Some People Can Just Walk Away

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Tonight is Garrison Keillor’s last as host of NPR’s (actually, not NPR… but that’s another story) long running “A Prairie Home Companion.” The new guy’s already been picked, there’s no turning back.

Keillor is an enigma because it’s easy to say, “What’s his talent?” He is not show biz obvious.

Garrison Keillor and I stand on this Earth as opposites. He is a Protestant, born and raised in a very white, very rural, environmentally difficult environment. Not me.

One night while driving home from NYC with Stef I switched him on. I thought Stef was asleep. Maybe she was at the beginning.

When we got home she made fun of his audience shoutouts (“To my Aunt Bertha who just had a hip replaced…”), corny jokes and horrible taste in music. I’m with her on that last one.

That’s when it struck me why APHC is so good. It’s not just what’s happening on one show, it’s the amazing consistency. When Keillor reads an audience member’s card long time listeners get it more because we know him well. We know the unnamed characters who appear each and every week and have developed consistent personalities.

Four decades.

There’s another reason I like the show. It represents the last live big time on-stage radio show left. Like Benny and Hope there’s a cast of regulars and a band. Everyone sings and joins in the skits. A well preserved relic of times-gone-by.

“A Prairie Home Companion” was not a weekly ritual for me. It is for some. If I was in the car and it was on I always listened.

Garrison Keillor is sensible and level headed. To a large extent we share values. He will be missed.

4 Responses to “Some People Can Just Walk Away”

  1. Mike Krauss says:

    Garrison Keillor was the last of the radio “guys.” I stumbled on his show about 20 years or so ago. Its simplicity, down “homeness” and the funky programming became a favorite pastime to me on Saturday evenings. The goofy/fun names of people and places and the continuity of the themes and music was entertaining, humorous and opened my eyes to American life in the Midwest and its contrast to, let’s say, my “hometown” of Woodmont, CT!!! That said this show and Garrison Keillor will be missed,

  2. Melanie says:

    I’m listening to it now – I have listened to it off and on for many years, but I won’t after he’s gone. There’s something about his humor and his tone that is unique. I could do without most of the music, but the chance to hear a literate, witty, (admittedly liberal) voice on national media is rare. I hope he’ll be well and able to write and do what he wants for many years to come. Sad night.

  3. meredith says:

    I’ve had a few personal friends on PHC as musical guests, so I take exception with the “horrible taste in music” comment. 🙂 But I agree with the rest. It’s the end of an era.

  4. Barb B says:

    I’ve been a weekly listener of PHC since we moved back to CT in ’85. My sisters turned me on to his show. We are folk show people since that music genre began, and Garrison had many of the musicians on that we had followed over the years. He’s been trying to retire now, for a few years–his first attempt about 2 yrs ago failed because ‘we’ the audience turned off the person he had first designated to take the show over. I am not sure how this new fellow will do, and even if he adds new music, it just won’t be the same. It seems as though much of his band will stay on, for the present, with this new host. Much of the fun, this year has been being able to watch his show over the internet. I think there were 4 or 5 shows done this way—and watching the last 2 shows, as his time was winding down, –well, the show went on, for us viewers, a good 30-45 minutes after the radio sign off occurred. I wanted to go to Tanglewood, but not alone. I loved listening to his monologues because he told stories from the heart and some of his experiences just as my husband did on a Sunday morning, in the pulpit. And watching an ‘old fashioned’ radio show brought me back to childhood and going to NYC-Rockefeller Center and watching radio shows with the sound effects man, etc. Yep, he will be missed.

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