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