On Air
Open In Popup
MPR News

How MPR unveiled 'A Prairie Home Companion' in 1974

Share story

Garrison Keillor's final 'Prairie Home Companion'
Garrison Keillor on stage at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles during his final show as host of "A Prairie Home Companion," July 1, 2016. A show first announced on MPR in 1974.
Nate Ryan | MPR 2016

Throughout 2017, Minnesota Public Radio will celebrate 50 years on the air by sharing highlights from our archives, connecting Minnesota's past to its present. | This aired in 1974.

Fundraising has been a staple of life at Minnesota Public Radio throughout its 50 years on the air. But there's one bit of pledge drive banter that remains the stuff of legend.

MPR marks 50 years
• More stories from the archives
• Join the celebration, tell us your story

While making their fundraising pitch to listeners in 1974, morning music program host Garrison Keillor and then-MPR president Bill Kling paused to tease the audience about a new weekly music and comedy program MPR was about to debut.

Kling: Why don't we have you do a program on Saturdays?

Keillor: Hey that's an idea.

Kling: Is that right? Alright, how about-

Keillor: Think that might start about the middle of June?

Kling: Middle of June, about 4:30 and maybe-

Keillor: I got nothing on for then, I just checked my book over here.

Kling: How about a live radio broadcast?

Keillor: Live is fine with me, back where I come from they're all live.

Kling: See it's not hard being a president, you just decide what you want to do and you sit down and you talk to the people that can do it and we've now agreed that you're going to have a- what do we call it?

Keillor: Um, call it "A Prairie Home Companion."

And that's how "A Prairie Home Companion," a program that went on to attract millions of listeners for decades, was officially announced to the public.

To listen to their full discussion, click the audio player above.