Garrison Keillor

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Winning Nomination

Minnesota is home to many cultures within a culture, and Garrison Keillor’s radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, captures one of those cultures brilliantly. Millions of listeners enjoy these Minnesota stories every week, around the nation and around the globe. Keillor’s creativity has put Minnesota on the proverbial world map.
~Julie Penk, Golden Valley, MN



Runner-up Nominations

I have nominated Garrison Keillor because I believe he has created one of the best radio shows that mixes real-life storytelling with comedy. He was born in 1942 in Anoka, Minnesota. He started writing articles for the New Yorker in 1969. He started A Prairie Home Companion on July 6th, 1974 in a St. Paul College in front of 12 people.
~Esrea Perez-Bill, Minneapolis, MN

The Prairie Home Companion Show Garrison Keillor first aired his now famous radio variety show on July, 1971 at Macalester College's Janet Wallace Auditorium. It is now one of the most popular programs on public radio and, of course, was recently featured in a movie. In addition to being good entertainment, it deserves inclusion because it has introduced all of the country to a mythical Minnesota, even if it is mostly fictional. It has also been primarily responsible for the financial success of MPR.

This nomination could instead be for Garrison Keillor himself, since he has also been a prolific writer of short stories and novels, most of which are set in Minnesota.
~Steve Trimble, St. Paul, MN

He must have been suggested many times. He gave a voice to Minnesotans.
~K. M. Bouman, Edwardsville, IL

Lake Wobegon I nominate Lake Wobegon because it sums up everything that Minnesota represents to the country--one large, friendly community.
~Nathan Saete, Oakdale, MN

He epitomizes - and describes so well - who we are, even if we live elsewhere in the world.
~Marcy Hultquist, Tucker, GA

Garrison Keillor is known all over the country for his radio show and humor, which is universal. Sophisticated east coasters understand his characters as readily as do we in the Midwest. He transcends boundaries.
~Caarol Hall, Woodbury, MN

The Prairie Home Show Each week, people all over the country get a picture of a mythical Minnesota town via this radio show. It is a place we Minnesotans all recognize, although we have never been there. It captures perfectly an image of ourselves we hold dear from memory.
~Ann Ruhl Carlson

World-known hometown boy. Apreciates life in MN. Very publicly active.
~Melanie LaBrie, Rosemount, MN

All over the world people are interested in the culture of the USA. How fortunate we are to have Garrison Keillor as our spokesman - not only for the Midwest, but for Minnesota. His wholesome upbringing shows in his character, and he has excelled in his books, radio show and film.
~Denise DeJarlais, St. Paul, MN

Garrison's radio program Prairie Home Companion put Minnesota back on the map for the nation as opposed to being the flyover state. His storytelling, characters and use of sound effects restored the lost medium of radio. I'm sure he has already been nominated.
~Connie Fournier

Mr. Keillor's warm, humorous stories provide a look at the lives of kind and gentle and also reserved MN citizens. His radio show and now movies as well as his writings are known internationally.
~Carol Whalen, Minneapolis, MN

My husband I rarely miss a Sat. evening broadcast - provides a bright spot in the week we can enjoy together.
~Diane LeClair, Hastings, MN


Contents

History

(1942- )

Tuning in to Minnesota culture

In November 2006, Garrison Keillor opened a bookstore in a quiet, upscale St. Paul neighborhood. The news of the opening, like most news related to the "Old Scout," elicited much and varied commentary. Here's one blogger's reaction: "Opening a bookstore, eh? I suppose the progression makes good sense: writer, radio performer, novelist, public radio mogul, screenwriter, movie star--now, bookstore owner! Only one slot left after that: the Pope of Minnesota."

Okay, the point is well taken: Garrison Keillor is a resounding success in a number of fields, and that success is due in large part to his acute observations of the local scene. Keillor doesn't just happen to be from here--he's a performer who trades on being from here. Keillor has given the world an interpretation of Minnesota life that some view as accurate while others say evokes a time that never was. But love it or loathe it, Keillor's Minnesota is known worldwide. Ask anyone who's recently returned to Minnesota from far-flung travels, and you'll get the same story: when the subject of Minnesota comes up, people mention Prince, the Mall of America, and Garrison Keillor--and not necessarily in that order.

How did this happen? Gary Edward Keillor was born in 1942 in Anoka, Minnesota, a small town about a half hour's drive from downtown St. Paul. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in English in 1966; three years later, he began working for Minnesota Public Radio, hosting the morning drive-time show, A Prairie Home Companion. From 1974 until 1987, and again from 1993 to the present, Keillor has hosted a successful radio variety show that showcases his folksy, carefully crafted stories of life in the fictional town of Lake Wobegon. Along the way, he has published several best-selling books and made regular appearances in the New Yorker and, more recently, on websites, including Salon.com; in 2006, he wrote the script for and appeared in Robert Altman's last film, A Prairie Home Companion.

Today, Keillor's radio show reaches millions of listeners each week via more than 600 public radio stations. He's at the top of his game but insists that he will retire soon, content to spend his time at home with his family and in his St. Paul bookstore. It could happen; or, perhaps, in the life of this champion storyteller, the next chapter has yet to be written.

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