Keillor in mediation with Minnesota Public Radio over firing
By Jeff Baenen
MINNEAPOLIS — Humorist Garrison Keillor says he is in negotiations with Minnesota Public Radio after the radio network cut ties with the former A Prairie Home Companion host over unspecified allegations of inappropriate behavior.
Keillor wrote on his Facebook page Friday that a second day of mediation was held at a law firm in downtown Minneapolis, but he provided no details. He told The Associated Press on Monday that he could not discuss negotiations until they are finished. Another session is scheduled for Thursday, Keillor said.
Angie Andresen, a spokeswoman for MPR, said Monday the two sides “are talking about issues related to the transition of their business relationship.”
MPR announced in late November it was terminating its contracts with Keillor after learning of allegations of “inappropriate behavior” with a person who worked with him. Keillor told the Star Tribune that he had put his hand on a woman’s bare back as he tried to console her.
Outraged Keillor fans have criticized MPR for firing Keillor after four decades of his telling folksy stories about his fictional Minnesota hometown of Lake Wobegon. MPR had received 153 cancellation requests from its 133,000 members as of Nov. 30. Keillor has said MPR was wrong to fire him without a full investigation. The radio network has said the allegations against Keillor “were carefully investigated before MPR made the decision to terminate contracts with Mr. Keillor.”
Former Wisconsin Public Radio head Jack Mitchell said he hopes Keillor and MPR could resolve their breakup. MPR has removed archived A Prairie Home Companion shows featuring Keillor as well as The Writer’s Almanac. MPR also removed Keillor’s daily reading of literary events and a poem from its website and ended rebroadcasts of Keillor-hosted shows.
“They’ve tried to make an absolute break, which struck me as overreaction,” Mitchell said.
Keillor, 75, retired in 2016 as host of Prairie Home, an old-time radio variety show he created in 1974. The Saturday evening show, now titled Live from Here, continues with Keillor’s hand-picked successor, mandolinist Chris Thile.