He is an
author, humorist, radio personality and storyteller born Garrison Edward Keillor in Anoke, Minnesota wo a family
where his father was a postal worker and carpenter.
He took his further
education at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated with an English
degree. During his time at the
university he worked at the student’s radio station, Radio K, which
is where his career as a broadcaster began.
In 1965 he
married Mary Guntzel and they later divorced in
1976. 1969 was a big year for
him as not only was his son Jason born, but he began his career as a
professional radio personality for Minnesota Educational Radio which later
became Minnesota Public Media Radio.
He was the host of The Morning
Program on KSJR 90.1 FM which was dubbed “A Prairie Home
Entertainment”. He was
also working as an author at the same time and his fictional short story
“Local Family Keeps Son Happy” was published in The New Yorker in 1970.
1971 he put in a protest against the programming of music at the radio
station to the point that he played “Help Me, Rhonda” by The
Beach Boys continually during one show and then resigned The Morning Program. He returned to the show in
October when it was renamed A Prairie
Home Companion and over the next couple of years showcased many local
In 1973 he
wrote an article on the Grand Ole Opry for The
New Yorker which gave him the idea of having a live show on a Saturday
night and in August of that year it came to fruition when MER broadcast the
variety show A Prairie Home Companion
in July 1974 with live music, comedy sketches, parodies for which he often
wrote or re-wrote the lyrics for and a live audience. The show, which won a Peabody
Award I 1980, ran until 1987 and included parody melodramatic series and a
weekly fictional monologue by Garrison known as The News from Lake Wobegon.
In 1985 he got
married for a second time to Ulla Skaevard and they divorced in 1990.
In 1987 he
went to work on a new program called The
American Radio Company of the Air which had a similar format to his
previous show. He ran this show
for several years before returning to A
Prairie Home Companion in 1993 which has carried on ever since, even
though he takes no credit for it unless a guest mentions his name. The show also tours all over the United States.
1988 saw him
winning a Grammy Award for the recording of his novel Lake Wobegon Days.
In 1994 he was
inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame and in 1995 he married his
third wife, Jenny Lind Nilsson, who is a violinist who hails from his
In 1997 they had their daughter Maia
Grace. In 1999 he was awarded a
national Humanities Medal.
When the new
millennium came around he took the show to Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2000, where the show’s performance
was broadcast by BBC radio. For
the show’s 25th anniversary he returned to Scotland for a tour.
In 2001 he had heart
surgery following which he stopped working on an advice column he had
written for several years for Salon.com
where he was known as Mr. Blue.
In 2004, however, he did publish a collection of essays called Homegrown Democrat and returned to Salon.com in 2005 to write another regular column known as
“The Old Scout”.
His screenplay for A
Prairie Home Companion was filmed by Robert Altman in 2006, with him also
appearing and he also opened an independent bookstore. The following year he was presented
with the Steinbeck Award and in 2008 he broadcast at the Oregon Bach
Festival. The following year he
suffered a minor stroke which only kept him away from work for a few days.
In 2010 he stopped writing “The Old Scout” for a while so he
could concentrate on a novel and a screenplay.
Curiously in 2011 he
announced his retirement at an interview as of 2013, but in another
interview a few months later he said he had no plans to retire as he loved
what he did.
As an author he has
written over a dozen books as well as submitting countless articles for
newspapers and magazines. In
recent years he has also hosted The
Writer’s Almanac and worked as a voice actor on several films and