Humorist Garrison Keillor is speaking out about his firing from Minnesota Public Radio for “inappropriate behavior.”
Keillor issued a statement on his website that called his dismissal “poetic irony” and hinted there was more to the story than what his bosses had heard.
“I am deeply grateful for all the years I had doing A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac, the summer tours, the outdoor shows at Tanglewood and Wolf Trap, the friendships of musicians and actors, the saga of Lake Wobegon, the songs and sketches, Guy Noir, Dusty & Lefty, the sheer pleasure of standing in the warmth of that audience,” the author wrote. “A person could not hope for more than what I was given. I’ve been fired over a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard. Most stories are. It’s some sort of poetic irony to be knocked off the air by a story, having told so many of them myself, but I’m 75 and don’t have any interest in arguing about this. And I cannot in conscience bring danger to a great organization I’ve worked hard for since 1969. I am sorry for all the poets whose work I won’t be reading on the radio and sorry for the people who will lose work on account of this. But my profound feeling is that of gratitude, especially to my wife Jenny, and for this painful experience that has brought us even closer together.”
Keillor also broke the news of his dismissal himself in an email to the Associated Press. Minnesota Public Radio later confirmed the news via Twitter, writing, “Minnesota Public Radio is terminating its contracts with Garrison Keillor and his private media companies after recently learning of allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.”
The Star Tribune added a bit more detail earlier Wednesday, saying Keillor explained to the paper, “I put my hand on a woman’s bare back. I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”
Keillor also told the paper: “Getting fired is a real distinction in broadcasting and I’ve waited fifty years for the honor. All of my heroes got fired. I only wish it could’ve been for something more heroic.”
Keillor has loomed large in popular culture for decades as a distinguished voice actor, author, and radio host. His show, A Prairie Home Companion, launched in 1974 and ran Saturday evenings, distinguished for its wry humor and popular musical guests. He stepped down from hosting duties last year, but remained attached to MPR as a producer on The Writer’s Almanac for syndication. He’s a recipient of the Peabody Award and the National Humanities Medal, and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1994.