Garrison Keillor, Goodbye


Garrison Keillor, Goodbye

Garrison Keillor has been a fixture on Public Radio for almost 50 years and became an iconic figure in radio broadcasting. He started the show called A Prairie Home Companion in 1971 and I started listening on a somewhat regular basis in about 1972 after we moved back out to Sandy Point. We had a TV antenna on a mast with a rotor to turn it and got a few channels back then but nothing like the number of channels we get now. On Saturday evenings when we were home there was not much on TV anyway at that time of day so I would listen to his show. I have his book about Lake Wobegon around somewhere, too.

I have read some articles where they tried to sum up Keillor’s reasons for success and most have trouble doing it. He has skits on the show with the help of a number of regulars and he has invited guests, like Paul Simon who was on a few days back. Keillor sings on the show but would not be able to make a living singing. Yet, on the show, he sounds great. He often harmonizes with the other singers.

Keillor has made the show what it is. And, it just can’t be the same show without him anymore than The Bob Hope Show would have been the Bob Hope Show without Bob Hope. Said another way, Garrison Keillor is one of a kind.

He writes a lot of material and is a humorist with a touch of wisdom and insight and political satire. Keillor is a master story teller. All of his talents together along with the ensemble have made him a favorite of about 4 million listeners every week. Some of his shows in recent history have been available to be seen on the internet. Watching a radio variety show on your Smart TV is kind of an unusual experience.

Keillor is about 6’4” tall, wears funny looking shoes and actually is a little dumpy looking and when he is doing the show he stoops over the microphone like a big teddy bear carrying around the script in his hand in many cases. I’m fairly certain he does not have a hair stylist, either. All together these mannerisms and attributes have made him a great success and he has presented a show week after week that the whole family could listen to and go see when it was in the area without fear of unsavory material being presented.

His talent and the blends of other talents that he has brought to the show over the years are incredible and his shows sell out wherever he goes to do the show each week. His home theater in St. Paul has seen his last performance I believe.

Mr. Keillor is retiring in a few weeks and I see no chance of anyone replacing him on the show that can carry it on with the same following that exists today.  A Prairie Home Companion will not be the same.

He has had a young man named Chris Thile as his designated replacement and he has been a guest on the show and also served as a guest host. Thile is a master of the mandolin and plays a whole host of instruments but lacks in the charm, humor and style of Keillor. Those funny looking shoes will be hard, if not impossible, to fill.

On one show Thile seemed to play the mandolin for about 2 hours and that is about 110 minutes too much mandolin playing at one time for me. I guess time will tell as to how the show fares with Keillor gone and Thile taking the lead but I don’t expect to listen very much. It will be very tempting to walk away or turn on the TV after the first 5 minutes of mandolin playing. And I can’t see Thile doing exciting and interesting monologues either.

So, it’s Goodbye Garrison Keillor. Hello Chris Thile.  And, maybe, Goodbye to A Prairie Home Companion, too.

I will miss Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion as I have known it over the years but I likely will not go out of my way to hear the show once he’s gone.

So, Goodbye, Garrison Keillor, and thanks!


© JC 2016



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