Steve Overbeck loved to talk about cars – in his Madisonville auto repair shop and on the radio.
Overbeck, who died Sunday Dec. 10 at age 67, parlayed a regular appearance on WVXU-FM's old "Liveline" talk show into a second career as a radio host on WVXU-FM, WCKY-AM, WKRC-AM and WDJO-AM for about 30 years.
"Steve was amazing in that he had an encyclopedic recall of virtually any vehicle, which was tough in the days before everything was computerized. He was fun and entertaining, and I never saw him do a show with a Chilton’s (repair manual) or another resource," says WMKV-FM's George Zahn, who worked with Overbeck when WVXU-FM was owned by Xavier University.
After many appearances on Larry Ashcraft's "Liveline," Overbeck was given his own show, originally called "Bumper to Bumper" in the late 1980s.
"The show was very popular and we were pushing it as a possible national offering. But that was about the time the 'Car Talk' guys were coming out," says WMKV-FM's Mike Martini, who also worked at the old WVXU-FM with Overbeck.
"We were always pretty frustrated because Click and Clack (Tom and Ray Magliozzi), while very funny and personable, never really gave much practical car repair information. Steve, on the other hand, would get very specific: 'Look on the back of the starter and you’ll see two wires, grab the red one'… He could 'see' the repair as he talked," Martini says.
After graduating from St. Xavier High School, Overbeck served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Friends say he wore a section of chain around his wrist from a Vietnam War helicopter. He also came home with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
Overbeck first worked for Courtesy Chevrolet, rising through the ranks to become head technician in five years. In 1975, "the entrepreneurial bug continued to bite," and he purchased an Oakley automotive repair business, according to his Overbeck Auto Services website. Overbeck Auto Services now is at 6403 Madison Road, off Redbank Expressway.
He was an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certified Master Technician in autos, heavy-duty trucks and engine machinery.
Overbeck left public radio for a Cincinnati commercial station because of Xavier's policy prohibiting him to smoke cigars in the building, Martini says.
He did an evening show on WCKY (1530) "in the late 1980s or early 1990s," says Gary Sullivan, who started his home fix-it radio show on WCKY-AM in 1986. "He loved his pipe and cars," Sullivan says.
Overbeck's website says that "the history of Overbeck Auto Services dates back to when I was tinkering with the lawn mowers I was using in my mowing business at the age of 13. I was determined to make the mowers run the way I knew they should. At the age of 16, I began my courtship with wife and longtime business partner Ann, who was also mechanically inclined."
He is survived by his wife Ann, and son Matt. Services are private, according to his obituary at Geo. H. Rohde & Son Funeral Home in Mount Lookout.