The former ‘Prairie Home’ show moves to New York

This really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to public radio watchers, but the descendant of the show that put St. Paul on the national map is heading for the bright lights permanently.

“Live from Here,” once known as “A Prairie Home Companion,” will call New York City home full-time, host Chris Thile announced Monday.

About 25 shows will be held in New York.

“This season has been a dream for me and I’m chomping at the bit to build on it,” Thile said. “Next season, our public radio listeners and live-stream viewers will get the best and broadest selection of music and musicians we can possibly present, and they can also expect an expanded range of spoken word content, including poetry, literature, comedy and storytelling.”

The program has mostly been a touring show in recent seasons but still performed in the Twin Cities for about a half-dozen programs.

The writing was on the wall for St. Paul, though, once Thile became host for the retiring Garrison Keillor three years ago, and, later, once Keillor was embroiled in a sexual harassment controversy with his onetime employer, Minnesota Public Radio. Last summer ago, the show’s long-time staff was fired.

And last year, MPR agreed to sell the Fitzgerald Theater to the owners of First Avenue.

  • Guest

    In other words, the show that defined Minnesota to most of the country will now be just another show.

      • Rob

        I don’t remember that episode of The Red Green Show.

        • RBHolb

          It’s the lost episode of Mary Tyler Moore, where Lou Grant snaps and finally does something about Ted Baxter.

          • Remember, we’re all in this together.

            Keep your stick on the ice, and your buddy in the wood chipper.

    • chaos750

      That happened quite a while ago. It has been a slow transition into a completely new show, but it’s a transition that is already done. Garrison was clearly the source of its previous Minnesotan soul, and while some of that remained after Chris took over, it wasn’t much. I remember a few sketches similar to the ones where Garrison would get a call from his overbearing Minnesotan mother soon after Chris took over (I think they were playing Chris’s in-laws), but those didn’t last. Then the show’s name change also removed all the remaining references like the Powdermilk Biscuit ad, and then finally Tim Russel left, who was the last actor on that I associated with Prairie Home and not Live From Here. I think it was always destined to become what it has, though it probably happened faster due to the sudden split. It would be unfair to ask Chris to keep the show in the past, striving to relive an era he wasn’t even alive for, especially when he’s so creative and driven to do his own things.

      The only vestige of Prairie Home left now is that they still do comedy sketches at all in what has otherwise become a music show, but the tone and style is very different — it’s more like improv or maybe an SNL sketch than the radio plays they used to put on. (I do miss the sound effects a lot, that’s one thing that should come back.) If Live From Here were starting from scratch I don’t think those would be there, and I wonder if the stand up guest section (originally a replacement for News from Lake Wobegon) would make the cut too. Other than that, I don’t think a person frozen in 2014 and thawed today would recognize a connection between them.

    • Jerry

      Let’s be honest, it gave people a pretty false impression of what Minnesota is like in the 21st century.

      • it wasn’t a documentary. It was a work of fiction.

        • Jerry

          And yet, to a lot of people it defined Minnesota.

  • Jeff

    He doesn’t like us? sniff, sniff

  • J Allen

    So the glory has departed from Lake Wobegon now that the Prairie Home has been captured by the uncouth New Yawkers. Ichabod, yah sure you betcha.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    How is this different from when Garrison took the show to Brooklyn after his “first retirement”? In reality it’s just that this time it will probably fit better than it did back then because of the subtle and not so subtle changes to the format. (Disclaimer: I’m not a regular listener of either the current show or its predecessor. But I have listened on occasion.)

  • Jeffrey

    I think the Prairie Home Companion name should have been retired when Garrison stepped down from the show. Despite his saying that the show could go on without him, he was a big part of it.

    I like Live From Here. For the record I liked Prairie Home Companion too. The two shows are very different.

  • Rob

    Well, back to being Flyoverland…

  • Gary F

    I guess the name of the show can still be called “Live from here”. Here can be anywhere.

    Still a good show. He still gets a very eclectic mix of Americana musicians.

    • Guest

      I am pretty sure that was understood (being place flexible) when the name was chosen.

    • Jim in RF

      It really is a good show, Gary. If I had never heard of Garrison and had never heard the show (I remember when he did the Morning Show with Jim Ed; and saw two of his last-ever programs), you’d still say it was just what you’d want on that frequency at that time of the week. It being the successor was a springboard that’s now turning to an anchor.

  • Frank

    Public radio heresy here:

    I’d rather eat hot death than listen to Live Form Here, or PHC before that.


    • John Maddening

      I liked nearly every part of APHC that didn’t feature Keillor. As such, I really enjoyed LFH.

      They really blundered when they canceled John Moe’s “Wits”. It was a true evolution of the variety show format, and the audience skewed much younger (which public radio needs if they want to survive).

  • T.

    Only three longtime staffers were released at the beginning of last season. 8 others have been there 8 years or more who still work for the show.

  • ec99

    Was there ever a mass funeral for all the residents of Lake Woebegon?

  • Maybe MPR won’t fill obligated to keep the show on the radio anymore. There are so many better shows that could run in its place.

    • it’s not targeted toward Minnesotans; it’s a national show and apparently doing well.

      • There’s no reason it needs to stay on MPR. Let it leave and MPR should move on and select something different to run. There are so many good shows that could take its place.

        • Angry Jonny

          Other than…people like it and it’s doing well?

          • Some people like it. I’m not one of them. With the current lineup I’ve almost stopped listening to MPR. I guess public radio has moved away from my interests and Live From Here is another example of that.

          • Everybody gets the freedom to choose.

            It’s not unusual that people stop listening. It’s like I once tolds Mary Lucia. There are only two days when everybody loves a radio station: the day it goes on the air, and the day it changes its format.

          • I used to love MPR and NPR. When Talk of the Nation was eliminated and The Takeaway took its spot, I started listen less. And the increasingly rightward drift of political coverage has turned me off as well.

            I still like Keri Miller’s show, The World and As It Happens.

            If it wasn’t for podcasts, i’d probably still listen to those shows.

          • Yeah, the budget cutting at NPR was severe and indicative of the state of public broadcasting. Less money for radio, more resources for podcasting and digital.

            Those who depend on an ill-informed and ignorant society couldn’t be happier.

          • There are good news podcasts. I like the Daily 202’s Big Idea. I also listen to On the Media on Podcast now, since I always missed it on the radio (if MPR still plays it).

          • 3pm Sunday