A Prairie Home Companion

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A Prairie Home Companion's 2005 Rhubarb Tour: Prudence Johnson and Garrison Keillor, live on stage at Shelburne, Vermont

A Prairie Home Companion is a live radio variety show created and hosted by Garrison Keillor. The show runs on Saturdays from 5 to 7 pm Central Time. It is usually broadcast from the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The program is also taken on the road. A Prairie Home Companion is known for its musical guests, especially folk and traditional musicians. It is also known for its tongue-in-cheek humor and Keillor's storytelling segment, "News from Lake Wobegon".

The radio program inspired a 2006 film of the same name, written by Keillor, directed by Robert Altman, and featuring Keillor, Lily Tomlin, Meryl Streep, Lindsay Lohan, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kline, John C. Reilly, and Woody Harrelson.

History[change | change source]

Sign for a fictional sponsor of the radio show "A Prairie Home Companion"

A Prairie Home Companion started as a morning show, running from 6 to 9 am on Minnesota Public Radio.[1] The first program aired on 6 July 1974 before an audience of 12 people.[2] The idea for the name came from a cemetery in Moorhead, Minnesota called the Prairie Home.[1] It was located across the street from the radio station.[3]

In April of 1974, Keillor traveled to Nashville. This was the last broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry from the old Ryman Auditorium and Keillor was doing a story for The New Yorker Magazine.[1] He decided to host a variety show based on that format on the radio. On July 6, 1974, the first live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion took place.[4]

In 1978, the show moved into the World Theater in Saint Paul, Minnesota.[a] In 1987, he decided to move to Denmark with his new wife.[5] He then moved to New York City. In 1989 he began a new show "The American Radio Company of the Air."[5] The format was the same, but the program was geared to the New York audience. But after four seasons he moved back to Minnesota and brought back the Prairie Home Companion.[5]

In 1985, the program was taped for audiences in Australia and Sweden.[2] In 1990 digital tapes were rebroadcast in Tiwan. By 1995 the program was rebroadcast in numerous countries via satellite.[2]

Program[change | change source]

Music is a main feature of the program. It includes many different kinds of music, including country, bluegrass, blues, and gospel. The program also has guest performers from a wide variety of other styles of music, including classical, opera and music from a number of different countries.

News from Lake Wobegon[change | change source]

One of the show's best-known features is Keillor's "News from Lake Wobegon". This is a weekly storytelling monologue, claiming to be a report from Keillor's fictitious hometown of Lake Wobegon.[6] The segment always begins with "It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone, my hometown."[7] It almost always ends with "And that's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."[7]

Sponsors[change | change source]

Because the program is aired on public broadcasting radio, they are not allowed to have real advertisements. Instead, the show produces fictional advertisements for fictional products. The ads are performed in the style of live old-time radio commercials. The show is "sponsored" by fictitious products including "Powdermilk Biscuits", "Cafe Boeuf" and the "American Duct Tape Council".[8]

The program recently celebrated its 40th year.[4]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. It was renovated in 1986 and renamed the Fitzgerald Theater in 1994. This is the same location that the program uses today.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Biographical Dictionary of Radio, ed. Christopher H. Sterling (New York; Oxford: Routledge, 2011), p. 209
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 U.S. Congress, Congressional Record, Vol. 146, Pt. 3 (March 21, 2000 to April 4, 2000), p. 3347
  3. Noah Adams, et al., This Is NPR: The First Forty Years (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2010), p. 74
  4. 4.0 4.1 Megan Thompson (5 July 2014). "Public radio's iconic 'Prairie Home Companion' celebrates 40 years". PBS / NewsHour Productions. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Loyal Jones, Country Music Humorists and Comedians (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008), pp. 229–30
  6. Judith Yaross Lee, Twain's Brand: Humor in Contemporary American Culture (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012), p. 46
  7. 7.0 7.1 A Place Called Home: Writings on the Midwestern Small Town, eds. Richard O. Davies; David R. Pichaske; Joseph Anthony Amato (St. Paul, MN: Borealis Books, 2003), p. 349
  8. James Kaplan, 'A Garrison Keillor Fan is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful... Is this New York?', The New Yorker Magazine, Vol. 28, No. 1 (2 January 1995), p. 54

Other websites[change | change source]