Vinnie Richichi, Rob Pratte ready to put show into drive
Tom and Ray Magliozzi — aka “Click and Clack,” the nationally syndicated “Car Talk” guys — are retiring soon.
But Vinnie Richichi and Rob Pratte are just getting their engines revved up for their new show, “Drivetime,” debuting from 7 to 8 a.m. Saturday on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA.
After a test drive last week, the radio veterans — Pratte, a sports reporter and host of “Weekend Magazine” on KDKA AM and Richichi, mid-day co-host on the station's FM sister, Sports Radio 93.7 FM The Fan — officially team for their first project together.
Program director Jim Graci says it will be a weekly blend of “guy-next-door” car discussion, approached with humor and passion, including interviews with guests from the automotive world and calls from listeners.
“Spend five minutes with Vinnie and Rob together in the same room and you'll see they already have a strong chemistry,” Graci says. “The trick may be trying to get a word in edgewise with the two of them bouncing off each other, talking cars, engines, experiences. They have a great common bond and sheer excitement to talk about cars together.”
Graci says “Drivetime” was not a response to NPR's “Car Talk” hosts ending their run. The station is always looking to expand and refine its on-air line-up, he says.
“It was apparent right away that this was a natural fit,” he says. “Vinnie has been writing automotive reviews for over 20 years and has a tremendous affection for the automobile. Rob is a closet motor head. I could see Rob crusin' Monaca in a muscle car about 30 years ago.”
Pratte implies that he will be riding shotgun to Richichi's automotive expertise and connections.
“He's the brain trust,” he says. “I'm the guy sitting in the barber chair leafing through a car magazine, while I'm waiting to get my hair cut, looking back at my youth and wishing I could have had some of those cars.”
He's also impressed with Richichi's “electric” personality “that just lights up the room.”
“He's gregarious, bold, bright and entertaining,” Pratte says. “Even though he's from New York, he is a Pittsburgh, Primanti-sandwich-eating yinzer.”
Richichi appreciates Pratte's easy-going nature and sense of humor.
“People sometimes just walk in and kind of click. It feels natural working with Rob,” he says.
Richichi, whose auto review feature has aired on radio stations across the United States and Canada, says the time felt right for “Drivetime.”
“New cars are coming out, and there is a resurrection of the American automobile,” he says. “People are looking at cars as a reflection of their personalities once again. We spend more time in our cars as almost anywhere else.”
Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or firstname.lastname@example.org.