|Garrison Keillor (Associated Press photo)|
"The overall form of the show, an olio of songs, stories, skits and ads for invented products—invented because public radio carried no commercials—was inspired by Keillor’s reporting, for a 1974 New Yorker piece, on the last broadcast of 'The Grand Ole Opry' from Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, built in 1892, before its move to plush new digs at Opryland," Robert Lloyd reports for the Los Angeles Times. Keillor wrote, "You listen to the Opry and pretty soon you have a place in mind … and eventually you have got to go and be there too. Closing my eyes, I could see the stage just as clearly as when I was a kid lying in front of our giant Zenith console."
"Populated with characters not from Keillor's own small-town youth but from the world of his parents, their siblings and their friends, Lake Wobegon—the fictional subject of Keillor’s weekly monologue—is on the face of it old-fashioned: a needlepoint sampler created in the year of 'Chinatown,' 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,' Kraftwerk's 'Autobahn,' and the Ramones' first public appearance," Lloyd writes.
The show "has been a sort of ark between the old world and the new, the analog and the digital," Lloyd writes. "It kept audio comedy alive into an age of video – I bow down here to the flexible brilliance of company members Sue Scott and Tom Russell and to the sound-effects artistry of Fred Newman and Tom Keith, given a pride of place unmatched elsewhere."
It's probably not the last fans will hear of the 73-year-old Keillor. In 2013 he published a book of poetry, O, What a Luxury, and in 2012 a work of fiction, Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny. He has also been writing about the political landscape, most recently for The Washington Post.