It’s almost impossible to believe, but after 40 plus years Garrison Keillor is retiring as host of A Prairie Home Companion. The first show went on the air in Minnesota way back in 1974, and not long after that it became essential Saturday night listening on public radio stations all around the country, including on this station. In those early days, no one could have predicted the tremendous impact that APHC and Garrison would have on public radio and our culture.
Has A Prairie Home Companion been a part of your Saturday nights over the years?
Let Garrison know in a short message. We’ll share them online over the next few weeks. From a simple note of congratulations to a story of what the show has meant to you over the years, we appreciate every one we receive. Greetings for Garrison
NY Times article: The Garrison Keillor You Never Knew
Star Tribune article: Sun is Setting on Garrison Keillor’s Time on Lake Wobegone
The show now airs on more than a 1,000 stations, with 35 million people (that’s about 10 percent of all public radio listeners) tuning in each week. Tens of millions of people have listened to the show over the years, and a whole generation of children has grown up listening to Garrison and his stories from Lake Wobegon.
But only two shows remain in the current season: live, this Saturday from Tanglewood featuring the DiGiallonardo Sisters, Heather Masse and Rob Fisher, and a final taped broadcast the following Saturday, July 2. Both air from 6 to 8 pm.
For the remainder of the summer, listeners will hear repeat broadcasts with Garrison. Then in October, musician Chris Thile takes over as the new host of the show.
For those of us who go back a long way with APHC, there are a lot of memories. For me, the most vivid is April 25, 1998, when Garrison brought his show to the North Country. He had driven up on his own from New York the day before, because he said he wanted to see the country. It was a few months after the devastating ice storm that brought down power lines and trees all across our region. He got out of the car in Potsdam and said to me, “You people deserve a good show.” And he gave us one, with La Boutine Souriante and Kate MacKenzie and stories about hockey and heart. It was a night to remember for sure.
What’s your best memory of Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion?