I am truly devastated to report that Garrison Keillor will be “stepping down” next year after 42 inspirational years in bringing A Prairie Home Companion to avid listeners of NPR. Apparently, this landmark in Midwestern radio nostalgia will not die as Garrison is in discussions with Chris Thile, “the one-time child prodigy mandolinist for Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers,” to keep the show alive with perhaps more emphasis on music.
Will devout fans and occasional listeners (like me) support the transition? I have no idea, but Garrison is an icon of Americana radio theater that probably should have faded into oblivion many years ago:
But is that why listeners tune in week after week? I suspect not. What they want is to hear Keillor’s self-consciously cheesy skits—Guy Noir and the American Duct Tape Council and the old-school radio special-effects gags. And, of course, they want to hear Keillor’s soothing, mellow relation of that week’s news from the fictional Lake Wobegon. What Keillor is offering listeners is a set of comfy, musty, fusty, and dusty Midwestern roots: “The little town that time forgot, and the decades cannot improve.” It’s a place the listeners probably didn’t come from—these are coastal NPR elites, after all—and that never existed anyway, which is the attraction: familiar enough to soothe, fictional enough to be endearing. Read more in The Atlantic . . .
For those who have not had the pleasure to listen to one of Garrison’s “cheesy skits,” book reviews or humorous banter, I hardily recommend famed director Robert Altman‘s last film which features Garrison and an all-star cast closing down A Prairie Home Companion, which is portrayed as a “dusty” relic that needs to be dropped off at a Goodwill center.
I am truly very sad!