Writers never retire. Perhaps that’s why A Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor has announced and recanted his retirement so many times.
In fact, Garrison has “retired” so often the Minneapolis Star Tribune has called him “the Brett Favre of broadcast radio.” Well, this time he means it, and he’s hanging up his microphone in July, 2016, The Associated Press reported.
“I have a lot of other things that I want to do. I mean, nobody retires anymore. Writers never retire. But this is my last season. This tour this summer is the farewell tour,” said Keillor, 72.
For now, those “things” are vague and include traveling. Keillor lamented to the AP that every time he’s visited a new place, he’s been working and thus, hasn’t enjoyed anything.
“I’ve been everywhere, and I’ve seen very little. I’ve seen a lot of hotels, a lot of airports, I’ve seen the backseats of cabs and I’ve seen back stages of theaters… I go to all these wonderful places and I never walk around and I never see things.”
But Garrison isn’t going to completely disappear; after all, writers never retire. He’ll be an executive producer on A Prairie Home Companion alongside his successor, Chris Thile, 34, the San Diego Union Tribune added. Keillor would also like to appear as a guest, or even just “stand in the wings and wind up microphone cord.”
But he will no longer tell stories. The monologue “News from Lake Wobegon,” in which Garrison tells folksy tales about his fictional Minnesota hometown “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average,” is over. His stories about detective Guy Noir and modern-day cowboys Dusty and Lefty are also being retired.
For Garrison’s replacement, the end of the Wobegon stories is the end of an area.
“I grew up listening to that show. Some of my earlier musical memories are from it.”
But the San Diego native, personally tapped by Keillor to be his successor, will bring back the show’s musical roots. The Grammy-winning mandolin-player, new father, and husband to actress Claire Cofee is the co-founder of bluegrass trio Nickel Creek. He also formed quintet Punch Drunk, the Tribune reported.
Thile has guest-hosted before. He first appeared on A Prairie Home Companion when he was 15.
As Garrison’s fans weep their way to next July, enjoying the last tales from Lake Wobegon, the veteran broadcaster and storyteller has this silver lining: a possible movie is in the works, to follow up the 2006 release of a film version of the show.
Keillor has finished a screenplay based in his fictional town. In it, a young man goes home for his dad’s funeral and ends up reigniting a romance with his high school girlfriend.
“It’s got a funeral, it’s got a big Fourth of July parade, and it’s got, you know, two people taking each other’s clothes off. Everything we look for in a movie.”
[Photo Courtesy of Erik Hageness]