Keillor definitely retiring after one more season, he says again

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Garrison Keillor, the 72-yer-old host of the popular public radio show "A Prairie Home Companion," has reiterated his intention to retire from the program in the fall of 2016.

Keillor told the Associated Press Monday he is definitely hanging it up after one more season, which will see him sharing the hosting duties with musician Chris Thile - who will eventually take over the program full time.

In case this all sounds familiar, Keillor broke this news in an interview with the Berkshire Eagle in late June. But Keillor has talked off and on in previous years about retiring from the program, only to back off from those plans.

He told the Associated Press that this time, he's sure.

New host, a new approach?

Thile, 34, is a mandolin player and singer with Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers. He was a guest host of Prairie Home for two shows in February.

Thile will host two more shows in the upcoming 2015-2016 season, and will co-host several more with Keillor.

“Chris is my man,” Keillor told the Eagle last month, “and I’m eager to stay home and read books. But of course, I’ll do whatever needs to be done to assure an easy transition.”

Thile told Mandolin Cafe he has “tremendous respect” for A Prairie Home Companion, which Keillor has hosted for 41 years. The program airs on some 600 public radio stations and has a weekly audience of about four million listeners.

Thile added that some parts of the show may change over time, but it will continue its role in nurturing up-and-coming musicians.

Keillor first began speaking publicly about retiring a few years ago. In 2011 he told the AARP Bulletin he was looking for a new host for A Prairie Home Companion because he planned to retire from the show in the spring of 2013.

But he later walked back from those plans, and told the Associated Press late last year he was making plans for the upcoming season.

Keillor's last show as host will be in July 2016, he told the Associated Press, although he will continue as the program's executive producer.

There’s been no word about the hosting plans on the Prairie Home website or social media as yet.

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