Many know I’ve been openly critical of National Public Radio. Repeatable fund drives, program reductions and staff cuts have moved NPR from frontline coverage to news with a ‘homey spin,’ one palatable for a broader audience, yet unremarkable in almost every way. I’ve detested rebroadcasting programs, where unaired or anciently aired programs are recycled for panhandling purposes.
Notwithstanding, as the comedic duo of Car Talk signed off in October 2012, I knew such a week was forthcoming. Simple deduction concludes one broadcaster was ill, for how would anyone surrender the love of rich vibrant laughter. I am saddened by the death of Tom Magliozzi, passing from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
I was introduced to Car Talk thirty-years ago. Having made a living in the car industry for twelve years, I openly admit to knowing little about cars. Regardless of how hard my father tried, his effort remained futile. There was little, if any knowledge osmosis. However, Tom and Ray never seemed old. Tom was a true enthusiast, if not eccentric car aficionado, who mixed understanding against the limits of technology.
NPR’s Susan Stamberg captured Mr. Magliozzi’s essence best:
“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. He was a husband, a father of two, a teacher (of marketing, at various Boston colleges), a mechanic and a man who could make everyone who heard or met him smile.”
Adding to Ms. Stamberg’s thoughts, that for all his shortcomings and faults, Tom had a life well-lived.
Tom Magliozzi was able to touch the soul of others. As such, he and Ray walked fertile holy ground through humor and laughter. While listeners spent time on the urgent, Tom helped us focus on the important. And for a short time in this world, Car Talk held the glue of life – love, the foundational principle holding all relationships.
From a Buddhist perspective, it’s no small task to be both brilliant and relatable, to be a legend and approachable. As a listener, Tom had an amazing gift to leave listeners feeling better. It wasn’t easy, he just made it look that way.
To those who knew Tom, there is little I can say. Quoting President Lincoln:
“I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming.”
Like Mr. Magliozzi all of us need to leave legacies. We need lives well-lived. To our benefit, all of us had Tom. If God were here I know what He’d say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”