Full disclosure: I’ve loved Prairie Home Companion since the first time I heard it. While Garrison Keillor’s politics were…not ones I share – I (like a lot of conservatives) can put politics aside for good art and entertainment. Which, if you grew up small-town and Scandinavian, Keillor was.

But I also remember his reputation as a boss in the eighties – let’s just say in an industry (radio in general) where people are dysfunctional, socially “unorthodox” and frequently lack conventional social skills (present company excepted, but I know you know what I mean, Bob), and where success breeds rock-star-like entitlement, Keillor was a standout. Not in a good way.

Keillor has to be a non-fictional character – because if you wrote a fictional smug, entitled, presumptuous, arrogant, hypocritical limo liberal like Keillor, you’d be accused, fairly, of going past satire straight to caricature.

Anyway – immediately after Keillor wrote an op-ed in the WaPo condemning the commoners besetting Al Franken, Keillor is out at MPR  (and their APM production arm) for none other than sexual harassment.

Minnesota Public Radio and its parent organization American Public Media said Wednesday they’ve cut all business ties with Garrison Keillor as they investigate a report of “inappropriate behavior” by Keillor involving someone who worked with him…The allegations relate to Keillor’s conduct while he was responsible for the production of “A Prairie Home Companion.” They came to the company’s attention last month and were referred to a special committee of its board for investigation, APM chief executive Jon McTaggart said.

We don’t know all the details – but remembering Keillor in his heyday, nothing would really surprise me, in my humble but not-utterly-uninformed opinion. .

21 thoughts on “Hebegone

  1. I remember driving through a blizzard to attend an airing of Prairie Home Companion. This was back in the mid 70’s when the show was in the Park Square Theater. My girlfriend and I were the only ones in the audience.

    I loved the show that much.

    But success got the better of Keillor and his smug, entitled, presumptuous, arrogant, hypocritical limo liberal personality bled into the show.

    These days when I hear the opening bars of PHC, it makes my skin crawl.

  2. I have to add that my experience with Prairie Home Companion echoes my experience with MPR. I used to listen to the station nonstop. I volunteered for their fund-raisers and participated in their forums and programs.

    It didn’t bother me that they were liberal until their liberalism became toxic. Now, I struggle to listen to MPR for more than 10 minutes……because they never go beyond 10 minutes without obsessing about race, gender, LGBT or Trump.

  3. I do listen to MPR for the news – they’ve still good news department in general.

    But when I listen to any narrative programming from NPR, I’m tempted to start a pool: will the subject of the interview turn out to be:
    – An “Undocumented immigrant”
    – “Afroqueer”
    – (Short list of other current hot-button PC identities)

  4. ” . . . conservatives can put politics aside for good art and entertainment. Which, if you grew up small-town and Scandinavian, Keillor was.”

    This is exactly right.

    I was not a fan of the old-tyme folk music but the commercials were clever (“Bertha’s Kitty Boutique located in the Dales – Roy and Dale, Airedale, Teasdale, Chippendale, Mondale and other fine shopping centers”) and News from Lake Woebegone was pure story-telling art. Yes, the stories were snarky, poking fun at small-towners; but I grew up in a small town, I moved away to the sophisticated big city, and I remember all those people back home, only with different names. For a while, I skipped the first hour and just tuned in for that part of the show.

    I still have a small red lapel button saying “I Saved the World,” which I got for donating to the restoration of the World Theatre in downtown St. Paul where A Prairie Home Companion appeared, in the days when Stony Lonesome was the house band. That was also the last time I donated to Minnesota Public Radio.

  5. I liked PHC until I stopped. But I always suspected Keillor’s shyness shtick. Here’s a guy who claims to be cripplingly shy, and yet manages to be married multiple times, with girlfriends in between. In my world, that’s not shyness. That’s a well-practiced, passive-aggressive seduction technique. One which only works if you’re rich and famous.

  6. Something is missing from the Keillor saga. Yeah, MPR wants to be in the “no woman lies about this stuff” camp but a pat on the back leading to a Soviet-like get-rid-of-his-name-and-airbrush-him-from-the-photos seems like a wild overreaction. What else does MPR know?

  7. Per what Lars and Reader15 mention, it takes some doing for a guy whose persona for decades is “come in looking like you slept on a park bench with a newspaper for a blanket” to get all those wives and girlfriends. Yasure, I tink he’s been workin’ the fame and power angle, to put it mildly. Guy definitely has a great face for radio.

  8. I too was a Keillor fan back in the day. And by that I mean when his morning show was broadcast from Collegeville and at 6AM I’d awaken to the Beach Boys singing “Help Me Rhonda.” And remained a fan for quite some time, even when my snobby East Coast relatives “discovered” him. Then he started fighting with his neighbors in St Paul and went off to Europe to marry a Danish girl and things changed. Something died and left a big stink. He became the kind of person he used to lampoon in his News from Lake Wobegon schtick: rigid in opinion, nasty and vindictive toward people he didn’t like. I haven’t listened in quite a few years. And I recall some insider stuff I heard from a now deceased friend who played with the Middlespunk Creek Boys, that the departure of legends Bill Hinkley and Judy Larson from the Prairie Home Companion was rather ugly and unbecoming. Just a rumor though.

  9. golfdoc50,
    Mary Dushane was always uncharacteristically circumspect when talking about “King Keillor”(as she dubbed him).

  10. IIRC, in order to marry the Danish woman, Keillor had to break up with his long-time lady-friend – who just so happened to be his producer or an exec at MPR or something similar. Makes you wonder a bit about that office romance.

  11. I haven’t listened to any MPR station [1] other than Classical MPR for more than a decade. Now that my AT&T data plan has grown in size to the point that I never come close to hitting my limit, during the weeks that the pledge drive takes place, I stream classical.

    I have never donated a single cent to M/N/APR, and I won’t as long as they receive a single cent of public funding. If that ever manages to go away, I derive enough benefit from 99.5 that I’d be willing to sign up for $5/mo.

    [1] By choice that is. When you’re driving in the middle of nowhere and the only things that come in are “All Things Considered” or hip hop, well…..what’re ya gonna do? And yes, “turn off the radio” was an option, but I needed background noise.

  12. I grew up with PHC. It was a ritual in our family that we would have the radio on during Saturday dinner and listen to PHC (I would sometimes also record it with a cassette tape and relisten to some of the sketches during the week) and it was something that we all enjoyed doing together. I had most of Keillor’s books (Happy to be Here, WLT a Love Story, Lake Woebegone Days) and they are still enjoyable rereads. The man is an immense talent even if his politics are toxic. It didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the show and I still enjoy it.

  13. I too was a fan and listener way back when, for me the ensemble of the show made it entertaining, but the more Keilor’s politics and personality came to light I got turned off and quit tuning in.

  14. I shouldn’t presume to speak for Learned Foot, but it strikes me that, as most of the members of Iron Maiden are family men married to their first wives, Iron Maiden has a lot to teach certain Democrats in politics and entertainment, don’t you think?

  15. Doesn’t APM/MPR owe him a ton of money in residuals for the properties he created that they are still profiting, ahem, not-for-profiting from? It strikes me that the worst place to be is between Lefties and money (just ahead of being within 50 yards of the target of a drive by) and cutting ties with him by changing the name of his prime property gets them out of paying him.

  16. seflores
    they decided to can Keillor a month ago
    – the lag between decision and execution was to give the lawyers time to work out the separation details
    – then once that was in place look for a story that’s got legs ( Matt Lauer) to hit the news so MPR can announce Keillors termination knowing that the other story (Lauer) will keep them out of the national spotlight for any length of time, thus minimizing the damage Keillor will do to their brand.

  17. Apparently, in contrast to other esteemed commenters here, I never much cared for Keillor or PHP. Not for political reasons, I just found it to be somewhat cloying.

    Regardless, I’m struck by how many really seem/seemed to like PHP and Keillor’s role in that, until… (thorleywinston’s comment excepted). What a shame. In many way ways this is similar to what happened to the political scene in the state of MN from the 60s to now. Which led me to conclude that this is a textbook example of how lefties can never leave a Good Thing alone without ruining it. And it’s never their fault.

  18. MW, I hadn’t noticed that about the month’s wait. One would infer, then, that either (a) they didn’t give Keillor a chance to defend himself or (b) Keillor wrote his defense of Franken knowing that he was on his way out of MPR.

    Or maybe both. This one could get even more entertaining than it already is. If (a), all that legal prep was for nothing, and a huge legal fight could be in order, and if (b), Keillor would have knowingly put a huge stain on any hope of a career going forward. (munches popcorn)

  19. If we’re going to try these things in the court of public opinion then the election of Trump settled it.

  20. For decades I loved to listen to PHC. My whole Saturday schedule was built to make sure I was doing an activity where I could listen while I worked or ate. Being a small town MN boy myself, I could absolutely relate to everything being reported. I loved the musical acts, Guy Noir, the cowboy sketches, etc. Loved it. Started to really flip on it when Garrison went after George Bush. It just was mean-spirited and unfunny. So I stopped listening and found other more interesting things on Saturday (like the Northern Alliance…)

    As I knew from news reports about Garrison’s life I also had a familial relationship with a person on Garrison’s staff. The reactions from that person when discussing Garrison made me think that there was a bit of tension on the staff. As mentioned above, Garrison’s first marriage ended and he moved in with the producer of the show. OK connect the dots people, late night working sessions, all alone, big upcoming talent (snicker, snicker)…there is a reason for the first marriage failing and a new squeeze. Then another new woman in his life, then another. Really, call me boring but I am still hooked up with my first wife and going into our 4th decade together. His boorish, better-than-thou attitude is also a dead-giveaway that he probably thinks of himself that way in a completely wholistic way. That adds up to trouble when he has become a powerful media mogul.

    The rumors were out there for some time, the facts were out there, and his own statements give him away.

    Today I had the opportunity to hear a lot of MPR. Hearing the liberal teeth crunching on liberal bones gave me such schadenfreude, I should be happy for the next 60 days. The callers were absolutely dumping on MPR for dumping Garrison. Many and I mean many were planning on pulling their pledges. So I guess they won’t be upset if the feds pull their funding as well. Quick someone call Congress. Defund NPR completely and blame it on Garrison. Call the legacy amendment slush fund hog sloppers and stop all funding of MPR/APM.

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