‘A Prairie Home Companion’s’ Keillor speaks at WKU

Mitchell Grogg

Radio host Garrison Keillor continued the Cultural Enhancement Series at WKU with a performance entitled “A Brand-New Retrospective.”

The title of Tuesday’s event referred to Keillor turning 70 years old this past summer, Keillor said at the beginning of the performance.

“I’ve been dreading it since I was in my 20s, and then it happens and it carries all sorts of benefits with it,” Keillor said. “It’s a very sweet, very sweet age.”

Keillor serves as host of the public radio program “A Prairie Home Companion.”

The show also featured piano accompaniment by Rich Dworsky and Rob Fisher, as well as Keillor singing duets with singer-actress Christine DiGiallonardo.

“I just like to sing duets with…a younger woman and a talented woman,” Keillor after the show.

Many in the audience also enjoyed the duets, along with the other solo vocal performances and monologues.

Nashville sophomore Anna Lee McFadden particularly enjoyed the event.

“I’ve been a longtime fan of Garrison Keillor,” McFadden said. “(I) listened to ‘Prairie Home Companion’ for ever and ever, as long as I can remember.”

McFadden also said she loves the music and stories Keillor provides.

“Garrison Keillor is an excellent storyteller and he’s enchanting,” she said.

The performance was also an opportunity for those unfamiliar with Keillor’s work to get a taste of it. One of those people was Franklin senior Dylan Greer.

“I came out here from recommendations of my girlfriend and her parents,” he said. “It was all entertaining.”

David Lee, Dean of WKU’s Potter College of Arts and Letters, felt this was one of the more successful Cultural Enhancement series events.

“There’s been a lot of, kind of buzz around it over the last few weeks,” he said.

Lee added that while he expected the show to sell out, he did not expect it to do so in three weeks, as it did.

This performance had a much larger number of community members than students in attendance. It is something Lee sees as an indication of the advantage a university can bring to a community.

“We love to have the community here,” he said. “Part of the advantage of having a university in your midst is for events like this to take place and folks in the community to have the opportunity to come be a part of that.”

Keillor also mentioned passing wisdom onto the next generation in the show as well.

“You want to leave the next generation with an example of courage,” he said. “They shouldn’t be cowed into thinking that there are only narrow opportunities for them.

“My role is to convince other people that it is possible; that it’s possible to start your own radio show, even if you aren’t a singer or an actor.”