Garrison Keillor, Creator and Host Emeritus
Garrison Keillor was born in 1942 in Anoka, Minnesota, and began his radio career as a freshman at the University of Minnesota, from which he graduated in 1966. He went to work for Minnesota Public Radio in 1969, and from July 6, 1974 through July 1, 2016, he created and hosted his popular variety show, A Prairie Home Companion, for some 3.5 million listeners on 700 public radio stations coast to coast and beyond. Keillor has been honored with Grammy, ACE, and George Foster Peabody awards, the National Humanities Medal, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His many books include Lake Wobegon Days, The Book of Guys, Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance, Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny, and The Keillor Reader (Viking). He is the host of the daily program The Writer’s Almanac and the editor of several anthologies of poetry, most recently, Good Poems: American Places (Viking). In 2006, Keillor played himself in the movie adaptation of his show, a film directed by Robert Altman. He has two grandsons and in 2007, he opened an independent bookstore, Common Good Books, in St. Paul, the city where he and his wife and daughter make their home.
Visit Garrison’s official website for more about his non-APHC projects, including books, columns, and solo appearances.
A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, A Brief History
If you showed up on July 6, 1974, at the Janet Wallace Auditorium at Macalester College in Saint Paul and plunked down your $1 admission (50 cents for kids) to attend the very first broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, you were in select company. There were about 12 people in the audience. But those in attendance thought there were worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon, so Garrison Keillor and the APHC team went on to produce close to 500 live shows in the first 10 years alone. There were broadcasts from this venue and that, until March 4, 1978, when the show moved to The World Theater, a lovely, crumbling building that was one plaster crack away from the wrecking ball. (Now fully renovated and renamed the Fitzgerald Theater, it is the show’s home base.)
In June of 1987, APHC ended for a while. Garrison thought it was a good idea at the time, but only two years later, the show was back, based in New York and called American Radio Company of the Air. But there’s no place like home. So in 1992, it was back to Minnesota and, soon after, back to the old name: A Prairie Home Companion.
There were plenty of adventures over 42 years — broadcasts from Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany, Iceland and almost every one of the 50 states; wonderful performers, little-known and world-renowned; standing ovations and stares of bewilderment. We missed planes, coped with lost luggage, dodged swooping bats and hungry mosquitoes, plodded through blizzards, and flew by the seat of our pants.
Garrison recalled, “When the show started, it was something funny to do with my friends, and then it became an achievement that I hoped would be successful, and now it’s a good way of life.”