ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Garrison Keillor, creator and longtime host of the popular "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show, says he means it this time: He's retiring.
In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, Keillor said he plans to step down as host after next season, following four decades of entertaining listeners with his baritone voice and folksy comedy sketches about Lake Wobegon, his mythical Minnesota hometown "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."
The show is heard by 4 million listeners nationwide on nearly 700 public radio stations each week. Keillor also takes summer bus tours for live shows, and his 30-city "America the Beautiful" cross-country tour, billed as his farewell tour, starts next week.
"I have a lot of other things that I want to do. I mean, nobody retires anymore. Writers never retire. But this is my last season. This tour this summer is the farewell tour," the 72-year-old Keillor said, laughing and joking as he sat in his book-lined office in St. Paul wearing his signature red socks.
Keillor said he tapped musician Chris Thile of the bands Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek to succeed him full time as host in September 2016, following guest-hosting spots. He said Thile — a mandolin whiz — will help return "Prairie Home" to its roots as a music show.