Garrison Keillor, the longtime host of A Prairie Home Companion, has been fired by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) over allegations of inappropriate behavior, according to The Associated Press.
In an email to The Associated Press, Keillor said he was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.”
Update: Speaking to The Star Tribune, Keillor said he “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.”
“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,” he added.
In its own statement, MPR confirmed that it was ending its business relationship “effective immediately.” As part of the separation, there will be no further rebroadcasts of A Prairie Home Companion hosted by Keillor. Additionally, MPR intends to change the name of the program, which is currently hosted by Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile.
Keillor, 75, created A Prairie Home Companion and served as its host for over 50 years. At it peak, the variety program could be heard on more than 700 public radio stations across the United States, attracting over four million listeners weekly. It received a Peabody Award in 1980.
He’s also penned several books set in the show’s fictional town of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. The audio book version of his 1985 novel, Lake Wobegon Days, won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Album.
Keillor retired as host of A Prairie Home Companion in 2016 and was replaced by Thile. He continued to produce The Writer’s Almanac for Minnesota Public Radio.
Hours before news of his firing broke, Keillor penned an op-ed in defense of Minnesota Senator Al Franken, who himself has been accused of sexual misconnect. He called Franken’s groping of a woman’s breast “low comedy,” adding that it would be “pure absurdity” for Franken to lose his job because of it.