A Prairie Home Companion – From Radio to Movie Screen

Some radio and TV shows are so engaging that they become a requirement for their audience’s day-to-day lives. Not only does the audience learn new things from them, but gets a chance to forget about their problems as well. A Prairie Home Companion was one such amusing and gratifying radio show that gathered several audiences from all over the USA. The show aired every Saturday from Minnesota Public Radio Station from 1974 until 2016.

Garrison Keillor, a legendary American author, storyteller, comedian, and voice actor, hosted the show. Musical guests often became the limelight of the show and came to showcase their talents. Radio comic skits and Keillor’s entertaining storytelling segment, “News from Lake Wobegon,” were also broadcast on the show. “News from Lake Wobegon” stood out of all the show segments, and fans miss it up to this date.

Keillor later wrote a film on the show, which has served as a milestone in his career journey. The film was directed by Robert Altman and had the same name as it had on the radio. It was released in June 2006 and was a box office success.

About Garrison Keillor 

Keillor first opened his eyes in Anoka, Minnesota. He was born to Grace Ruth. After graduating from Anoka High School in 1960, he went to the University of Minnesota for a bachelor’s in English in 1966. He became a prolific author, story narrator, and radio personality.

Keillor rose to fame mainly because of his popular radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. He created an imaginary town of Minnesota, “Lake Wobegon,” in his radio show and used it frequently as the setting of his writings. This creativity gathered him a large group of audience, which truly admired his work.

He also launched a series of daily five-minute podcasts under the name of, The Writers Almanac. Unfortunately, in 2017, Keillor was alleged to have misconducted a freelance writer for his radio show. As a result, he ended up losing all contracts with Minnesota Public Radio. This unlucky moment served as the worst recession in his career.

However, he continued to post new episodes of “The Writers Almanac” on his website personally. Later, in 2018, Keillor and MPR had a settlement that permitted the radio show’s archives to be made publicly available.

Features of Keillor’s Most Famous Radio Show, APHC

APHC achieved much more fame and success than Keillor could have ever imagined. The first show broadcasted from Minnesota Public Radio in Janet Wallace Auditorium only collected a small audience. None of the team members could have thought that one day this show will be broadcasted on 690 radio stations nationwide and steal the hearts of around 4 million listeners every week. A hallmark of the show’s success was thatwhen Keillor hosted the last Prairie Home Companion episode in 2016, Barack Obama himself called in.

The show followed a proper format that was set out by Keillor and his team. Hello, Love by Hank Snow was played as the opening song of the show until 1987. Later on, it was replaced by Tishomingo Blues by Spencer Williams. Many different musical guests, including Steep Canyon Rangers and Punch Brothers, were called to enlighten the Saturday shows with their presence.

From gospel and blues to classical and opera, a variety of music was played on the show. Keillor and some team members hosted another segment called “The Hopeful Gospel Quartet.” Comedy skits, featuring recurring characters like Guy Noir and Private eye, often made the audience burst into laughter. The most outstanding segment of the entire show was “News from Lake Wobegon,” in which the host narrated stories from a fake town that he had created himself. It received a loud round of applause from the audience.

Advertisements for Fictional sponsors like powder milk biscuits and men’s shoes, along with an annual joke show, served as some other popular features of the show. Some prominent cast members were Tim Russell, Sue Scott, Bob and Ray, Eric Rhodes, Walter Bobbie, and Chris Thile.

From Radio to Movie Screen

a film poster for A Prairie Home Companion featuring the photographs of all the cast members around a microphone

Keillor wrote a movie script for his long-time radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, which was launched on May 25, 2006. The film was directed by Robert Altman, who later got nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for best director. The movie served as a visual representation of the events taking place backstage of the radio show.

Some of the cast members were Garrison Keillor, TomL.Jones, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Kline, Meryl Steep, Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, and John C.Reiley.In the film, we get to see that the APHC team is rehearsing for its final show. During their free time, the cast members interact with each other and retrospect the lovely time they had spent together.

The Dangerous woman reappears as Angel Asphodel. She provides solace to the cast of APHC for the shows ending and death of a cast member, Chuck Akers. In the meantime, Axeman announces that the show should no longer be on the air as it follows an old-fashioned style. Although Asphodel guides him from the theatre to an untimely death, the show is still annulled.

The journey of Keillor’s popular show from radio to the movie screen was a successful one. It generated an appreciable profit in the box office. Meryl Steep won the award of the best actress by the National Society of Film Critics.

Movie’s Positive Reviews

The movie received mostly positive reviews. Many critics gave their opinion on this last masterpiece by Robert Altman. David Edelstein from New York magazine shared how the film indicated death. However, it had adopted a funny-sad tone and was full of laughable jokes. He also dropped positive feedback about the talented ensemble of performers in the movie.

Similarly, Geoff Andrew from Timeout believed that the movie was gorgeous and fun-filled. Such positive responses were a source of encouragement for all the cast members. Many common people also shared that they found this movie extremely intriguing.

Garrison Keillor Says Goodbye

On July 21, 2015, Keillor formally announced that he would be completely parting his way from his popular radio show, and Chris Thile would succeed him as the next host. This announcement by Keillor left fans in despair. The final episode of APHC was recorded in Hollywood Bowlon July 1, 2016.

The live show was attended by a crowd numbering over 18000.On being questioned how Keillor felt at that moment, he replied by saying that he feels as if something is ending, and another thing is starting. Thereby, after 42 years of distributing a mix of American Music, the show came to an end.Barack Obama also called in the show, which was shown on television on July 2, 2016. The show continued with Chris Thile for some time.

The show’s name later changed to Live from Here, butLive from Here could never reach the popularity of APHC. The archives of APHC are still available online and are frequently watched by some of the craziest fans of Garrison Keillor.


APHC has been one of the most popular radio shows of its time. It enabled the audience to relish their Saturday long drives to the fullest. The show proved itself as a masterpiece by attaining limitless success on both radio and television.

Garrison Keillor’s creativity and lucid style was perhaps the core reason behind the show’s success because when Chris Thile replaced garrison in 2016, the number of fans tuning in to the show dwindled. Today, the archived episodes of the show are accessible on the internet.