1. Created the signature program for Minnesota Public Radio, which grew into one of the nation’s most powerful broadcast entities with a portfolio that includes “Marketplace” and 89.3 the Current.
2. Brought the folk scene to a worldwide audience, boosting the careers of dozens of artists including Greg Brown, Peter Ostroushko and Gillian Welch.
3. Shaped the image of Minnesota — for better or worse. Inspired the psychology term “Lake Wobegon Effect” for the tendency to overestimate one’s abilities. Became fodder for TV shows such as “30 Rock” and “Family Guy,” the comic “Doonesbury” and the novel “American Psycho.”
4. Helped the Twin Cities build a literary reputation through his daily “Writer’s Almanac” and his Common Good bookstore.
5. Lent gravitas to everything from Honda ads to Ken Burns’ “Baseball” with his amiable yet authoritative voice.
6. Served as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s greatest cheerleader, leading the charge to rename St. Paul’s oldest working theater in his honor and spearheading a grand centennial birthday party in 1996.
7. Played host to Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan and Woody Harrelson for his film adaptation of “A Prairie Home Companion,” the most star-studded movie ever shot in Minnesota.