Keillor says he's rethinking retirement

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 3, 2011 - 9:35 PM

After saying in March that he planned to quit "A Prairie Home Companion," his widely popular radio show, Garrison Keillor is taking another look at hanging it all up.

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In March, Garrison Keillor told the AARP Bulletin, the organization's newsletter, that he was quitting "A Prairie Home Companion" in spring 2013 if he could find a replacement. But now it appears he has a change of heart, unable to part with his widely popular radio show.

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Garrison Keillor's flirtation with retirement continues.

In March, he told the AARP Bulletin, the organization's newsletter, that he was quitting "A Prairie Home Companion" in spring 2013 if he could find a replacement. But now it appears he has had a change of heart, unable to part with his widely popular radio show.

Keillor told the Sioux City Journal this week that he contemplated quitting the show, "And then it panicked me ... which got me to rethinking the whole brilliant idea."

"The show is going well. I love doing it. Why quit?" he told the Iowa newspaper by phone from his New York home.

Keillor wasn't available Saturday because of rehearsal for his show, but spokesman David O'Neill confirmed the report.

"He doesn't have any specific plans to retire," O'Neill said Saturday. "He's still having a lot of fun doing the show."

In fact, Keillor, who will turn 70 in August, is showing no signs of slowing down. When he's not doing "Prairie Home Companion," he's hosting a one-man show in cities or trekking across the country from Florida to New York. "PHC," which started in 1974, now has 4 million listeners on 590 stations.

In 2009, Keillor had a minor stroke and has since publicly contemplated quitting the show. That year, he told the Star Tribune that he wasn't "counting on doing it more than a couple more years." A year later, he said he was going to change his life in a year or two. And then in January he had singer/fiddler Sara Watkins host the show for one night, saying then that "I'm not sure that a person ought to be doing this much beyond 70."

But even in his March AARP interview, Keillor was hesitant about truly giving up the gig.

"I sure don't want to make a fool of myself and be singing romantic duets with 25-year-old women when I'm 75," he told the organization. "But on the other hand, it's so much fun. And in radio, the lighting is right."

Keillor quit the show in 1987, moved to Denmark and then New York City, where he launched a different weekly program until reviving "PHC" in 1993 in St. Paul.

Recently, the show mourned the loss of longtime radio sound-effects master Tom Keith, who died Oct. 30 of a heart attack.

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141

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