again… even with the boys in place it can be tiresome for the advanced listener. But of course they never cease to make it fun. I do believe, however, that there IS or ARE some successors with great wit and knowledge out there ready to take the helm… dml

But the thing is someone screens their calls. They choose the topics. They get to pick the interesting calls, so I have to wonder why they would choose to answer the same old boring questions. The same goes for their newspaper column.

I think the current format works. Why fix it if it isn’t broken.

The show is both informative and entertaining. And that’s exactly what it is supposed to be. Every once is a while I hear a segment I rmember I heard before, but the show is still fun to listen to even so.

Nothing needs to be changed. Some old, some new. Whatever combo is the most entertaining and informative for the week’s show. No announcements necessary; and any announcement made would simply be confusing, take time away from the guy’s riffing with each other, and would contribute nothing of value to the show.

Keep things the way they are.

They could try out their kids on the show, maybe one or two of them inherited their dads wit and humor.

If the Car Talk staff is looking for suggestions to improve Car Talk, here’s mine

Avoid celebrity callers. They’re boring. Sorry, but they are. People who call to ask if it’s ok to fix the leak in their radiator hose with duct tape, that makes for an interesting call. A celebrity asking whether to buy an Escalade or a Bentley to chauffer their dogs to the dog park? Boring.