Minnesota Public Radio has ended distribution and broadcast of The Writer’s Almanac effective immediately.
Today is a sad day for poetry lovers.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Garrison Keillor, whose stories of small-town characters entertained legions of public radio listeners for 40 years on “A Prairie Home Companion,” became another celebrity felled by allegations of workplace misconduct on Wednesday when Minnesota Public Radio terminated his contracts.
The homegrown humorist told The Associated Press he was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.” Keillor didn’t detail the allegation to AP, but he later told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he had put his hand on a woman’s bare back when trying to console her.
“I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness, and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized,” Keillor told the newspaper in an email. “I sent her an email of apology later, and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it.
“We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”
MPR said only that it received a single allegation of “inappropriate behavior” against Keillor last month about an alleged incident during his time hosting “A Prairie Home Companion.” Keillor retired as host of the radio variety show last year, but continued to work for MPR on various projects.
MPR said it had received no other complaints but had retained an outside law firm that was continuing to investigate.
On Wednesday, Keillor didn’t say when the incident with the woman occurred. In his statement to AP, Keillor said it was “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.”
MPR said it would rename the show now hosted by Thile (“A Prairie Home Companion”) and end distribution of “The Writer’s Almanac,” Keillor’s daily reading of a poem and telling of literary events. MPR also plans to end rebroadcasts of “The Best of A Prairie Home Companion” hosted by Keillor.
From AP story: “Garrison Keillor fired for ‘inappropriate behavior'” written by: JEFF BAENEN, ASSOCIATED PRESS, November 29, 2017. Full article published at SFChronicle.com
When I visited TheWritersAlmanac.org, the site was no longer there and redirected to a statement by MPR which included:
MPR will end its business relationships with Mr. Keillor’s media companies effective immediately. By terminating the contracts, MPR and American Public Media (APM) will:
* end distribution and broadcast of The Writer’s Almanac and rebroadcasts of The Best of A Prairie Home Companion hosted by Garrison Keillor;
* change the name of APM’s weekly music and variety program hosted by Chris Thile; and,
* separate from the Pretty Good Goods online catalog and the PrairieHome.org website.
All personal opinions aside, this is a heart-breaking day for me and for all poetry lovers.
The last poem published at The Writer’s Almanac, which I have thanks to my email subscription, was “Bear In Mind” by John Martin:
“Bear In Mind”
By John Martin
A bear is chasing me through a meadow
and I’m running as fast as I can but
he’s gaining on me—it seems
he’s always gaining on me.
I’m running and running but also
thinking I should just
turn around and say,
“Stop it! Stop chasing me. We both
know you aren’t going to catch me.
All you can ever do is chase me. So,
think about it—why bother?”
The bear does stop,
and he sits on his haunches and thinks,
or seems to think. And then
the bear says to me,
“I have to chase you, you know
that. Or you should. And, sure,
we both know I’ll never catch you.
So, why not give us both a break and
just stop thinking about me?”
But, with that said, he gets back on four feet,
sticks his long pink tongue out, licks down
both sides of his snout. Then he sighs, looks
behind himself, then at me and says, “Okay,
ready when you are.”
“Bear In Mind” by John Martin from Hold This. © Concrete Wolf Press, 2017.