'A Prairie Home Companion' becomes 'Town Hall,' Chris Thile says live on show
This story has been updated to correct information about the show's new title. No new name has been selected yet.
NEW YORK — The host of “A Prairie Home Companion” who took over the show from its creator, Garrison Keillor, took to the stage Saturday evening and addressed the elephant in the room — Keillor’s quick fall from grace this week.
As mandolinist Chris Thile, who took over the show in October 2016, opened the show at New York’s Town Hall theater, he addressed the controversy that led to MPR ending all contracts with Keillor on Wednesday.
“Before we begin the show today I want to take a moment to address something which you’ve probably heard about by now, which is MPR is severing ties with Garrison Keillor over allegations of inappropriate behavior.
“This is, of course, heartbreaking news,” he went on, the theater hushed. “As I’ve said many times on the air, ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ has always been a source of refuge and inspiration for me personally. I really did tune in every Saturday as a kid, and like millions of us, I would not be the person I am today without ‘Prairie Home.’
“Today we are in the middle of a national movement which I believe represents progress. We’re recognizing the harmful power imbalance that women have had to endure for so long in our culture. My sincere hope is that with awareness will come improvement.
“As for this show, I want it to be a place for us to gather around, hear great music, laugh together, reflect and gain respite from our weekly troubles. “People are capable of such beauty. I aim to bring some of it to you on the radio every Saturday. And I’m as thrilled as ever to say, coming to you live from New York City, welcome to Town Hall,” Thile said to loud applause.
The show was scheduled to be the first of three broadcasts from the historic theater in midtown Manhattan.
Keillor announced Wednesday morning that he had been fired from MPR, and the network followed soon after with a statement that it was ending its contracts with Keillor and his private media companies after learning of allegations of inappropriate behavior from someone who worked with him on “A Prairie Home Companion.”
MPR said it would end rebroadcasts of “A Prairie Home Companion” episodes Keillor hosted, rename the show now hosted by Thile and stop distribution and broadcasts of Keillor’s show “The Writer’s Almanac.”