Garrison Keillor bids one final farewell to Lake Wobegon

Publish date:

"I was lucky to have the employment go on for 42 years, I never got fired, because I am the boss. And I had no regrets because of memory loss. And suddenly the day becomes the past. Four decades, and it went by so fast."

Garrison Keillor said goodbye to Lake Wobegon after 42 years on Saturday night, when his last ever broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion" hit the airwaves.

His final show was, unusually, recorded the night before at the Hollywood Bowl in front of 18,000 people, and featured a phone call from President Barack Obama.

Obama, according to the New York Times, told Keillor that "one of the reasons I miss driving is that you kept me company," adding that the show "made me feel better and more human."

Keillor later paid tribute to the president, USA Today reports, responding to singer Heather Masse's comment that "we're going to miss you" by saying: "I'm going to miss President Obama, that's what I'll miss."

'Thank you, everybody, goodnight'

He told "Prairie Home's" usual stage performers that leaving "feels like something ends and something else is about to happen."

The taping ended with performers singing "Next Time I'm In Town," with Keillor singing the line: "There's one thing I promise you, that's another rendezvous, next time I'm in town," before signing off with: "Thank you, everybody, goodnight."

The 73-year-old Minnesotan, who has had some health problems in recent months, created the show in 1974, which was set in the fictional town of "Lake Wobegon."

Keillor has previously thanked Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), which gave the show its start in front of a handful of people at Macalester College in St. Paul, for being "too poor to afford good advice."

MPR's founder Bill Kling told NPR he was transfixed by the final show.

"When you see 18,000 people sitting and singing quietly with Garrison, you understand who he is and what he lives for, and why they love him," he said. "And it's one of the most amazing experiences you will ever have in your life."

Keillor is leaving to write a memoir about his parents, a Washington Post column, and a Lake Wobegon film script.

Taking over the "Prairie Home" reins this October will be Chris Thile, the "Nickel Creek" and "Punch Brothers" musician, who paid this tribute on Saturday.

Next Up