Car Talk Staff Bios
Doug's promising career took a wrong turn back in 1987. At the time, Dougie had a "real job" as News Director of Boston's NPR affiliate, WBUR. He had been News Director at the NPR station in Amherst, Massachusetts, a Production Assistant for "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" at NPR in Washington, D.C., and had graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where, according to all accounts, he majored in West African drumming (hence, "Bongo Boy").
But in the late '80s, as his mother laments, "He fell in with the wrong crowd." That is, he started spending time with us. In 1987, when Car Talk was still a fledgling local show, Dougie volunteered to take charge...which he did...turning it into the fledgling national show it is today.
Dougie came with us when we founded Dewey, Cheetham, and Howe in 1992, and since he was our only employee, we named him CEO. (It beat giving him something expensive like benefits or his own chair!) Since then, he's led our charge into other ventures, like our newspaper column, audio publishing, cartalk.com, and our investments in some company called Enron that he won't tell us much about.
Somewhere in the last decade or two, he woke up from one of his eight-hour naps, and created another show called, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.", which you can hear on most of the stations that carry Car Talk. Dougie, not a slave to fashion, lives in Cambridge (Our Fair City), with his wife, Sip, a veterinarian (insert Doug-care joke here), and Sip's too many animals.
Although David Greene, our Associate Producer, didn't officially join our staff until the summer of 2000, his relationship with Car Talk dates well back to the 1980s. As a Production Engineer at WBUR in the late 1980s, David filled in on our show several times. (This was known around WBUR as, "Drawing the short straw.") On one occasion, he basked in the nationwide celebrity that followed his appearance in the credits as, "Our engineer this week is not Ken Rogers."
David's resume also proudly lists a phenomenally unsuccessful audition for the role of Chief Mechanic Vinnie Goombatz. In the early 90s, David became WBUR's Executive Producer for "Morning Edition." In 1993, he put his first life lesson from Doug Berman into practice: "Why do something that requires you to work every day if you can do something that only requires one day a week?" In July 1993, David helped launch public radio's first weekly sports program "Only a Game" with Bill Littlefield. David produced "Only a Game" until April 1997, when Berman drafted him to help launch NPR's new weekly news quiz program, "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me."
David served as Senior Producer to "Wait Wait..." until October 1999, when his homesickness for the Tasty, Elsie's, and the Wursthaus brought him back to Harvard Square. Unfortunately, they had all gone out of business, but he was already here, so he figured, why not work for Car Talk?
David is married to an extremely patient woman.
Doug's first word in life was "car." Unfortunately, no one made note of the second word, but we wouldn't be surprised if it was "talk." Depending upon his level of self-esteem when asked, he is either the Official Multimedia Associate Producer for Dewey, Cheetham & Howe... or Senior Web Lackey.
Mayer grew up in New York City but quickly fled to the White Mountains of New Hampshire during his high school years. In college, at Brown University, Mayer spent much of his time as General Manager of WBRU-FM, an alternative rock station in Providence, Rhode Island, and frequent winner of Rolling Stone's Station of the Year award.
Then, sadly, he met us. Talk about getting derailed!
Mayer slaved away for a few years as Car Talk's first Assistant Producer. Realizing that such an association was having a profoundly detrimental impact on his intended career track, he left to spend a number of years as a partner in several companies that traded radio stations like cheap Monopoly pieces. Feeling a need to do something slightly more creative than stare at spreadsheets, Mayer went on to write a number of humor books, including, Newt! A Paper Doll Book, The Supreme Court Paper Doll Book, Bill and Al's Excellent Adventure, and The Cutting Edge, all of which can now be bought at Amazon.com for approximately seven cents each.
It was during this time that Mayer was detained by New Hampshire's Mount Washington Observatory to launch a daily weather feature, "The Weather Notebook." It received funding from the National Science Foundation and was aired for more than a decade on over 200 stations.
In 1996, Mayer rejoined Car Talk to coerce us into getting some work done - until, a few days later, he caved and adopted our policy of extended siestas and hour-long cappuccino breaks.
When not napping at his desk at Car Talk Plaza or at his home office in Randolph, New Hampshire, Mayer is also busy with a few unusual ventures on the side. He founded Run the Alps, a company that offers trail running tours in the Swiss, French, and Italian Alps. He's partners in the White Mountain Cafe and Bookstore, has been known to write stories for the Appalachia Journal, TrailRunner magazine, and the trail running web site, irunfar. He also recently helped launch the web site, ALPSinsight.
In his free time, Mayer likes to telemark and skate ski, trail run, climb, and tour on his road bike. He has been known to sell family members into bondage for an opportunity to telemark-ski or trail run in the Alps, Rockies, or any place that's ridiculously vertical.
As a rule, Mayer's activities eventually lead him to teams of orthopedic surgeons, and he would like to take this opportunity to thank Drs. Urbanek, Rowland, Irons, and MacDowell of Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and the kind nurse who brought him that Foley catheter at the last possible minute.
Connie's inability to secure and maintain a steady job led her to the doorstep of Dewey, Cheetham and Howe in 2010, where she sat blocking the fire escape and refused to move until she was offered the position of Junior Web Lackey. Impressed with her strategy and eager to leave work, the staff quickly consented.
Her background in freelance writing is not nearly as useful as her experiences at the Young Learner's Exhibit in the Museum of Science, where she gained years of practice speaking at a kindergartener's comprehension level - a skill that now makes everyone else at Car Talk Plaza feel smart... or, at least, not quite so stupid. Her ability to recognize the warning signs of a tantrum have proven invaluable in the studio, where it is not unusual to find our hosts digging in their heels and holding out for another round of cappuccinos.
Connie's parents insist that they became fond of radio after having children who scratched all their records by jumping too much. Consequently, she grew up believing that Car Talk was punishment for leaping off the sofa - a sentence she still believes to be cruel and inhumane. As time passed, however, her brain softened, and she grew to enjoy Tom and Ray's incessant laughter and lousy advice, and Car Talk ultimately won her over with an offer of a paycheck in exchange for very little work.
Connie lives in Somerville and enjoys reading and avoiding the grocery store. She hopes to someday have a giant lake house and go swimming at least three times a day.
Catherine Fenollosa serves as our Associate Producer, Emeritus - a title that roughly translates as, "She's married, has kids, can't work full time, but we still like having her around."
Though we haven't told her, it's our humble opinion that Catherine apparently was bitten by a tsetse fly while on vacation in Africa. What else could possibly explain an otherwise sane person returning to work with us?
Catherine began her career across the Charles River at WBUR in Boston, where she worked as a news writer and production assistant for Morning Edition.
In 1996, we sweet-talked her into joining us at Car Talk Plaza, with the official title of Associate Producer in Charge of Many Things. Her tasks included helping Tom and Ray sound smart (well, smarter, anyway), mentoring staff on all matters of fashion, and keeping the local shoe stores in business - all tasks which she performed par excellence.
After tying the knot, Catherine and her husband, Josh, moved to New York City. Having worked with us, Catherine was admirably prepared for a city full of wackos. There she worked for the WNYC/Public Radio International radio show, "The Next Big Thing" - a show that lived up to its name. Until it went off the air, that is; earning it painfully obvious nicknames like, "The Last Big Thing."
After four years of world-class museums, sky-rocketing real-estate prices, and the best roast pork buns ever at Chelsea's Grand Sichuan on 24th Street and 9th Avenue (shhh... don't tell anyone), Catherine once again felt the call of Our Fair City.
Okay, we're lying. It was either that or living in a shipping container along the East River.
Back in town, Catherine landed once again at WBUR as Senior Associate Producer of NPR's "The Connection." This show also went off the air.
That's two down, Catherine. Are we next?
In 2005, Catherine and Josh made their best decision yet and welcomed their smashingly cute son Henry into the world, soon followed by his equally charming brother, Leo. Now Catherine has returned to the hallowed halls of Dewey, Cheetham and Howe, as Queen of Puzzler Tower. (You didn't know the Puzzler had its own kingdom? Where have you been?) Befitting the tootsies of royalty, Catherine continues to keep the shoe store owners in Our Fair City smiling when they see her visage gracing their aisles.
Apparently, Catherine's never quite forgotten a piece of advice Ray once gave her: "It's just Car Talk. Quit pretending it's work!"
PHP, MySQL, HTML, CSS, XML, CMS
Translation? She knows her stuff. Big time.
Despite all of this, she doesn't watch Star Trek. Or even Star Wars.
Born in 1981, Estonia, Katrin arrived at Car Talk Plaza after a variety of offbeat careers, including working for the Ministry of Justice for the Republic of Estonia, Wizzard Software and One Economy. Today, though, she's downright domestic, living in Portland, OR, with family that includes one or more dogs at any given time.
Without Katrin, the Car Talk web site would be running on a Tandy TRS-80 computer, only one user could connect at a time, and you'd have to bring your own cassettes. With her, our cloud-based site uses the latest technology, Drupal content management system, and speeds along like a Jaguar XJ-12. And whenever a wrench gets thrown into our Car Talk cloud, she's diving into the code in minutes, ripping it apart and coming out holding the guilty party.
When she's not building the next great Car Talk web feature, Katrin's busy knitting, cycling, or taking one of far-too-many courses towards her Social Science degree.
Fun facts about Katrin?
• She learned to knit at age 4, ride a bike at 12... and drive a car at 25.
• She speaks more languages than your average car has doors.
• She thinks Saabs are the best cars ever made. But she can't change a tire to save her life.
• She likes dogs more than people, and emails more than calls.
When the Car Talk web site is programmed by robots (which Katrin will build and program), Katrin plans to retire and become a librarian. Or maybe a newspaper reporter. Or owner of a books-and-yarn store. In the meantime, we're glad to have her exactly where she is, keeping the technology behind the curtain well-oiled and all of our ones and zeros exactly where they should be.
When a New Hampshire State Highway crew found ten-year old Steve sleeping beside the road in a tiny home he fashioned out of a pumpkin, they took pity on him. They gave him food, clothing, and a half-empty box of Pop-Tarts. The crew took him in, and were determined to give this feral boy a fighting chance in life!
Okay, who are we kidding? Steve had an unconventional start in life… but not quite that odd. He studied literary theory in Paris, fought wildland fires for the US Forest Service, was a weather observer at the “Home of the World's Worst Weather" atop New Hampshire’s rugged Mount Washington, and has coded scores of responsive websites and web apps for start-ups in Boulder, Colorado. In his free time, he designs posters and passports for his beloved White Mountains. Steve lives in New Hampshire’s upper Connecticut River valley. He is married with a one-year-old boy, and two dogs—all of whom would prefer to remain anonymous now that he’s publicly outed himself as associated with Car Talk.
Victoria has a long history of making questionable car buying decisions— including no fewer than three Fiats, a small herd of 70’s-era Saabs, and a Chevy Celebrity Eurosport. Her current IRA-draining investment is a beloved '06 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. She's racked up 30 years of motorcycling experience, too, and teaches motorcycle safety courses to help pay for her Jeep problem. When she's not Googling “Jeep salvage parts cheap,” Victoria hangs out in the Car Talk Community, edits Car Talk’s Reviews, kills time on our social media channels — and occasionally tosses us a blog post or two. Her descent to employment with Car Talk was preceded by a successful career as a photojournalist and radio news anchor. Victoria lives in North Carolina, and has an abiding love for the Oxford comma, the Oxford comma, and the Oxford comma.
Alison is a designer for the Car Talk web site. This is much preferable to her other possible job title, which, having been born and raised in Maine, would have been "Potato Digger."
Alison came to Boston in the late 80s for college - and stayed. (Admittedly, there was a one-year stint in Chicago, but the terms of her court settlement do not allow us to discuss this period of her life - at least until she has completed paying reparations.) Alison has worked as a graphic designer in a variety of environments, from the Boston Ballet to a tiny four-person design studio. Lately she's been writing children's stories and procrastinating doing so by working on her website, rangacreative.com.
Alison is noted for her exceptionally bizarre and recurring dream of personally designed loft spaces in New York City. The most recent had a stained glass staircase up to a roof deck with a sign hanging outside that said "Ric's." Her therapist quickly and correctly diagnosed her phobia of Casablanca film festivals, which she avoids at all costs.
Alison lives in the north of England with her husband Steve (no, not Car Talk Steve) and their awesome 5-year-old son, Lukas. When she's not virtually commuting five hours back in time to work on Car Talk, she says you can often find her getting Lukas into his swim costume to go hang at the leisure centre or taking him out for a ramble in his wellies. She's also studying roundabouts, central reservations, boots and bonnets so she can pass her UK driver's licence test. And she claims she's not affected by the idiosyncrasies of the British language. Such vulgar insinuations, she says, are rubbish and the senseless yammerings of a bloody duffer who's had a pint too many.
Geraldine McGowan, a.k.a., "Typos," is Car Talk's staff proofreader, grammarian and punctuation czar. But don't let the Irish surname fool you... Gerri is actually half Sicilian and wields her blue editing pencil like a stiletto, taking every misplaced comma as a personal affront to the "Family."
Although her personal history is shadowy (okay, some would say boring), Car Talk has learned through various channels that Gerri grew up on Long Island, where she was raised as a general contracting princess - she had her own tool belt (in pink). Her age is also cloaked in mystery. Suffice it to say that she is old enough to remember when the Datsun 260Z was a hot car!
Before joining Car Talk, Gerri worked in a variety of positions in the publishing field - including a brief stint as chocolate reviewer for a magazine devoted to all things chocolate. Fed up with the "glamorous" (read: low salary) world of publishing, Gerri decided if she was going to work for low pay, she might as well work somewhere with equally low standards: Car Talk! As we keep telling her, the company motto is "It's only Car Talk!"
John is Car Talk's studio engineer. While the rest of the Car Talk staff dozes in various stages of REM sleep during the show, it's John's job to stay awake enough to put callers on the air, and remind Tommy to speak into the microphone.
John was born in 1980, making him a veritable infant on our staff.
John attended Emerson College, with dreams of engineering a respectable show. He received an Audio/Radio Production degree in 2002.
Like many graduates before him, John's degree prepared him admirably for a career in a local liquor store.
After a few months of selling Boone's Farm and Night Train to underemployed public radio announcers, a job offer from WBUR didn't seem so bad. After weighing his options over a few Pabst Blue Ribbons, John crushed a few beer cans on his forehead and took the plunge.
Today, he works as the staff engineer for both Car Talk and one of NPR's respectable shows, "Only a Game."
John claims to enjoy his Car Talk engineering gig for three reasons:
Reason 1. It's easy.
Reason B. It's fun.
Reason III. When he was a kid his father used to listen to Car Talk non-stop on Saturdays. He hated Car Talk so much, he would leave the house. Now, finally, he listens to Car Talk - and gets paid for it!
John "Bugsy Sebastian Mr. Height Sweet Cheeks Free Lunch Twinkle Toes Donut Breath Hula Hips Gigabyte Make That Two Triple Cheeseburgers" Lawlor is the Technical Advisor for Dewey, Cheatham and Howe. What does that mean? How the hell do we know? We never see the guy! Actually, Bugsy is one of the sweetest guys you'll ever meet. He shows up while we're on the air with a couple of dozen donuts. Fortunately, this is an assignment for which "The Bugster" is admirably prepared, having worked as a Boston police officer for more than a dozen years.
Bugsy has had a long and sordid career in the automotive world—beginning as a prepubescent punk, drag racing his '63 Corvette Convertible on Route 1 outside Boston. He even had his own automotive radio show on Boston's WBZ for several years—until the station manager over there found out.
Bugsy is also in charge of dealing with all of the auto manufacturers and arranging for the new vehicles we test drive. For example, let's say we test drive the new Mercedes E 320 for three months. Then, on the show, we'll say something like, "What a hunk of Nazi junk—I'd rather have a Taurus" It then becomes Bugsy's job to explain to all the irate German executives that Tommy was having a hemorrhoidal flare-up and has no recollection whatsoever of having made such remarks.
In his free time, J.Bugsy S.M.H.S.C.F.L.T.T.D.B.H.H.G.M.T.T.T.C. Lawlor scours the planet in search of his next free lunch. As listeners to our lousy show know, we report back each week as to where he happens to have located that week's gratis repast. At his sprawling homestead, nicknamed "Bugsyworld" by the Car Talk staff, Bugsy is amassing an extensive collection of "antique car memorabilia" - A.K.A junk.
Steve is Car Talk's Chief Emeritus Nerd. What does that mean? It means, like a bad rash, he can't seem to get rid of us.
The fact that Steve's a nerd is, in itself, somewhat unusual, because he got his start at Hampshire College - an institution known more for its earth-tone Birkenstocks than its Java-programming geeks. When not engaged in pagan solstice rituals, Steve studied film, animation and, good thing for us, computer science.
Home in San Francisco and waiting for the Internet to start, Steve killed time with a multimedia company that produced CD-ROMs. Realizing he was working far too hard, however, he moved to Boston and, fulfilling his dream to slack off more efficiently, he met us. In the years to come, Steve would buy a farm, raise goats, sell a farm, move to Portland, Oregon, meet a stunningly fabulous partner, move to London, Paris and various points in between.
Steve is thoroughly addicted to professional soccer and would find a way to travel to Pluto, if the U.S. was playing in the World Cup final or Fulham were playing in Champions League. Both equally plausible scenarios.
Fun fact: Steve once worked at a car wash, and cherished those quiet moments he got to drive really fancy cars between the vacuum pit and the wash.
For fourteen years, Zuzu was the official dog of Dewey, Cheetham & Howe. She was born to a black Lab father and German Shepard/Rottweiler/Bull Terrier etc., etc., etc., mother; both of whom, like Tommy, spent their days hanging out in Harvard Square.
Zuzu was adopted by Dougie, raised in a loving home, and trained to sit, stay, come, heel and catch a dog biscuit off her nose by a gentleman Tom and Ray refer to as "the dog Nazi." Despite her excellent training, Zuzu still retained the spastic charm and lovable nature of a carefree mutt (she prefered the PC term "Pure-breddedly Challenged"). Zuzu had a spectacularly sweet disposition. She was an expert swimmer, a decent typist and frequently filled in for Louie when she was on vacation.
Zuzu's hobbies included sniffing crotches, barking at the mailman, rolling in disgusting dead things, cleaning peoples noses with her tongue and placing a dog-slimed tennis ball on the lap of any visitor to Dewey, Cheetham & Howe who made the mistake of wearing a business suit.
On August 22, 2007, Zuzu succumbed to complications of bladder cancer, in the arms of her human companion, Dougie. Also nearby were her dog mom, Sip, and her adopted sister, Lucky. All were distraught. There were many mourners around Harvard Square, including a number of bums, who, noticing Zuzu's absence, asked, "Hey, where's your dog? Spare some change?"
Zuzu received a number of accolades during her life, including being honored with Customer of the Week at the Peet's Coffee here in Harvard Square.