The experiment is over.

“Prairie Home Companion” has been renewed for a 44th season, and will return in the fall with 26 episodes, host Chris Thile announced as Saturday’s show opened.

This season was Thile’s first season as host of the show, which long had been associated with Garrison Keillor.

“I know it seemed inevitable, but it wasn’t,” Thile said of the show’s renewal, to warm applause from the audience at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.

Thile opened the show with a snippet of the Beatles song “Hello, Goodbye.”

In a news release, Dave Kansas, executive vice president of American Public Media, which distributes the show, said, “Chris has brilliantly built on Garrison’s legacy. While it’s not a surprise that Chris’ talent and energy are resonating with our audiences, we’ve been delighted with the incredible response from listeners.”

The fall season will kick off from St. Paul on Oct. 7.

Also on Saturday, which was supposed to be the show’s season finale, APM announced two new live broadcasts from the Fitzgerald for 2017 on May 13 and May 20, making for 15 on the season.

The show is heard on 580 public radio stations across the country by about 2.5 million listeners each week, according to APM.