“Wobegon Boy”

Another flash to the past. Meeting Garrison Keillor in 2006. He was a guest on my show, after meeting him I wrote this blog for 207.

There is one great perk to working on 207: the people we meet. In 2006, Rob Caldwell, Paul Doughty, our production manager and I took a trip to Gilford, New Hampshire to interview Garrsion Keillor.

I  generally don’t read much. I am a TV guy, but when I was a freshman in college my girlfriend introduced me to NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

I was really only doing it to make a good impression, but somewhere during that show of very funny skits and pretty good music, I heard Garrison Keillor. He introduced me to a place called Lake Wobegon, “Where all the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are above average.” From the moment I heard this profound voice take the air I knew I was hooked.

From then on, I listened every week, having no idea they were coming up on their 30th anniversary. Friends get irritated with me for making them wait until 8 PM, when the show ends, before spending the rest of my Saturday evening with them. Over the years this routine has become a staple in my relationship with my girlfriend. No matter what our mood, good or bad, we knew that we would put it all aside for Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

As I dove deeper and deeper in the fictional world I discovered what an amazing writer Mr. Keillor was. I began buying all his books, both on audio and hardcover. I soon discovered his Morning Writer’s Almanacs, heard every morning on NPR.

During our interview, Garrison talked about having just written the movie “A Prairie Home Companion.” It was directed by Robert Altman and features an all star cast including Lily Tomlin, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and of course Garrison Keillor.

When we spoke with Garrison in the summer of 2006, he told us a little bit about the movie. The story is about a long-running Minnesota radio show’s last night on the air. Similar yes, to the original, but hopefully we will never have a last night for the original PHC again. As some die-hard fans may be aware, Garrison started a small tradition of having Fairwell Shows back in the 80’s, when he actually did leave the show for a brief period to focus on his writing.

But now back to Gilford. We were all excited about the idea of meeting Garrison Keillor. I had worked on getting this interview for two years. He came out to greet us and could not have been a nicer man. After the interview he took the time to autograph a few books and pose for pictures with us. It’s not often I get to meet a great American author, but it was more than just an honor to meet him, it was like meeting a relative who you grew up knowing all about, but never had the chance to be in their company.

Mr. Keillor drew me away from the television and back to books.  He introduced me to the pleasures of sitting around with a loved one listening to a great show on the radio. That day in New Hampshire is one I will treasure for years to come.

If you’re looking for a  great read, check out my favorite work of Garrison Keillor’s “Wobegon Boy”.