The Joy of Car Talk

Can’t stop thinking about today’s announcement: That Tom and Ray Magliozzi of Car Talk fame are retiring.

Anne and I have listened to Car Talk almost religiously on Saturday mornings for years. Tom and Ray have been a joy because…

  1. They’re experts. They don’t show off, but they speak knowledgeably.
  2. They love their subject. Their enthusiasm is contagious.
  3. They love each other, and they love their audience. It’s obvious in how they welcome people, how they talk with them, how they offer advice (humbly, self-effacingly, good-naturedly), how they offer criticism (in the same way), how they disagree (amiably). They don’t take themselves too seriously. They seem so humble that they never take offense.
  4. They are wonderful “company.” People want to listen to them… even if they aren’t interested in cars.
  5. While their subject is important, even sometimes a matter of life and death, they know the value of “play.” There is plenty of time in each episode reserved for goofing around.
  6. They don’t do anything to concern themselves with making their show hip or cool. They just stick to what they know and love.
  7. There is more laughter per minute on their show than in any other program on TV or radio. And we like the sound of big, hearty, contagious, fitful laughter. Bruce Cockburn has a song about all of the different kinds of laughter. Car Talk laughter is not scornful or demeaning. It is joyful.

Three more thoughts:

  1. In a strange way, they remind me of Jim Henson and Fred Rogers: Their joy is so obvious, and they create a welcoming space for their audience.
  2. Why can’t I think of any Christians on the radio who inspire anything even close to my feelings about listening to Tom and Ray? The Car Talk kind of “glow” is what you might expect from people who talk about “the joy of the Lord” and “the fruit of the spirit.” Ah, but talking about something and actually living something are two very different things.
  3. What can I do so that my writing, and my presence, bring more of this kind of thing into the world?
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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.