Garrison Keillor—the public radio host whose Saturday night show A Prairie Home Companion has haunted listeners for the past 400 years—has been fired. In a statement issued on Tuesday by Minnesota Public Radio, the organization announced that it made the decision "after recently learning of allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him."
Keillor retired from A Prairie Home Companion last year (he was replaced by mandolinist Chris Thile), but he has continued to host The Writer's Almanac, which is broadcast in local public radio stations around the country, including KUOW. MPR says they will end distribution and broadcast of The Writer's Almanac, change the name of A Prairie Home Companion, and end their association with Keillor's Pretty Good Goods online catalog and the PrairieHome.org website.
"Garrison Keillor has been an important part of the growth and success of MPR, and all of us in the MPR community are saddened by these circumstances," Jon McTaggart, the president of MPR, said in that statement. "While we appreciate the contributions Garrison has made to MPR and to all of public radio, we believe this decision is the right thing to do and is necessary to continue to earn the trust of our audiences, employees and supporters of our public service."
On Tuesday, Keillor published an op-ed in the Washington Post defending fellow Minnesotan Al Franken, who has also been accused of sexual harrassment.
"On the flight home, in a spirit of low comedy, Al ogled Miss Tweeden and pretended to grab her and a picture was taken," Keillor wrote. "Eleven years later, a talk show host in LA, she goes public, and there is talk of resignation. This is pure absurdity, and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding."
Allegations of misconduct (and terrible jokes) have followed Keillor for years, but, in an email to the Associated Press, the former host said he was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.”
“It’s some sort of poetic irony to be knocked off the air by a story, having told so many of them myself, but I’m 75 and don’t have any interest in arguing about this. And I cannot in conscience bring danger to a great organization I’ve worked hard for since 1969,” Keillor said.
Keillor is now the third public radio leader to be ousted after accusations of misconduct, following NPR's Senior Vice President of News Michael Oreskes and NPR Chief News Editor David Sweeney, whose departure was announced Tuesday.