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Radio Host, Writer Garrison Keillor to Speak at The U (University of South Dakota)


VERMILLION, S.D., Sept. 14 -- Garrison Keillor, the longtime host and writer of “A Prairie Home Companion,” will speak at The University of South Dakota on Thursday, Oct. 6.

The program, “Why I Am Trying to be More Truthful,” is presented by the Freedom Forum and The University of South Dakota as part of the Al Neuharth Legacy Series, which features speakers who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement and leadership in the media. The series is named for USA TODAY and Freedom Forum founder Al Neuharth, a South Dakota native and a 1950 graduate of USD.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6, at the DakotaDome on campus at The U. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.; general seating. From 6-7 p.m., individuals arriving early will be treated to musical entertainment.

Keillor’s remarks will be carried live from 7-8:30 p.m. CDT on SDPB Television. SDPB plans to repeat the program at 1 p.m. CST, Sunday, Nov. 13. After Keillor’s remarks, the popular author will take questions from the audience (time permitting).

“Keillor, who speaks from both the heartland and the heart, mixes music, gentle humor, nostalgia and wisdom into a program that for 30 years has endeared him and his players to a diverse audience across the USA and around the world,” Neuharth said.

Keillor is the host and writer of “A Prairie Home Companion” and “The Writer’s Almanac,” both heard on public radio stations across the nation. “A Prairie Home Companion,” now in its 30th year of production, airs live on Saturdays and features comedy sketches, music and Keillor’s signature monologue, “The News from Lake Wobegon.” A film version of “A Prairie Home Companion” -- featuring Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan, Tommy Lee Jones and Keillor himself as a radio announcer -- is scheduled to be released in early 2006. The film was directed by Robert Altman, with a screenplay by Keillor.

Keillor is the author of more than a dozen books, including “Lake Wobegon Days,” “The Book of Guys,” “Love Me” and “Homegrown Democrat,” and editor of the anthology “Good Poems.” This month, “Good Poems for Hard Times,” a follow-up to the 2002 work, was published by Viking Books. His weekly current affairs and humor column, “The Old Scout,” is distributed worldwide by Tribune Media Services.

Keillor was born in Anoka, Minn., in 1942. As a student at the University of Minnesota, he got his first on-air experience as a radio announcer at campus station KUOM. After graduating in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in English, Keillor returned to radio three years later, taking a job with Minnesota Public Radio on a classical music program called “A Prairie Home Morning Show” -- named for the Prairie Home cemetery in Moorehead, Minn. It was during this time, while researching a piece about Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry for The New Yorker, that Keillor envisioned a radio show featuring musical guests and commercials for imaginary products.

On July 6, 1974, Keillor brought that vision to life, hosting the first live broadcast of “A Prairie Home Companion” at the Janet Wallace Auditorium in St. Paul, Minn. Over the next 13 years, the program became a weekly fixture at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater, and received the Edward R. Murrow Award, the George Foster Peabody Award and a medal from the American Academy of Arts & Letters.

Feeling the show had run its course, Keillor ended “A Prairie Home Companion” for a short time in June 1987. Two years later, his unique variety of programming would return to the airwaves under a new name -- “The American Radio Company” -- at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The new show was carried by more than 200 stations during its four seasons on the air. In 1992, Keillor announced that he was moving the program back home to Minnesota. The following year, the show reverted to its original name, “A Prairie Home Companion.” Today, more than 550 public radio stations broadcast “A Prairie Home Companion.” The show is heard abroad on America One and the Armed Forces Network.

Keillor lives in St. Paul with his wife and daughter. He has two grandsons. Keillor was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1994. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters.

Through an ongoing series of conferences, meetings, panel discussions and lectures in Vermillion, the Al Neuharth Legacy Series engages university students, faculty, professionals, state leaders, experts and the public in tackling critical issues in the media.

The Freedom Forum and The University of South Dakota have a long tradition of bringing to campus individuals who have achieved remarkable success in the media, including: Walter Cronkite of CBS News (1989); columnist and author Carl T. Rowan (1990); Helen Thomas of United Press International (1991); Tom Brokaw of NBC News (1992); Larry King of CNN (1993); Charles Kuralt of CBS News (1994); Albert R. Hunt of The Wall Street Journal and Judy Woodruff of CNN (1995); Robert MacNeil of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions (1996); Cokie Roberts of ABC News (1997); Tim Russert of NBC News and Louis D. Boccardi, president and chief executive officer of The Associated Press (1998); John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University and award-winning journalist for The Tennessean (1999); Jim Lehrer, executive editor and anchor of “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” on PBS (2001); Tom Curley, president and publisher of USA TODAY (2002); and Don Hewitt, “60 Minutes” creator and CBS News executive producer (2004).

About the Al Neuharth Media Center

The Al Neuharth Media Center on The University of South Dakota campus was dedicated in 2003. It houses Freedom Forum operations as well as the media and journalism organizations on campus, including South Dakota Public Broadcasting, USD’s Department of Contemporary Media and Journalism, the Native American Journalists Association, The Volante, which Neuharth edited as a student, campus radio station KAOR and television station KYOT.

About The University of South Dakota

Founded in 1862, The University of South Dakota is designated as the only public liberal arts university in the state and is home to a large College of Arts and Sciences, a School of Education and the state’s only School of Law, School of Medicine, accredited School of Business and College of Fine Arts. It has an enrollment of approximately 8,100 students taught by 400 faculty members. More information is available at


EDITOR’S NOTE: Photographs of Garrison Keillor are available for download at These images are made available to the media for publicity and program marketing purposes only. Please credit the photographers.

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