Garrison Keillor, the creator of and former host of long-running NPR variety series A Prairie Home Companion as well as contributor to other NPR programs, has been fired from Minnesota Public Radio following accusations of “inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.” MPR’s statement:
Last month, MPR was notified of the allegations which relate to Mr. Keillor’s conduct while he was responsible for the production of A Prairie Home Companion (APHC). MPR President Jon McTaggart immediately informed the MPR Board Chair, and a special Board committee was appointed to provide oversight and ongoing counsel. In addition, MPR retained an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation of the allegations. Based on what we currently know, there are no similar allegations involving other staff. The attorney leading the independent investigation has been conducting interviews and reviewing documents, and the investigation is still ongoing. We encourage anyone with additional information to call our confidential hotline 1-877-767-7781.
MPR takes these allegations seriously and we are committed to maintaining a safe, respectful and supportive work environment for all employees and everyone associated with MPR. We want a workplace where anyone who experiences unwanted behavior feels comfortable in reporting concerns to MPR. Discrimination, harassment, retaliation or other inappropriate behaviors will not be tolerated.
Keillor responded in an email to the Star Tribune:
Keillor said, “I put my hand on a woman’s bare back. I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”
Keillor even managed a joke of sorts: “Getting fired is a real distinction in broadcasting and I’ve waited fifty years for the honor. All of my heroes got fired. I only wish it could’ve been for something more heroic.”
Minnesota Public Radio is ending distribution and broadcast of The Writer’s Almanac and rebroadcasts of The Best of A Prairie Home Companion hosted by Garrison Keillor, and is going to change the name of the show which is currently hosted by Chris Thile.
UPDATE: Chris Thile made a statement on Facebook:
I’m in shock. I know nothing beyond what’s contained in the statement below, but I trust that the proper steps are being taken.
UPDATE 2: In a now deleted facebook message, screencapped by Star Tribune, Keillor said:
It’s astonishing that 50 years of hard work can be trashed in a morning by an accusation. I always believed in hard work and now it feels sort of meaningless. Only a friend can hurt you this badly. I think I have to leave the country in order to walk around in public and not feel accusing glances.
Garrison Keillor is currently touring with Robin & Linda Williams had live appearances scheduled on the East Coast this week (including Tarrytown Music Hall on 12/1) — no word on whether the tour will still go on.
UPDATE: Tarrytown Music Hall posted a message about Friday’s show:
In the light of the recent allegations against Mr Keillor, we will be offering any ticket holders who would prefer not to attend the show a full refund, or to exchange tickets for another event.
Meanwhile, A Prairie Home Companion is set to tape at NYC’s Town Hall this Saturday (12/2) with Spoon, and 12/9 with Jeff Tweedy, The Staves & yMusic, Punch Brothers, and more. Stay tuned.