It is not surprising that the car talk show was so popular for the 33 years that it was on the air. First airing in 1977, the car talk radio show provided something for everyone, whether he or she was looking for humor or information. A listener did not even need to be a car afficionado to be a fan of the car talk radio show. All a listener needed to be was a car talk radio show fan.
Why was this car talk radio show among so many radio car shows so popular? Part of the reason why this automotive radio program was so popular was because of the personalities of Tom and Ray Magliozzi. They obviously knew their business better than anyone. And, more than that, they knew how to deliver a one liner and were the sort of mechanics that everyone wanted. They were the sort of mechanics who could create an auto radio show that people could remember affectionately.
For a car show radios might not have seemed like a natural format. Most people were becoming less familiar with their cars in the latter half of the 20th Century and throughout the 21st. As people became less familiar with their cars, it seems like common sense that they would be less interested in the the way that their car worked.
But, in many ways, the opposite was the case. The less people served as their own mechanics, the more they became interested in the people who were and, furthermore, the more they became interested in the operations of the machinery that they relied so much upon but did not always understand. Tom and Ray Magliozzi made these things accessible to them and they made learning about a car fun.
Whether the show is replaceable or not remains to be seen. The reruns of the show will likely remain popular. But the car talk radio show is like a mechanic, once you have gotten used to one, it is hard to get used to another.