The History of “The Outliers Inn”
It all started on November 3rd, 2014. This was the day that Tom Magliozzi, co-host of “Car Talk”, was recalled to that great junk yard in the sky, to be joyfully reunited with all his previous vehicles.
Car Talk was a radio show originally broadcast regionally to the greater Boston area in 1977. The show went national in 1987, and won a Peabody Award in 1992. The hosts of the show, brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi (aka “Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers”), were a Sunday staple on National Public Radio (NPR) and JP had been a fan of the show since he could remember.
The guests to the show would call-in and share various symptoms and maladies they were experiencing with their automobiles. The hosts would roast the caller, their automobiles, their maladies, and themselves in a respectful manner; perhaps sometimes less respectful of the vehicles themselves and their manufacturers. Every episode was a lot of fun listen to and certainly anyone who did tune in would smile and laugh at least once.
Although they played rather unsophisticated wrench-turners on the show, Tom earned an undergraduate degree from MIT, an MBA at Northeastern University, and a Doctorate in Marketing from the Boston University School of Management. Ray (apparently the less ambitious brother) also earned an undergraduate degree from MIT.
But the brothers grew bored of the work their degrees prepared them for and started a “do-it-yourself” auto repair garage named Hacker’s Haven that rented space and equipment to people who wanted to repair their own vehicles. The concept looked good on paper but was not successful. So they converted the business into a traditional repair shop called the “Good News Garage”.
The business caught the attention of several people in the media and after some guest appearances here and there, badda-bing, badda-boom, they eventually started Car Talk. Listen to episodes of Car Talk here.
When JP read of the passing of Tom, he posted the article on Facebook.
Antlerboy was the first to comment on JP’s post. Even though Antlerboy is from the United Kingdom, he had just started to listen to the show and even shared his version of Tom’s obituary; “So, it happened again. You wasted a perfectly good life amusing yourself and other people and upholding the values of intelligence, science, eloquence, and rude good humour. And even though St. Peter himself will run screaming from the Pearly Gates when he hears YOU say it…. ‘That was Tom Magliozzi. And, don’t drive like your brother…’”
That was the start of a series of calls between JP and Antlerboy, with JP making fun of British vehicles; as was his right, having owned not one, but two MGB’s (one, admittedly, eventually becoming a parts car for the other). For instance;
“Why didn’t the UK ever become a computer manufacturing powerhouse? Because they couldn’t make them leak oil.”
Or “Why do the Brits drink warm beer? Because their refrigerators are made by Lucas.”
Antlerboy, at the time an owner of a Rover 211 and with a rich family history of owning troublesome automobiles including a Morris Travellers and alongside such imported luxuries as a Moskvich and two Yugos, was not minded do disagree.
But then we got to thinking (often an activity fraught with peril). There were a lot of absurdities that occur and opportunities to poke fun of in the goings-on in our own profession; businesses and their operations. Heck, we were guilty of some of these absurd goings-on ourselves. Why don’t we start our own show?
This was not a project where we dropped everything and devoted ourselves to its development and launch. Heck, if it wasn’t fun and became work, it wasn’t worth doing. Rather, it was a notion that incrementally became more and more real as we started putting it together.
But what to name it?
This was not as easy as it might sound and took a long time to settle upon. We used word-association, threw words on the board like moist and warm dung to see what stuck. Near countless suggestions were made and shot down for one reason or another.
Eventually, an approach we used was to describe what we wanted in a show.
What kind of people did we want to have on the show?
… People who thought differently, challenged the status-quo, were provocative… outliers.
Where might we find these people?
… A pub, a tavern… an inn.
“The Outliers Inn”. It had a good ring to it. And was a great play on words. We decided against “The Outlier’s Inn”. This was not a place that belonged to Outliers, but rather was for Outliers.
Thankfully, the URL “TheOutliersInn.com” and some close variants were available, and we took them in July of 2015 (seven months since Tom’s passing).
Now for the logo. Again, not an easy thing.
But Antlerboy’s partner really snapped it into focus. We shared with her what the show was about, the name, and how it was derived. She decided on a font that a person might find at an old British Pub; a bit rough as if hand carved into wood, a bit faded, a bit uneven. Then she developed a logo that looked like a sign that might be hanging on the side of a building. But the real stroke of genius was the graphic component; two semi-circles that represented the place with a series of dots inside the circle – but one “outlier” dot that was outside the circle. It was perfect.
Web-designer extraordinaire, Charles Ottman, created the website while Antlerboy and JP created the content (well, mostly JP).
Antlerboy and JP discussed the format of the show. We knew that self-deprecation, the ability to laugh at ourselves, was going to be a critical component for the show to be successful; and that the guests should also have a good sense of humor.
Antlerboy and JP would start each show with a discussion of some goings-on that was either personally experienced, observed, or read about. Then our guests would be introduced with an ensuing conversation had. And then we would close the show; always making sure to give a respectful tip of the hat to Car Talk by ending the show as Click and Clack did with “Don’t drive like my brother. And don’t drive like my brother” (sometime substituting some other word for “drive” that was relevant to the show).
Almost a year to the day of Tom’s passing, The Outliers Inn opened for business in October of 2015. The guest for our “Inaugural Episode” was Matt “Boom” Daniel; a personal friend of JP’s who is a Marine Aviator and graduate of Top Gun.
The show started with specific guests being invited; almost like a late-night show with hosts and invited guests. But identifying guests and coordinating schedules proved very challenging over time; it was starting to become work and that was no bueno.
So it was decided to change to the call-in format used by Car Talk. Invitations were created on EventBrite and they were shared on social media. Sometimes, the show would have a theme, but mostly they were “Open Mic” where anyone could join and share whatever they wanted to share.
Together, JP and Antlerboy have produced almost 60 episodes over five years.
Of course, The Outliers Inn has always been a side-gig for both JP and Antlerboy with each running their own businesses and other interests.
JP published his book “State of Readiness” (2017) to great acclaim which also became a podcast as a series of “fireside chats” and, latterly, “Supercharged Supply Chain” which delves into the complexity of supply chains and logistics today.
And Antlerboy co-wrote his first book, “The 99 Essential Business Questions” (2016) and began planning his own podcasts “Transduction: the systems, complexity, and cybernetics” podcast (I have come to sing songs to your cat) and “Joy and Work: service transformation”. We will update this with links to Antlerboy’s podcast projects when available.
So, after five years with The Outliers Inn, Antlerboy decided he needed to free-up time to properly develop and produce his podcasts and to work on his book, a solo effort. Something had to give, and sadly that was to be tending to the patrons who graced us with their presence at The Outliers Inn.
Antlerboy’s last episode as co-host was in December of 2020. However, in recognition of his being a founder of The Outliers Inn, it was decided to bestow onto Antlerboy, the title and role of Host Emeritus Extraordinaire and all the trappings and riches that naturally go with such an honor. Of course, Antlerboy graciously accepted and promises to return from time to time to claim his lifetime’s access to the victuals and liquor at the inn as an honored guest.
But as they say; “One door closes and another opens – but the hallways are a bitch” and The Outliers Inn is happy to introduce David “Mule” Schneider as the new co-host with JP, starting in January 2021.
There are already some changes planned. Most notably, and even though the hosts have faces for radio, will be a change in format with both audio and video renditions of the show. In the video version of the show, only the co-hosts will be on video and the guests will be audio only.
We are also going to move the date and times of our recording to be once a month on a Saturday instead of during the week in the hopes that more people will be able to join without worry of a conflict with work.
We hope the show continues to improve over time and are always happy to hear opportunities for improvement – so stay tuned!