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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

Garrison Keillor's Finale Saturday: Farewell To Our Weekly Companion

John Kiesewetter

Garrison Keillor goes Hollywood? Stop the presses in Lake Wobegone!

For his final public radio live broadcast after 42 years as host, Keillor takes "A Prairie Home Companion" far from Minnesota (and the prairie) to the Hollywood Bowl 6-8 p.m. Saturday.

Keillor, who turns 74 in August, brings back some of his favorite singers for duets on his finale: Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, Aoife, O'Donovan, Heather Masse, and Christine DiGiallonardo.

Of course, private eye Guy Noir will be there, along with the Royal Academy of Radio Actors (Tim Russell, Sue Scott, sound effects man Fred Newman) and the Prairie Bowl Band led by pianist Richard Dworsky.

And Sarah Bellum too. That's the pen name Keillor has used to write the "APHC" scripts from his fertile cerebellum, and to knock out the news from Lake Woebegone, the little town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve.

With Keillor handing over the show this fall to musician Chris Thile, Saturdays won't be the same. To me, that means no more wonderful Cincinnati stories from Keillor.

During Thanksgiving weekend broadcasts from here in the past he's reminisced about Cincinnati's rich broadcasting history: Roy Rogers, King Records, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, guitarist Chet Atkins, WLW-AM (and Over-the-Rhine's architecture). He told how Chet Atkins stayed at the old YMCA on Central Parkway in 1945, and walked up the street to WLW-AM'sCrosley Square at Ninth & Elm Sts. He asked the audience to sing with him "Happy Trails To You," Roy Rogers' theme song.

I'll miss that more than the news from Lake Wobegone or Powdermilk Biscuits. (You can send thank you messages to Keillor at the Prairiehome website here.) 

I'm sure Thile will keep the 1930s live radio format going eight decades later. But I'll miss the old storyteller in the red gym shoes at the microphone, my Saturday night companion ….. The guy who penned this poem printed in the program for the "A Prairie Home Companion" broadcast from Music Hall on Nov. 29, 2008:

I'm a radio man for thirty-some years

Doing an old variety show

Stolen from some I used to hear

When I was your age, long ago.

Critics pointed out my debts

To Bob & Ray and Garry Moore

But alcohol and cigarettes

Shows those critics out the door.

And to twenty-year-olds who were born

Too late to hear the great Fred Allen,

I'm the creator of the form,

Sailing the airwaves like Magellan.

If a thief escapes and is not hung

He may be honored by the young.

--Garrison Keillor

John Kiesewetter joined the WVXU news team as a TV/Media blogger on July 1 2015, after nearly 30 years covering local and national broadcasting for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He’ll be posting news about Greater Cincinnati TV, radio and movies; updating your favorite former local TV/radio personalities or stars who grew up here; and breaking news about national TV, radio and media trends. You’ll also learn about Cincinnati’s rich broadcasting history.