Aggressively folksy radio personality Garrison Keillor is telling AARP magazine he plans to retire as host of A Prairie Home Companion in the spring of 2013. "I sure don't want to make a fool of myself," he explained to interviewer Evelyn Renold, "and be singing romantic duets with 25-year-old women when I'm 75."
Fans of Keillor's unique blend of Midwestern wisdom, unconventional musical acts, and live radio theater might want to take the news with a grain of salt. This isn't the first time Keillor has flirted with hanging up his trademark red sneakers.
- In 1987, he ended the first incarnation of the show and moved to Denmark to be with his second wife, Ulla. The exile was a brief one. Keillor returned to the U.S. after two years, and the radio show started back up in 1993.
- The plot of Robert Altman's 2006 film A Prairie Home Companion centers on Keillor and a fictionalized version of the cast's final show. Granted, the decision to end the program comes from Tommy Lee Jones, not Keillor, in the movie. But the film's closing scene, embedded below, suggest Keillor will keep returning to his radio company, whether he wants to or not:
- After suffering a stroke in 2009, Keillor made comments to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune with sentiments nearly identical to what he told AARP this week. "[I'm] not counting on doing it more than a couple more years," he said at the time. "I would love to see it continue, and I think I would be a great producer. I think I'd be a better producer than a host. So I would love to produce a successor show." Two years later, Keillor still insists the end is near--but not for a few more years.