Could ‘Prairie Home Companion’ be getting a musical makeover?

garrisonPublic radio is saying farewell to its favorite, wise-cracking, Midwestern baritone.

Garrison Keillor, creator and longtime host of Prairie Home Companion, announced earlier this week that he’s retiring. After four decades of entertaining radio listeners with his easy-going charm and folksy comedy, the 72-year-old says he’s definitely calling it quits after next season.

Undoubtedly, Keillor’s successor has some big (red) shoes to fill. But we’d be lying if we said we weren’t curious about the next PHC host Keillor has officially tapped – Chris Thile.

You may know 34-year-old Thile from the progressive bluegrass quintet Punch Brothers. Or perhaps you know him from his musical trio Nickel Creek, the band he co-founded at age 8.


There’s also his collaborations with Edgar Meyer, Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Béla Fleck and more. There’s his 2012 MacArthur Genius grant. Oh, and you’ve probably heard us play him on KXT more than a few times.

So why are we so interested to see what this “mandolin whiz” brings to the table? For the same reason as Keillor – he hopes Thile will help return PHC to its roots as a music show.

Listeners of PHC know that Keillor and the show have always been passionate about American roots music and the genre’s artists. But in choosing Thile – what with his massive musical resume – can we expect a more music-focused program? Perhaps more collaborative performances like this lovely NPR Tiny Desk concert, or this Punch Brother’s Radiohead cover?

Only time will tell, we suppose. Regardless, we’re excited to see what’s in store for Lake Wobegoners. And come 2016, we’ll be listening eagerly by our radios to Thile’s debut – Powdermilk in hand.