Ray Magliozzi, left, and Tom Magliozzi, hosts of National Public Radio's Car Talk, in Cambridge, Mass. on June 19, 2008.
Charles Krupa—AP
November 3, 2014 8:09 PM EST

Tom Magliozzi, the co-host of NPR’s Car Talk who died Monday at 77, wasn’t always a radio guru.

Both he and his brother Ray, his co-host, went to MIT; before 1973, when they opened the garage that first got them invited to talk about cars on the radio, he was an engineer.

But in 2000, when the Magliozzis spoke to TIME’s Joel Stein about a book released that year, they explained that they decided back in the 1970s to pay ample attention to their “work-to-play ratio,” as Ray phrased it.

They could have made more money than they did, they could have been more famous — though just barely, considering Car Talk‘s reach — and they could have done something more prestigious, but they didn’t want to.

Their dedication to the accessible, nothing-fancy ethos was, they explained, part of the reason why they did a radio show about cars in the first place:

Read the full article, free of charge, here in TIME’s archives: Four-Wheel Expertise

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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