Tuesday, November 4, 2014 was a sad and tense day as I was driving my car and listening to NPR’s radio show Fresh Air with Terry Gross. It was sad because earlier in the day I had learned that Tom Magliozzi from the very popular NPR radio show ‘Car Talk’ had died the day before. I was also feeling very tense that day because it was election day and I knew these mid terms were one of the most important in American history.
Terry was interviewing Doug Berman who had been the executive producer of Car Talk since 1987. Doug told a very funny story about Ray and Tom Magliozzi, or “Click and Clack” as they were often referred to. Even through the humor of the story, what struck me was how refreshing it was to hear about 2 guys who could not be bought. Money was not their god. If only we had more politicians who were as passionate about their jobs and wanted to do it just for the love of what they do.
Read the hilarious and uplifting story told by Berman:
TERRY GROSS: In all the public radio conferences I’ve gone to, I think I met Tom and Ray once. And I always understood that they didn’t travel a lot. They didn’t leave town much. They didn’t do a lot of public appearances. How come?
DOUG BERMAN: Again they were just sort of – they were internally driven. I can tell you a story about how they – I can tell you a story that reflects his unique approach to doing what he wanted to do. And also can teach you something about negotiations at the same time.
TERRY GROSS: Oh, oh, I’m eager to hear this. (Laughter).
DOUG BERMAN: Yeah. One day I got a call from a woman who is some sort of talent representative. And she said, I’m calling about Tom and Ray. I’m representing a client which is – I won’t say the name of the client, but it’s a major software company that makes a program called Word and one called Excel. And she said we’re doing – we’re introducing a new product. I don’t even remember what it was. Maybe it was a, you know – something in your house that you open to let air in or something. And she said we’re doing this in New Orleans and we’re doing a mock late-night TV show as our, you know, presentation. And we’d like Tom and Ray to be the hosts of this – for this, you know, 45-minute product introduction. And we’ll fly them first-class to New Orleans, you know. They could do it in one day if they like. They could stay overnight or however long they want if they want to enjoy the city, you know. Would they be willing to do this? And I said, gee, I don’t know. I’m happy to ask them. She said, well, we can pay them $10,000. I said, OK. I’ll find out. So the next time I saw them we were meeting, and I told them about it. And they looked at each other and looked at me and said – Tom said, why would we want to do that? I don’t know. I just said I would ask you, OK. I’ll tell her you’re not interested.
So I called her back the next day, and I said, hi, I’m sorry they’re not interested. She said, what do you mean they’re not interested? I said, oh, they’re just not interested. She said, well, what’s their number? And I said I don’t think they have a number. I think they’re not interested. She said of course everybody has a number, you know. What’s their number? I said they don’t have a number. She said all right, well, ask them if they’ll do it for $25,000.
DOUG BERMAN: So I said all right. And so next time I saw them I said, you know, I explained it to them, and I said, you know, she wants to know if you’ll do it for $25,000. And they said, no. Why would we want to do it for $25,000? We don’t want to do it at all. And we didn’t want to do it for 10,000. Tell her no. So I called her back, and she says all right will they do it for 50,000?
DOUG BERMAN: I said I’ll ask them. You know, at that point I was, you know, who knows, maybe they will, you know? So I went and they said no, why would we want to do that? So I call her back and she is incredulous. And she says tell them to give me a number. (Laughter). So I say, I don’t think they want to do it. Just – I can’t tell my boss that. Just whatever it is, tell them to give me a number. So I explain this to him. And Tom says, all right tell her that to get us to do this, she would have to give us a $100,000 each, but then we wouldn’t be able to do it because we could never work for someone who was stupid enough to pay us that much.
You can listen to the entire show here: http://www.npr.org/2014/11/04/361408028/-we-have-learned-absolutely-nothing-tom-magliozzi-on-decades-of-car-talk