Radio Daze

Retro styled image of an old car radio
Old cars, old radios, new ideas, and great humor equal Tom and Ray. –

 Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Early this morning when I deemed it far to soon to abandon my bed, I found myself listening to homage on NPR’s Fresh Air. This particular one featured vignettes from a 2001 interview Terry Gross did with Tom and Ray Magliozzi from their NPR radio show, Car Talk. Although I had previously heard this tribute to Tom Magliozzi, I enjoyed hearing it all again. Tom Magliozzi died in November 2014 of “complications from Alzheimer’s”, according to the broadcast, but I can hear him once a week, and I am not talking about via paranormal experience.

On the weekends, I continue to tune in to Car Talk on NPR. Rechristened The Best of Car Talk, my education persists regarding cars and all sorts of non-car related subjects, courtesy of the Magliozzi Brothers. Those two MIT graduates were inspired and inspiring. According to those who knew Tom and know Ray, the Italian brothers really were the “real deal”, which is most refreshing. Ray still broadcasts commercials prior to the weekend shows, which makes me feel close to him, not in a creepy way, but in a friend kind of manner. Even though he resides in the environs of Cambridge, Massachusetts, or maybe still in their “fair city” of Cambridge, he’s close to my ear because of the radio.

Oh, and I absolutely love their accents! Those Cambridge intonations, vernacular, and language rhythms resonate with me. Not that I could emulate their sound, no, that is their unique mode of expression. I merely kick back and drink in their brash sound, made all the more vivid because of Tom’s cackle one-of-a-kind laugher.

In addition to learning about cars, I always feel better just listening to Tom and Ray. They are creative, funny, insightful, caring, and are good brothers to one another. Over the years, they have impressed me with their sense of family and their loyalty to friends. My impression is that their radio broadcast team and their long-time producer, Doug Berman, functioned like the Magliozzi’s surrogate radio family. One memorable broadcast included a hilarious segment on how the Magliozzi brothers planned a winter getaway trip to sunny Florida for their radio entourage. Ray became so ill before the trip, his doctor forbade him to go. He asked his brother Tommy to think of him on the trip, and did “Tommy” ever!

Maybe it is their breadth of knowledge, their means of extracting humor from seemingly impossible situations, and their ability to chase away the blues that draws me to Car Talk and to Ray’s continued presence. The world makes sense again to me every weekend with Car Talk.

Ciao for now.

Post-Thanksgiving Reflections


By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Thanksgiving Day let me escape the flooded kitchen disaster. I awakened knowing I didn’t have to spring out of bed to bake and cook felt liberating. I needed only the Whole Foods apple pie and the bottle of Prosecco to our hosts. Our friendship has been an enduring one for over 25 years. The day was filled with banter, cheer, flowing drinks, a delicious dinner, and food we later grazed on into the night.

Entering the kitchen that night didn’t bother me much, probably because of all the alcohol I had imbibed. The morning after proved another story: the kitchen remained in peril from the water disaster. I contacted a service that works 24/7, except holidays. My kitchen emergency got squeezed in the schedule. It felt like the cavalry was on its way.

Growing up, my father always kept a dozen live chickens. He believed in the healthy power of fresh eggs. In addition to their regular mash, the chickens ate potato peels, their own eggshells, and bits of bread, you name it. There was little need for an in-sink disposal. With this latest crisis on my home front, I’ve thought about how composting might be an improvement on the electric disposal. Dependency on electronic devices makes me chafe more than ever. The Magliozzi Brothers’ “Car Talk” program on NPR, even in podcast form, has widened my knowledge of cars. Ray Magliozzi, and his late brother Tom, talk about how in the 1970’s people could still work on their cars. Now, with the computerized gizmos and programming of cars, consumers are forced to take their vehicles into a mechanic. That rang in my ears as I wept over an enormous car bill this week.

Are we to be at the mercy of technicians for automotive needs, for household plumbing, electric, and media issues? Since I am not a plumber, electrician, mechanic, or computer engineer, the answer is a forlorn, yes. I envision if I marry again, I should marry an individual who can fix things, like a mechanical engineer. Perhaps the alternative is not to have all the kitchen appliances and disposal, or the computer devices we depend upon.

Forego all those shiny electronics? I’ll have to take it under consideration.

Ciao for now.