Garrison Keillor, the former host of “A Prairie Home Companion” and a legend in public radio circles, said he had been fired by Minnesota Public Radio over allegations of improper behavior.
Keillor, who hosted the show for 42 seasons, was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) heard,” he told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
“It's some sort of poetic irony to be knocked off the air by a story, having told so many of them myself, but I'm 75 and don't have any interest in arguing about this. And I cannot in conscience bring danger to a great organization I've worked hard for since 1969,” Keillor told AP.
“A person could not hope for more than what I was given,” he added.
The author didn’t give further details of the allegation. Keillor retired last year from his longtime radio show but still produced “The Writer’s Almanac” for syndication.
Minnesota Public Radio told its listeners that firing Keillor was “the right thing to do.” The radio station relies heavily on donations and support from listeners. On Wednesday, MPR sent a note to supporters said the organization appreciates Keillor’s contributions to the network “and to all of public radio.”
Firing Keillor was necessary “to continue to earn your trust,” said MPR President Jon McTaggart.
MPR said it received a single allegation last month, from a person who worked with Keillor while he was producing A Prairie Home Companion. The station’s spokesperson said that allegation led to the creation of a special committee of the network’s board and the hiring of an outside law firm to conduct an investigation.
“Based on what we currently know, there are no similar allegations involving other staff. The attorney leading the independent investigation has been conducting interviews and reviewing documents, and the investigation is still ongoing,” Angie Andresen, MPR’s director of communications and Member & Audience Services, said in a statement.
A Prairie Home Companion ran for 42 seasons, from 1974 to 2016. It was an old-style variety show with a live audience, and Keillor delivered a regular segment called ‘The News from Lake Wobegon,’ a fictional account of life in a Minnesota town with the well-known closing phrase: “That’s the News from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”
Keillor's final episode was recorded live for an audience of 18,000 fans at the Hollywood Bowl in California on July 1, 2016. After the performance, President Barack Obama phoned Keillor to congratulate him. The show continued to air until October 2016, with Chris Thile as the new host.