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Chris Thile/ courtesy of the Walker Art Center
For only the second time in "Prairie Home Companion"'s 40-year history, Garrison Keillor is turning over hosting duties to someone else.
The Feb. 7 and 14 shows will be hosted by Chris Thile, a mandolinist for the Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek.
The only other other substitution happened in 2011, when Thile's Nickel Creek band mate Sara Watkins took over with Keillor watching from the wings.
"'Prairie Home' has been a pretty dependable show and now and then it likes to do something entirely different," Keillor said in a press release. "I look forward to sitting at home and listening."
Keillor will be at the helm for the other four broadcasts in January and February.
Upcoming guests include Nellie McKay, The Gibson Brothers, Heather Masse, Robbie Fulks and the Punch Brothers.
Tickets for the next six shows, which kick off Jan. 17, will be available starting Tuesday at the Fitzgerald Theater or at www.eTix.com.
Carol Rueppel (pictured), the vice president and general manager at KMSP for the past 13 years, announced her retirement Wednesday afternoon. Rueppel, who also oversaw WFTC My29, will be replaced by Sheila Oliver who has been director of sales for the two stations since 2001.
Before coming to the Twin Cities, Rueppel was the general manager of the Fox-owned station in Milwaukee.
"Carol has been a successful leader and respecteed colleague whose 17-year career with Fox is filled with many accomplishments," said Jack Abernethy, the CEO of Fox Television Stations, which has 28 stations across the country. "We want to thank her for her many years of dedication and wish her much happiness in her retirement. I am disappointed that she is leaving us but respect her decision and she will be truly missed."
Oliver previously worked in Phoenix, Milwaukee, Richmond and Toledo.
Ginny Morris/ photo by Jerry Holt
Hubbard Radio just keeps getting bigger.
The St. Paul-based company announced Thursday that it has entered an asset purchase agreement to buy 16 radio stations from Omni Broadcasting Company. The stations are in Alexandria, Bemidji, Brainerd and Wadena, strengthening Hubbard's presence in Minnesota.
"Hubbard Broadcasting is deeply committed to local radio and to Minnesota," said Ginny Morris, CEO of Hubbard Radio. "This is a great opportunity to expand the company's presence into some wonderful local communities."
The acquistion involves 100 employees.
As part of the deal, Dan Seeman, vice president and market manager for Hubbard Radio Minneapolis-St. Paul will expand his role as regional manager for all of Hubbard's state-wide radio operations.
This is a relatively minor deal for a company that has gone all in on radio in recent years. In 2013, Hubbard bought 10 radio stations from Sandusky Radio for $85.5 million. Three years ago, the company closed a $505 million purchase of 17 stations, including WTOP-AM in Washington DC., one of the country's most profitable stations.
The company now owns 46 stations across the country, including KSTP (1500 AM), KS95-FM and 107.1 FM.
Garrison Keillor reports he is "feeling good" after surgery Thursday at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
"The IV went in and night fell and a couple hours later I woke in Recovery, no fuss, with a very pleasant nurse who gave me some ice to chew on and we chatted like old pals and at noon I got wheeled up to my room for a lovely lunch of vegetable broth, coffee, cranberry juice, and orange Jell-O," he posted on Facebook.
The Minnesota writer and "Prairie Home Companion" host has not disclosed the precise nature of the procedure, but earlier this month when he announced he was canceling Saturday's "PHC," he wrote: "If you've noticed my upstairs bathroom light go on at 10 p.m., 10:10, 10:25, 10:40, etc., you know all you need to know."
No word on when he'll leave the hospital. In his Facebook post he joked, "The Scot in me says, 'you will pay for this someday' and maybe so but meanwhile I am having a very good day, made all the better by a funny phone call from my daughter. Who reminded me that long ago in this hospital coming out of a tonsillectomy she stuck her tongue out at me. Despite anesthesia she remembered that I was the Judas who took her into the OR."
Keillor, 72, is scheduled to return to the Fitzgerald Theater stage Oct. 4 for a "Prairie Home" show featuring bluegrassers the Gibson Brothers and local singer/songwriter Ellis.
But don't be surprised if he makes an appearance this weekend at the History Theater in St. Paul, where his playwriting debut, "Radio Man," opens Saturday night.
(In the photo at right, Keillor clowned with actor Pearce Bunting, who plays his alter ego in "Radio Man," during a rehearsal earlier this month. The play has a preview staging Friday night.)
P.S. After this was posted, a friend shared a letter to the Anoka County Union that Keillor wrote two weeks ago after an outing to his old high school. It's quite sweet:
To the Editor:
Last Friday, I drove up to Anoka for the Anoka-Coon Rapids football game and sat in the bleachers about 10 feet below the pressbox where, as a 14-year-old kid, I sat and wrote up the games for the Anoka Herald.
Goodrich Field looks so much the same as it did back then and off to my right was a student cheering section, about 300 strong, distinguished by wearing odds and ends of white, white shirts, headbands, caps, one boy in a white off-the-shoulder toga, tossing white streamers, setting off white smoke bombs – a solid block of high spirited goofiness and tumult and swaying and dancing in the stands – in their whiteness, the opposite of goth, more like moths fluttering at a porch light, and so utterly different from the self-conscious solemnity of the Fifties teenager. I know alcohol and this was not alcohol: this was joy and humor and hormones. The band got to play the Fight Song a couple times and I joined the throng in the end zone and the game ended, Anoka up 14-6, and the kids in white bolted for the field and a huge mash-up of bodies at midfield, arms in the air, chanting the Fight Song, and then headed for the exits, a river of youth with a happy alumnus of 72 in their midst. If these folks represent what it’s like to be young now, I am all in favor of it.
A joyful September night in my old town and the downtown cafes crowded and my old stately junior high standing big and proud on Second Avenue, where my dad graduated in 1931. Go, Tornadoes.
Garrison Keillor, St. Paul
Garrison Keillor/ Star Tribune photo
Garrison Keillor announced Thursday that he'll be having a medical procedure on Sept. 25 that will force him to cancel a Sept. 27 edition of "A Prairie Home Companion."
Keillor, 72, wasn't specific about the operation, but did say this in a statement:
"I now know more about the prostate than I ever wanted to," he said. "If you've noticed my upstairs bathroom light go on at 10 p.m., 10:10, 10:25, 10:40, etc., you know all you need to know. It's no way to live, so I've found an excellent surgeon who will fix everything, and by October, I will be thinking more about truth and beauty and less about plumbing."
The Sept. 20 season kick-off and street dance will go on as scheduled, as will a tour that includes stops in Minneapolis, Duluth and Rochester.
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