The golden age of radio ended a long time before Garrison Keillor's distinct, melodic baritone voice was sent over the airwaves. But his much-loved radio show A Prairie Home Companion-- heard locally Saturday evenings (and rebroadcast Sunday mornings) on WLRN-FM (91.3) -- transports listeners to another place with its quirky mixture of skits, songs, and special guests. Steeped heavily in Midwestern small-town values but laced with a healthy dose of New York cynicism, the show is heard live by more than 4 million people weekly on 558 public radio channels across the nation.
Keillor is not just a soothing voice but also the author of books for both young and old, including Wobegon Boy and Home on the Prairie: Stories from Lake Wobegon. His imagination is responsible for Companion's fictional commercial spots and cast of characters: the hardly hard-boiled detective Guy Noir, Powdermilk Biscuits, the Catchup Advisory Board, and Café Boeuf (all registered trademarks, by the way). But it is the detailed stories of his fictional hometown, Lake Wobegon, the Gateway to Central Minnesota(r), that are the most famous and have showcased his talent for storytelling.
Since 1974, Keillor and company have broadcast A Prairie Home Companion live. The show started in St. Paul, Minnesota, and stayed there for almost 14 years. Then, after a two-year hiatus, the assembled players moved to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1989, albeit it as the American Radio Company. You can always take the small-town boy out of the small town, but Minnesota has always been Keillor's home, and the show returned there as A Prairie Home Companion in 1993.
But while the Gopher State is the show's home base, Keillor and company take it on the road often, allowing both cast and writers to tell tales of the Midwest to those unfamiliar with the region. And they poke fun at the locals every chance they get.