Anyone who knew me say, 15 years ago, would probably be surprised to learn that I'm taking Garrison Keillor's announcement that he will be retiring from Prairie Home Companion in 2013 pretty hard.
When I first heard of the concept of his show, a middle-aged guy, doing a radio show from the mid-west to a presumably not-so-live audience of middle America, (people who undoubtedly clung to their guns and their religion) I just dismissed his followers as fans of corn pone humor.
But some time after that, I'm not exactly sure when and I'm not exactly sure why, I listened to the show and I liked it. And ever since then it's been appointment radio. Yes, on most Saturday afternoons you can find me in a place where "the women are strong, the men are good looking and all of the children are above average. " And no, I'm not talking about the Starbucks in Montecito.
I can still remember a number of years back when I was living in Noleta, working on my bike in the garage and listening to Keillor's annual joke show on a Saturday afternoon. I'd never knew "clean" jokes could be so funny.
But it wasn't only the jokes. The storytelling mesmerized me and the music, unplugged acoustic with accompanying vocal harmonies, was just sublime.
When they made Prairie Home Companion into a movie I went to see it. (And who would have ever thought it would be Garrison Keillor who would give Lindsay Lohan her last good role?) I went to see Keillor when he was at the Bowl a few years ago and I thought he was even better in person. This despite the fact that he has a face made for radio.
Keillor, in explaining why he will be retiring, says he will be 70 in two years and that's a "nice round number" and that it's better to quit before people start hinting around for you to leave.
Garrison, I beg you, don't sell yourself short. Someone sold that same bill of goods to Larry King and now we're stuck with Piers Morgan. And by the way, I don't think it's a coincidence that the TV ad campaign complaining that legal immigrants are taking too many good jobs from Californians started up not long after Piers pushed Larry out of his chair at CNN.
Nothing personal, but if there was ever a poster boy for a Brit swiping a job from a U.S. citizen, Piers Morgan is your guy.
But back to Garrison. Dude! I hope you reconsider. But thanks for the two-year advance notice as to what your plans are. My next 104 Saturday afternoons just got booked.
© 2011 by Craig Smith and www.craigsmithsblog.com