Tom Magliozzi: As Warm In Real Life As He Was On The Radio NPR's Susan Stamberg shares the blame for putting the Car Talk host on the air. She looks back on good times spent with the Magliozzi family and Tom, who died on Monday.
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Tom Magliozzi: As Warm In Real Life As He Was On The Radio

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Tom Magliozzi: As Warm In Real Life As He Was On The Radio

Tom Magliozzi: As Warm In Real Life As He Was On The Radio

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Tom Magliozzi was one of public radio's most beloved figures. With his younger brother, Ray, he was half of the Car Talk team of Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers. Tom Magliozzi died this morning, at his home outside Boston, from complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was 77. NPR's Susan Stamberg has this tribute.

SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: I had what the guys would call the dubious distinction of putting Tom - his brother Ray said Thomas - on NPR's air. For 10 years, they had had a weekly program on WBUR in Boston. In 1987, when we were launching Weekend Edition Sunday, we asked stations for tapes of local programs that might work nationally.

BUR sent cassettes of Tom and Ray, and their five-minute spots became the hit of Sunday mornings. As host, I got in on their act, chatting with them and their call-in guests. At first, that format made them uneasy. They'd been doing just fine for 10 years. Who needed some New York broad horning in? What won them over, especially Thomas, was when I told them I owned a 1974 Dodge Dart, Slant Six - seemed that was the car of Tom's heart. He decided I was OK; let's make radio together.

Funny and smart and bighearted, Tom was as warm in real life as he was on the radio. They invited me up to their Good News Garage in Cambridge for a sock hop. His wife, Joanne, made me a poodle skirt. Tom was the perfect host, welcoming, gracious and so generous and good spirited. I loved his relationship with his brother. You could imagine him and Ray at age 6, sitting at the dinner table, swapping smart remarks and opinions and car obsessions.

You knew he had grown up in a loving place with parents who got a kick out of him - almost whatever he did. For Mother's Day one year on Weekend Sunday, I phoned Mama Magliozzi to talk about her sons. Aren't you just thrilled by how successful they are? Successful, she snorted lovingly, you've got to be kidding. Well, I wasn't. And I'm not.

Thomas Louis Magliozzi was a success in pretty much everything that counts - a loving son, a beloved brother's other half, his sister Lulu's best teaser, husband, father of two, teacher, marketing at various Boston colleges, mechanic and a man who could make everyone who heard or met him smile. I'm Susan Stamberg.

CORNISH: You can read tributes from listeners and add your own on the Car Talk website. It's cartalk.com.

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