Monday, October 24, 2016

RADIO - "A Prairie Home Companion"

"‘Prairie Home' gets a new companion" PBS NewsHour 10/21/2016


SUMMARY:  "A Prairie Home Companion" has always been synonymous with one man:  Garrison Keillor.  Since his departure, the live variety radio program transitioned to a new host.  But 35-year-old Chris Thile isn't actually new -- he's been performing on the show since he was 15 and listening since early childhood.  Jeffrey Brown reports on how the iconic program is changing -- and how it's remaining the same.

CHRIS THILE, A Prairie Home Companion:  You know, I suspect we're going to have some fun this evening.


JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  The new “A Prairie Home Companion,” still at the beautiful Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, still a two-hour variety show presented live on public radio, but now led by 35-year-old Chris Thile.

CHRIS THILE:  I'm obsessed with the good things that people make to give to one another.  This show is a place, has been one of America's most consistent sources of good things for 40 years.  And I feel like it's imperative that it continue.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Since its founding in 1974, of course, “A Prairie Home Companion” has been synonymous with one man, Garrison Keillor.  He hosted it, wrote it, embodied it with a sense of the people and place he knew in his bones.

GARRISON KEILLOR, A Prairie Home Companion:  That's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Two years ago on this very stage, Keillor told me of the magic of radio and storytelling.

GARRISON KEILLOR:  I think there's — there's a lot of power in listening to one person talking to you.  And — and this should never be underestimated.

JEFFREY BROWN:  It was Keillor who hand-picked his successor, one who'd been performing on the show since age 15 and had listened to it even earlier.

CHRIS THILE:  Some of my earliest memories are of hearing Garrison Keillor's voice in our living room, at a point when I…


CHRIS THILE:  Yes, when I couldn't even tell the difference between his voice and my father's voice.  It's like an authoritative — this authoritative, paternal sound coming from the radio.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Chris Thile, who grew up in Southern California, was a child prodigy on the mandolin.  With groups like Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers, he grew into a leader of a new generation of bluegrass-based, genre-bending musicians.

He can seemingly do anything with his instrument.  I first spoke to Thile three years ago when he recorded an album of 'Bach Partitas.'

CHRIS THILE:  The fugal pieces where they're all about precision, and these second voices come in and then there's a third voice.

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