MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Garrison Keillor, the former host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” said Wednesday he has been fired by Minnesota Public Radio over allegations of improper behavior.
Minnesota Public Radio confirmed Keillor had been fired, saying it received a single allegation of “inappropriate behavior” and doesn’t know of any other similar allegations.
Keillor told The Associated Press of his firing in an email. In a follow-up statement, he said he was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.”
Later Wednesday, Keillor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune he was fired because he put his hand on a woman’s bare back as he tried to console her.
In an email to the Star Tribune, Keillor said that he was trying to pat the woman’s back after she had told him “about her unhappiness.” Keillor wrote that the woman’s shirt was open and his hand went up about 6 inches.
Keillor says he apologized when the woman recoiled, and also emailed the woman an apology. He says she replied she’d forgiven him and “not to think about it.”
Keillor says he considered her a friend and they remained friendly “right up until her lawyer called.”
Keillor, 75, retired as host of his long-running public radio variety show in 2016. His hand-picked successor, mandolinist Chris Thile, is in his second season as “Prairie Home” host.
The statement came shortly after Keillor, an avowed Democrat, wrote a syndicated column that ridiculed the idea that Sen. Al Franken should resign over allegations of sexual harassment.
Keillor started his Saturday evening show featuring tales of his fictional Minnesota hometown of Lake Wobegon — “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average” — in 1974. The show featured musical acts, folksy humor, parody ads for fake products such as Powdermilk Biscuits and the centerpiece, Keillor delivering a seemingly off-the-cuff monologue, “The News From Lake Wobegon,” in his rich baritone voice.
Keillor bowed out with a final show at the Hollywood Bowl in July 2016 and turned the show over to Thile, a mandolinist and frequent “Prairie Home” guest musician. Keillor went on a 28-city bus tour this summer, vowing it would be his last tour, but he continues on the road with solo shows.
Keillor still produces the radio show, “The Writer’s Almanac,” for syndication, and is finishing a Lake Wobegon screenplay and a memoir about growing up in Minnesota.
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