Nobody in history has ever listened to an entire episode front-to-back
November 19, 2014 1:42 PM   Subscribe

 
Perfect.
posted by jettloe at 1:49 PM on November 19, 2014


Brilliant.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:49 PM on November 19, 2014


This show exists so that our uncles can troll us by pretending to be super into it. "Hey can you turn down the basketball game so I can listen to the 276 hour PCH marathon?" I long for oblivion, Uncle Roger.
posted by selfnoise at 1:49 PM on November 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


I think you could use prairie home companion to replace the electric shock they use as negative reinforcement on lab animal tests. I know that's my physical reaction to it when I hear Keillor's awful nasal drone over my car radio.
posted by Ferreous at 1:49 PM on November 19, 2014 [16 favorites]


Now that Car Talk is just in rerun for obvious reasons I kinda wonder what will happen to public radio on the weekends when PHC finally gets put out to pasture. I mean how are they going to fill the 4-6 hours it seems like PHC eats up on both Saturday and Sunday? More completely annoying quiz shows with unfunny comedians? More Ira Glass being earnest?

My current tolerance level for PHC is roughly 5 minutes so yeah this bit does seem pretty much accurate but I guess it will be a sad thing when it goes even though it seemed old timey when I was a kid decades ago and doesn't seem to be getting more modern.
posted by vuron at 1:51 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Clever, even if it is shooting lutefisk in barrels.
posted by jbickers at 1:51 PM on November 19, 2014 [44 favorites]


Nobody in history has ever listened to an entire episode front-to-back

Except my grandmother, who decided she loved PHC after my parents and I moved to MN, and me and my mother, endlessly scrabbling at the child-locked car doors trying to get away, anywhere, please, no more Garrison Keillor.
posted by dorque at 1:54 PM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


I must have some sort of Benjamin Button thing going on. I loved PHC as a kid but have become increasingly intolerant of it over time.
posted by brundlefly at 1:54 PM on November 19, 2014 [70 favorites]


It makes my mom happy, so that's all I really need from it. Also, despite the fact that I can't take more that three minutes of Prarie, I genuinely love Writer's Almanac. So there's that.

This really made me laugh though. I kept thinking "Now do Vinyl Cafe!"
posted by lumpenprole at 1:55 PM on November 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


I also like Homer Simpson's response to Prairie Home Companion: banging the TV and yelling "BE MORE FUNNY!"
posted by jonp72 at 1:55 PM on November 19, 2014 [44 favorites]


Perfect, and I say this as someone who sat with his parents listening to hours of this (both at home and while driving) while I was growing up.

It's a radio show from a long ago time, perfectly preserved in amber. It's fantastic and I don't know what will happen when it goes away.
posted by Hactar at 1:55 PM on November 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


I love the show. It's excellent. (Also, while I am an uncle my enthusiasm for the show is real.)

The joke show is truly great.
posted by oddman at 1:55 PM on November 19, 2014 [14 favorites]




So... I love PHC and always leave in a better mood when I catch it on the radio in the car.

I guess I'm the exception...
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:56 PM on November 19, 2014 [16 favorites]


Spot on, though I once caught the [annual?] joke show, which was an enjoyable exception. They taught me 2 knock knock jokes, which I continue to use to this day:

I heard a great new knock knock joke. You start it!


Knock knock.
Who's there?
Control freak. Now you say, "Control freak who?"
Control freak who?
[remain silent and stare at your audience, because I still haven't quite mastered the delivery]
posted by casualinference at 1:56 PM on November 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


I liked it as a kid too. It was sweet and earnest and familiar and kind of soothing, and I didn't get any of the jokes, but then I didn't get any of the jokes on any grownup show, so I was used to listening to things that seemed pointless and just figuring it was a bunch of grownup jokes that I didn't get. I think PHC is a perfect show for someone who hasn't grown a sense of humor yet.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:57 PM on November 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


This is so fucking good that, reading it, I felt an overwhelming urge to post it to metafilter
posted by Greg Nog at 1:57 PM on November 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


(OK I'm also still super fond of the joke show thing when they do that.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:58 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's this thing that happens when non-MN people discover you've lived in MN for any length of time, which is that they all really want to turn on PHC for you, or play back-recordings of it, or something. I don't know why. My in-laws, who are lovely, did this the first time I was at their house and I eventually had to leave to go hyperventilate in the bathroom, which I still feel bad about.
posted by dorque at 1:59 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I kept thinking "Now do Vinyl Cafe!"

As much as people complain about Garrison Keillor's voice, it's THAT guy's voice for me. I have to very slowly and carefully press another station button when that's on because otherwise the reptilian brain will take over and I will swerve into the median while screeching like a Pterodactyl.
posted by selfnoise at 1:59 PM on November 19, 2014 [28 favorites]


I like it? If you need the Canadian alternate-universe version of PHC, listen to The Vinyl Cafe.
posted by GuyZero at 2:00 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh sheesh, I missed lumpenprole up there. Anyway, TVC is eitehr an homage or a ripoff of PHC depending on how you squint at it.
posted by GuyZero at 2:01 PM on November 19, 2014


A few minutes of PHC a year is plenty enough.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 2:01 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


This was written by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, now best known (perhaps) for creating BoJack Horseman.
posted by rorgy at 2:01 PM on November 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


(I'll admit I like the goofy sound effects bits. Because I like goofy sound effects and the Police Academy movies can only take you so far.)
posted by brundlefly at 2:01 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean how are they going to fill the 4-6 hours it seems like PHC eats up on both Saturday and Sunday?

With programming? Hell, just with dead air? Lambs being slaughtered?

Prairie Home Companion is just visceral proof that lots of people have preferences and tastes that are so fundamentally unlike mine that I really, honestly, cannot understand them. I can't imagine not hating it.

I understand that it's impossible for it to be objectively bad. I understand that the people here in this thread who like it just have different tastes than I do, and not objectively worse tastes. But really and truly I cannot quite wrap my head around how anyone would ever like it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:01 PM on November 19, 2014 [34 favorites]


To an extent I get the impression that the writer doesn't really know what radio shows are for.

I'm long out of the habit of listening to PHC, but I was still massively disappointed in the movie. My disappointment took this form: "So here's a guy who's been writing and telling stories for decades but when he makes a movie it isn't about any of them, it's about being old and your radio show going off the air and oh yeah he knows every folk musician on Earth but for the movie he's got famous actors playing at being folk musicians."
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:02 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


PHC is perfect, and I am not the only person who thinks so.
posted by minervous at 2:02 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I mean how are they going to fill the 4-6 hours it seems like PHC eats up on both Saturday and Sunday?

If current trends in my area are any indication, they'll just play Wait Wait Don't Tell me 4-6 more times.
posted by uosuaq at 2:03 PM on November 19, 2014 [19 favorites]


For those who want to quintessential Vinyl Cafe experience, listen to Dave Cooks The Turkey. If you can make it past the intro, you'll probably be OK.
posted by GuyZero at 2:03 PM on November 19, 2014


For some reason I have always confused Garrison Keillor with Kelsey Grammer.
posted by Lanark at 2:03 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


When I was a kid, we'd listen to this every Saturday. And I liked it! I haven't listed to it in like a millennium though. It really could be pretty funny!
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:04 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


This show exists so that our uncles can troll us by pretending to be super into it. "Hey can you turn down the basketball game so I can listen to the 276 hour PCH marathon?"

Oh man, I am definitely doing this when I have nieces and nephews.

Except then they might play along and I'd have to listen to it. Argh!
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:05 PM on November 19, 2014


My favorite thing ever was of course the Prairie Home Companion JOKE SHOW, aka the pinnacle of hilarity for Little Me, especially:

Two penguins are standing on an ice floe. One of them says to the other, "Hey, you know, it kind of looks like you're wearing a tuxedo." And the other penguin says, "Who says I'm not?"

FUCKING GOLD, JERRY
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:05 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


"So here's a guy who's been writing and telling stories for decades but when he makes a movie it isn't about any of them, it's about being old and your radio show going off the air and oh yeah he knows every folk musician on Earth but for the movie he's got famous actors playing at being folk musicians."

What I find fascinating about that film is that it was Altman's last before passing away and it's so much about death.
posted by brundlefly at 2:06 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh, boy, and as I said it has definitely been at least ten years, but from memory: Oh has your family tried em, Powder Milk? Oooooh has your family tried em, Powder Milk? OH IF YOUR FAMILY'S TRIED EM THEN YOU KNOW YOU SATISFIED EM THEY'RE A REAL HOT ITEM, POWDER MILK
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:07 PM on November 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


When I was a kid, we'd listen to this every Saturday. And I liked it! I haven't listed to it in like a millennium though.

That's OK, the exact same episode you were listening to back then is still going on if you want to tune back in.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:08 PM on November 19, 2014 [36 favorites]


There are people in this thread who think that PHC is an ACTUAL old-timey radio show, aren't there? And not an homage/satire of the genre.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 2:09 PM on November 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


PHC is like the radio equivalent of a dream. Strange and mostly-unconnected vignettes divorced of any real context, just kind of floating out there in the highway static. And then something breaks the spell, like a rest stop, and you realize you've been listening to this thing for an hour and couldn't for the life of you say what it was about.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:09 PM on November 19, 2014 [35 favorites]


I also like Homer Simpson's response to Prairie Home Companion: banging the TV and yelling "BE MORE FUNNY!"

Thus.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:09 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh god I thought I'd try one of those vinyl cafe links because you know there is no way it could be as bad as PHC but holy fuck Canada why would you make a homage to PHC and then use a host like that.

I take back everything I've ever said good about Canada and Canadians because that's like weapon grade awful.
posted by vuron at 2:09 PM on November 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


I personally think PCH has more in common with Firesign Theater than most fans of either would like to admit
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:10 PM on November 19, 2014 [13 favorites]


I can't help thinking of that scene in the Wire where Bodie ends up listening to Prairie Home Companion. His thoughts are my thoughts.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:10 PM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


I don't mind PHC when I happen to catch it... and I'll still sit through Wait Wait occasionally... the one weekend NPR show I really don't understand is Whadya Know.
posted by kmz at 2:10 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I sometimes listen to Wits, which is like PHC for people who tweet. I'm not proud.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:11 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Prairie Home Companion is just visceral proof that lots of people have preferences and tastes that are so fundamentally unlike mine that I really, honestly, cannot understand them. I can't imagine not hating it.

vs.

So... I love PHC and always leave in a better mood when I catch it on the radio in the car.

Insofar as tastes go, yep, wide variety. Be aware of what this show really is: a descendant of an historical genre of radio performance. It offers a (moderately updated) slice of life from the isolation of twentieth century rural life. I don't mind listening to an especially well crafted 'museum exhibit' once in a while.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:11 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh god I thought I'd try one of those vinyl cafe links because you know there is no way it could be as bad as PHC but holy fuck Canada why would you make a homage to PHC and then use a host like that.

Holy crap. I just jumped around a bit in an episode and... wow. Just wow.
posted by brundlefly at 2:12 PM on November 19, 2014


Nobody in history has ever listened to an entire episode front-to-back

So, okay, I understand the thread is going to be mostly LOLolds and LOLnpr, but to me PHC was great as background entertainment while I drank coffee on Sunday afternoons, doing the NYT crossword and procrastinating from doing something productive like cleaning the gutters or mowing the lawn.

It's gotten tired over the years, but I'll really miss it when it's gone and something much more slick and cynical has taken its place.
posted by aught at 2:12 PM on November 19, 2014 [26 favorites]


Yep that guy on TVC is unlistenable.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 2:13 PM on November 19, 2014


When a person is writing a thing for public consumption and they do this Millennial thing, with the gratuitous question marks? That marks them as as "out of touch" with my generation in one direction as PHC is in the other, so I kinda lose interest in what they have to say? At Paragraph 6?

"So this idiosyncratic, strangely popular old radio show is idiosyncratic and old? And strangely popular?"
posted by edheil at 2:14 PM on November 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


I once had a job so boring it made me like A Prairie Home Companion.

My favorite bits are the Mom skits. Garrison Keillor is really only any good when he's being aggressively passive-aggressive.
posted by Diablevert at 2:15 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


edheil that's how they talk they might as well write it that way.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 2:15 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm a huge fan of PHC. That said, the commentary in the linked article is sort of like something Garrison Keillor might say if he was making fun of himself and his show. (Except that he would do it better.)

I can't quite decide if the author is being sincere or if he's attempting Keilloresque satire.
posted by tdismukes at 2:16 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


I will finally admit to it though it is hard... PHC has been a guilty secret pleasure of mine for years. I don't seek it out but when I come across it on the dial I can't turn away from it. So soothing. Which is weird when you think about it because Garrison Keillor always sounds like he's literally on his last breath.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:17 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


One time there was a Prarie Home Companion post on metafilter and I opined that I detected some inauthenticity in Garrison Keilor. The impression I get from his monologues and his magazine pieces is that he is from a really dinky little town out in the country, whereas wikipedia says he is from Anoka which is 10 miles north of Minneapolis as the mallard or merganser fly. A couple of metafilter users immediately corrected me that back when Garrison was growing up Anoka was indeed in the middle of nowhere.

Does anybody happen to know if Garrison ever actually stepped on a cowtird? saw a chicken run around with its head chopped off? hoed in a beanfield?
posted by bukvich at 2:18 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've always rather liked PHC but my wife absolutely HATES it (Garrison gives her the creeps). Guess how often I get to listen to it. Go ahead, guess...
posted by jim in austin at 2:18 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I remember when PHC first started, or maybe when I first discovered it. It was very fresh, funny and a loving parody of my best memories of how radio used to be before TV came along and fucked everything (and I mean everything) up. I loved the show. Then it started taking itself seriously and accepting real commercials and it went stale and I haven't listened in years. Keillor should have followed the excellent example set by Jerry Seinfeld and quit while he was ahead.
posted by charlesminus at 2:19 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I take back everything I've ever said good about Canada and Canadians because that's like weapon grade awful.

Yep that guy on TVC is unlistenable.

Holy crap. I just jumped around a bit in an episode and... wow. Just wow.


You're in the car, you're driving, the time is going to pass anyway... you need to give the stories the time they need to build out. They ramble. Stuart Maclean definitely over-enunciates everything. But they're great in their rambling way. Most of the stories are mediocre. Some have been incredibly funny. Many are about as maudlin as humanly possible.
posted by GuyZero at 2:20 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I didn't realize Whaddaya Know is still on. It's mystifying; has that guy ever said one funny thing ever?
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:21 PM on November 19, 2014 [20 favorites]


ctrl+f "ketchup"
fail
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:21 PM on November 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


Garrison Kellior is to the dull what Howard Stern is to the vulgar. Or something.
posted by jonmc at 2:24 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Almost perfect; they forgot to mention the Bob Dylan parody, preferably of "Blowin' in the Wind."
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:25 PM on November 19, 2014


Those of you dissing PHC and asking what they'll fill the slot with if it goes off the air - beware, lest ye end up with Jonathan Schwartz.


ba-da-da-da-da-daaaaaa....ba-da-da-da-da-dee-da-daaaaaa.....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:25 PM on November 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


I spent several months hiking and liked listening. Then I moved from the east coast suburban sprawl to a little Minnesota town in the middle of nowhere (comparatively). 5 minutes to cornfields in any direction you chose. As small town life twisted in my gut over the course of several years I found myself hating A Prairie Home Companion more and more. It represented everything I didn't like about that tiny little town and as soon as I stumbled across it the radio would get switched off and I'd be reminded of how miserable I was. I've since moved to a city that's a much better fit for me (still in Minnesota) and I can hear that old piano down the avenue without wanting to punch someone in the face.
posted by roue at 2:25 PM on November 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


I have always found PHC to be unlistenable. I've tried. Can't. This piece is exactly. I mean exactly. Wow.
posted by NedKoppel at 2:26 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


The impression I get from his monologues and his magazine pieces is that he is from a really dinky little town out in the country, whereas wikipedia says he is from Anoka which is 10 miles north of Minneapolis as the mallard or merganser fly.

I dunno much about real Minnesota vs. Lake Woebegone, but Garrison Keillor is like a bajillion --- I think he was a kid in the 30s and 40s. Joint might be a suburb now and still have been pretty rural when he was growing up. Plus IIRC correctly his family adhered to some particularly dour, obscure two-ticks-shy-of-a-cult sect of Christianity which may have resulted in a bit more 19th-century-ish of a childhood than a mere scan of Google maps would suggest.
posted by Diablevert at 2:27 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I like PHC, but I listen to podcasts of old Jack Benny and Fibber McGee & Molly shows, so I guess I'm one of THOSE guys.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:27 PM on November 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


1. I'm 99% sure that Wits is getting a big push partly so that there's something on deck when PHC shuts down. The next generation will have divisive opinions on John Moe, rather than Keillor.

2. In a past job, my wife had to have an email exchange with Keillor about an event he was involved in, and she said it was really weird and unsettling how fond he was of double-entendres about hot dogs.
posted by COBRA! at 2:28 PM on November 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


I've been scoffing at PHC since I read an anthology of children's stories that included something about Lake Wobegon, at some point in elementary school.
posted by Sara C. at 2:30 PM on November 19, 2014


Like I mean is that even a place
posted by Sara C. at 2:30 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't wait to see his next blog post about going to the opera and what he thought of that.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:30 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


> There are people in this thread who think that PHC is an ACTUAL old-timey radio show

By this point, it is. I'm almost the same age as it, and I've got greying hair and a minivan. Nixon was president when it started. Microsoft and Apple didn't exist. It's old.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:30 PM on November 19, 2014 [17 favorites]


Keillor should have followed the excellent example set by Jerry Seinfeld and quit while he was ahead.

He tried back in '87, but it didn't stick.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:32 PM on November 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


I like Prairie Home, although I get more enjoyment out of the game shows or the news. Shows I will change the station on, however:

Fresh Air, unless there's someone particularly interesting on
This American Life
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:33 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


PHC always makes me want to call my local NPR affiliate and ask for my donation back.
posted by Cookiebastard at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


I lived in the US in the 90s and listened to a Prairie Home Companion. It and Car Talk, and then the weird array of things on US TV like Married with Children, COPS and the Simpsons, gave us our strongest argument that Americans did get irony, and were just pretending not to. It wasn't possible for that disparate array of things to come out of one country without tons of irony.

I have a lot to rethink if PHC was sincere.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 2:35 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


You can say anything you want about PHC, but that story about the Lutheran Ministers on the pontoon boat set the gold standard for comedy.
posted by HuronBob at 2:35 PM on November 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


I'm particularly puzzled by the way he goes on about how many songs there are. Yeah, "songs" on the "radio". What's up with that, amirite?
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:36 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I understand that it's impossible for it to be objectively bad. I understand that the people here in this thread who like it just have different tastes than I do, and not objectively worse tastes. But really and truly I cannot quite wrap my head around how anyone would ever like it.

I used to think that it was just one of those mystifying things that old people liked, along with overcooked vegetables and Buicks. And then I went to college and met some people who loved the show and would listen to reruns, so I realized it was a taste thing, not just a question of age.

Personally I'd listen to a million hours of the worst, out-of-tunest hippy jam band playing half-remembered Grateful Dead covers before I'd listen to five minutes of Prairie Home Companion. His self-satisfied croon is like nails on a blackboard for me, and yet there are hours and hours of the show on my local NPR stations on the weekend and it clearly brings in the subscriptions.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:37 PM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


I still love PHC from back in the day when I feel asleep to an audio book of Tales From Lake Woebegon (come on guys! The one about the septic tank and the parade!) But ever since the Altman movie I haven't been able to hear Keilor's voice without pondering my own mortality. It's not a bad kind of mortality. There can be bluegrass singalongs in the afterlife, that's cool with me. I hope Lily Tomlin will be there.
posted by theweasel at 2:37 PM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


I don't have children, so so far, the closest I've come to the Sex Talk was when my SO asked me "Why do people listen to The Prairie Home Companion?" while we were driving, and I furrowed my brow and inhaled and gripped the steering wheel a little more tightly, attempting to gather my thoughts.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:38 PM on November 19, 2014 [71 favorites]


This is the kind of article you'd get if you showed "O Brother Where Art Thou" to someone who's seen all seven "The Fast and the Furious" films.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:40 PM on November 19, 2014 [83 favorites]


I live in a place that gets both DC and Baltimore's NPR stations clearly, however when I'm driving Northward to visit my parents there's a Rubicon (the Susquehanna river, typically) where I lose DC and have to listen to Baltimore. The two stations stagger their Sunday morning stuff (when I'm typically making the drive) so I'll be mildly enjoying Wait Wait, and then have to play a game of chicken for how long I wait until I finally ahve to turn over to the Baltimore station with Gaaaaarrison Keeeeeillor on it. Instead, I typically put on 92Q instead.
posted by codacorolla at 2:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I love "O Brother Where Art Thou" and the "Fast/Furious" films.

I contain multitudes.
posted by brundlefly at 2:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [35 favorites]


I don't mind PHC when I happen to catch it... and I'll still sit through Wait Wait occasionally... the one weekend NPR show I really don't understand is Whadya Know.

For me this is "Says You!" It's like being trapped at the worst mid-tier university faculty dinner party in the universe.
posted by murphy slaw at 2:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


I mean how are they going to fill the 4-6 hours it seems like PHC eats up on both Saturday and Sunday? More completely annoying quiz shows with unfunny comedians? More Ira Glass being earnest?

There are a lot of people doing creative podcasts out there, I'm sure they can find something they could move over to radio if they looked. More Night Vale for everybody!
posted by Drinky Die at 2:43 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


> This is the kind of article you'd get if you showed "O Brother Where Art Thou" to someone who's seen all seven "The Fast and the Furious" films

"O Brother Where Art Thou" and "The Fast and the Furious" are entertaining. Prairie Home Companion, on the other hand...
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:43 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


You *fweeeeee* forgot about *fwoooooiiii* the odd pauses *thuiwwwwwww* for nose *fwuu*whistles.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:44 PM on November 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


I love PHC. Keillor has the litterateur's eye for the ridiculous and the lovely in people. And they get some great musical guests sometimes.

I can kindof get how the focus on the dear hearts and gentle people of Smalltown USA and the old timey variety radio aesthetics could drive some listeners off, but I think they're as good a source as any to draw on when painting in the human comedy, and we could do worse as reminders that there's a whole world outside of the high status modern metro success narratives (in fact, we *do* worse in "country" music and the Republican party).
posted by weston at 2:44 PM on November 19, 2014 [18 favorites]


I've always had a pretty low tolerance for PHC, as someone who grew up listening to it (de gustibus, etc.). But there was a period where I got my hands on some old CDs where every track was Keillor doing the News From Lake Woebegone. I put them on, because I always kind of liked that part -though, you know, I'd lose the thread- and what I found amazed. Disposable stories, yes, but ones with a mild kick, a beginning, middle, and end, and a nice slice of life to them. When I learned that the things are entirely improvised it kind of knocked me off my feet. The show might still not be to my taste, but man, the guy has chops.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2014 [27 favorites]


This is the kind of article you'd get if you showed "O Brother Where Art Thou" to someone who's seen all seven "The Fast and the Furious" films.

Both of those are good (and self-aware), unlike Prairie Home Companion.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2014


Two penguins are standing on an ice floe. One of them says to the other, "Hey, you know, it kind of looks like you're wearing a tuxedo." And the other penguin says, "Who says I'm not?"

The greatest moment in the movie is when we find out this joke, long known as that joke, actually killed someone.
posted by JHarris at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2014


I would rather listen to PHC for 8 months straight that watch another F&F movie. I guess this is growing up?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Does anybody happen to know if Garrison ever actually stepped on a cowtird?

Yes, I can confirm that.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is the kind of article you'd get if you showed "O Brother Where Art Thou" to someone who's seen all seven "The Fast and the Furious" films.

Better yet, make it The Straight Story.
posted by weston at 2:47 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


PHC was clever and good in about 1983.

IMHO it went to shit when Keillor decided to start singing (for many years he did not sing!). No matter when you place the decline, no show can be good after 200 years of 4 hour episodes.

You know what else is bad? The PHC movie. Proof that no matter how many great actors you put in a room, you can't turn that into good radio.
posted by latkes at 2:47 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


> For me this is "Says You!"

For me it's the supposedly spontaneous bits in Wiretap, where the producer is so startled by the other reporter's story even though presumably by this point they've had at least five editorial meetings and know perfectly well what everyone is working on and even if it were genuine why wouldn't the edit it out argh.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:48 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


My uncle is a master troll, but I have no doubt at all that he is genuinely really into this show.

My favorite way to listen to it is to turn the volume knob all the way down, then once every 15 to 40 seconds turn it back up just long enough to catch a few words of Keillor-rambling, so that the disconnected pieces form a sort of abstract cut-up poem.
posted by contraption at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Both of those are good (and self-aware), unlike Prairie Home Companion.

Carson Wyler would probably disagree that PHC is not self-aware, as would I.
posted by weston at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Watch an hour of Mark Russell and PHC will feel like Pulp Fiction.
posted by davebush at 2:50 PM on November 19, 2014 [16 favorites]


Going to Maine: 100% agree about Lake Wobegone. Especially in the early 80s when the small town way of life was dying instead of dead, there was a real poignancy to those stories. And when do you hear sincere stories on the radio anymore anyway? I miss that a lot. If Wits had that element as well as the goofy line reading, folk bleating, and gen x reference jokes it would be perfect for me to annoy my kids with for the rest of my life. Get on it John Moe! You need like 5 more hours of sappy tall tale telling!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:50 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


There are a lot of people doing creative podcasts out there, I'm sure they can find something they could move over to radio if they looked. More Night Vale for everybody!

I'm finding myself both stuck with a long drive every day and completely sick of NPR shows. I am so thankful for podcasts (Serial and Pop Culture Happy Hour, mostly) that keep me awake and not despairing of my slide into the impending-dotage demographic that PHC and WWDTM seem to court.

I am tired of old men chuckling.
posted by bibliowench at 2:50 PM on November 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


My first subscription to a magazine I paid for myself was The New Yorker, when I was in high school, because I found out Garrison Keillor wrote for it, and I thought I would like it, since I liked PHC. My parents' comment: what do you need to know about New York for? I told them the magazine was so I could read more Keillor, and they were satisfied.

PHC also introduced me, not just to Lutherans, but also to Episcopalians and Unitarians. The idea that liberals could be nice people who went to church was pretty mind blowing to me as a kid.

PHC helped the Wailin' Jennies reach a bigger audience. Many others, too, but they're my favorites that I wouldn't have heard of otherwise.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


This is the kind of article you'd get if you showed "O Brother Where Art Thou" to someone who's seen all seven "The Fast and the Furious" films

I suppose there's a case to be made for Coen Brothers films being an acquired taste not immediately apparent to everybody, but if you're trying to suggest that Prairie Home Companion is some kind of high art that we rubes simply cannot understand, you are a liar.

I mean, like PHC, don't like PHC, whatever, but as far as I've ever been able to tell there isn't really anything else to it that's not already apparent. It doesn't really work on multiple levels. It just is. More like The Fast And The Furious films, really, if I can go there without getting too Your Favorite Talk Radio Programme Sucks.
posted by Sara C. at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I didn't realize Whaddaya Know is still on. It's mystifying; has that guy ever said one funny thing ever?

I cannot confirm that.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:53 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


There are people in this thread who think that PHC is an ACTUAL old-timey radio show, aren't there? And not an homage/satire of the genre.

That's a pretty natural thing to happen when the genre you're satirizing/making an homage to has been dead for something like 60 years at this point. If someone today started a loving tribute to newsreels or Garrison Keillor IV starts one to drive-in movie theaters 50 years from now, I expect almost everyone's reaction would be confusion and not immediately getting the joking appreciation.

That said, it is always fascinating when the homage/satire becomes better known or more culturally relevant than its forebear. It's sort of happened with Game of Thrones, which clearly (to me) was, in its genesis, a commentary on Lord of the Rings but has now become a thing unto itself such that plenty of people come into it not only not knowing that background, but as their first experience of epic fantasy novels.
posted by Copronymus at 2:53 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


My biological mother hated Garrison Keillor and hated a Prairie Home Companion. I never met her and only found out who she was a few months ago, but I already know this about her.
posted by maxsparber at 2:53 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


"O Brother Where Art Thou" and "The Fast and the Furious" are entertaining. Prairie Home Companion, on the other hand...

This is one of those threads where I marvel at how wrong people can be. I love A Prairie Home Companion, and yet it's very difficult for me to catch these days, maybe it's changed recently although I great doubt that. The movie is a perfect little homage to it. It's not pretentious, it's not showy, sure sometimes there's music and I drift off and think about other things, but there's usually one or two things there to bring you back. It was the first place I heard El Hambo, which is now one of my very favorite pieces of music of all. And the fake commercials (yes, they're fake, in emulation of old-time radio commercials) are often brilliant, like most of the sports for Bee Bop A Rebop Rhubarb Pie.

Maybe this is saying too much about me as a person. I don't know. I don't picture myself as the kind of person who would like it, but I do. There must be more people like me out there, I'm thinking.
posted by JHarris at 2:53 PM on November 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


There are a lot of people doing creative podcasts out there, I'm sure they can find something they could move over to radio if they looked. More Night Vale for everybody!

I believe YoungAmerican has told stories about angry letters in response to (for instance) his interviews of hip hop artists. There's definitely room for new, creative types of programming but my impression is that the biggest hurdle is older, more conservative public radio listeners who want classical music, jazz, straight news and cutesy quiz shows.
posted by brundlefly at 2:54 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


My favorite thing ever was of course the Prairie Home Companion JOKE SHOW, aka the pinnacle of hilarity for Little Me, especially:

Two penguins are standing on an ice floe. One of them says to the other, "Hey, you know, it kind of looks like you're wearing a tuxedo." And the other penguin says, "Who says I'm not?"

FUCKING GOLD, JERRY


The early bird gets the worm. But the second mouse gets the cheese.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:54 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm in the camp that liked PHC as a kid but outgrew it, but I still listen to it whenever I catch it on the radio.

Because of the sound effects guy. Every time I hear PHC I wonder: if it goes under, will he be out of a job? I don't imagine there's a lot of jobs out there for him. I get so worried about him. Every.Time. And dammit, that's an art form that shouldn't be lost.

So I still faithfully listen to PHC out of some ridiculous sense that my one additional radio tuning in is all that is keeping the sound effects guy employed.
posted by barchan at 2:54 PM on November 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


I once saw PHC live and Keillor wandered through the crowd and did this long rambling song about oral sex (seriously). It was never broadcast.
posted by hadlexishere at 2:55 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


OH MY GOD I just discovered the sound effects guy is dead. He's been dead since 2011. WHA? Have there been no sounds since then? What's going on? How did I miss this?

Can I stop listening now?
posted by barchan at 2:57 PM on November 19, 2014 [17 favorites]


What?! Noooo!
posted by brundlefly at 2:58 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


There are people in this thread who think that PHC is an ACTUAL old-timey radio show, aren't there? And not an homage/satire of the genre.

Take it from a life long Minnesotan, it's an homage, we don't really do satire.
posted by mygoditsbob at 2:59 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Tom Keith passed, Fred Newman is still with us.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:59 PM on November 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


My childhood memory of Prairie Home is this:

I'm in the car after swimming lessons, with my parents, driving home. It's dark out. I'm tired from swimming, my eyes have a slight chlorine sting, and I'm sleepy. PHC is on the radio, and I nod off listening to Garrison Keillor ramble softly.

Pretty much perfect. This happened every week for a good stretch of time.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:00 PM on November 19, 2014 [21 favorites]


Once, during a family road trip, CBC cut out and so there went TVC, my mom proceeded to take out the TVC book, from wherever she had secreted it, and proceeded to read stories from the vinyl cafe aloud to us, doing her best Stuart McLean impersonation.
posted by selenized at 3:01 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh thanks, entropicamericana. I was really confused for a second. And even better - Fred Newman has an additional job.
posted by barchan at 3:03 PM on November 19, 2014


The (re)broadcast of PHC on Saturday and Sunday late mornings coincides with when I do yard work or chores in the garage. It's been an enjoyable soundtrack to pulling weeds and skinning my knuckles when a wrench twists loose. Also an alternate audio sound track while I get caught up on social media or in-house chores.

"Every episode has like five different bluegrass bands ... at the end of the show, another band comes out ... jazz standards ... sometimes gospel" - obviously the writer missed the shows with the blues-rockers, classical orchestra & musicians, polka, old and new country, ...

I learned about PHC from friends who were transplanted from the Midwest to California. They'd tune it in for the nostalgia, and, as someone else here put it, to be reminded of why they left.
posted by King Sky Prawn at 3:03 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would still like PHC if Garrison Keillor never sang. I don't mind his speaking voice and I even like some of his stories and sketches but his singing voice is just, just - words fail me. I can't turn the radio off fast enough when he starts to croonwail or whatever that awful awful sound is. And he's always singing, so I don't listen to NPR on Sundays anymore.
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:05 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


I believe YoungAmerican has told stories about angry letters in response to (for instance) his interviews of hip hop artists.

Anybody have a link of the original comment or post?
posted by jonp72 at 3:06 PM on November 19, 2014


Episodes are like four hours long.
Two hours that feel like four, it takes a special kind of skill to do that.

I make a weird association between PHC and Trader Joe's, from when I was in my early 20s in the '70s when both were fairly new and fresh (and TJ's were only around L.A.) because at the time I liked (or thought acceptable) everything on PHC except the Lake Wobegon monologues and I would time a trip to TJ's to listen on the way over and get out of the car just as Garrison says "it's been a quiet week", and come back to the car as he was saying "and all the children are above average". It was a special skill.

When I was just starting to terrorize the internet in 1999, I "pranked" the Epinions website with an article that claimed to prove that Lake Wobegon DOES exist, but Minneapolis-St. Paul doesn't. It's still there.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:07 PM on November 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


Looks like Oregon Public Broadcasting stopped carrying Whaddya Know two years ago. As I recall they used to run it after Wait, Wait, and I'd always reach over and snap the radio off before the audience could yell, with bewildering joyfulness, "Not much!!", which had a way off setting of my misanthropy.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:10 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty indifferent to PHC -- I can listen or not listen, whatever. But that Vinyl Cafe guy -- no fuckin' way, turn that OFF NOW. The only pleasure to be had from that program is the fact that the missus hates it even more than I do, which allows for a few seconds of loving matrimonial torture while I knock her hand away from the buttons.
posted by Fnarf at 3:10 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm finding myself both stuck with a long drive every day and completely sick of NPR shows. I am so thankful for podcasts (Serial and Pop Culture Happy Hour, mostly)

Pop Culture Happy Hour is an NPR show. And Serial is a This American Life spin-off so pretty much as close as you can get to being an NPR show without ever actually being on the radio. I mean, there are a lot of crappy shows on NPR, but NPR (and, in particular American Public Media which is near and dear to my heart) is responsible for some really great "new" media as well.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:11 PM on November 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


Anybody have a link of the original comment or post?

I think it was actually on his podcast, "Jordan, Jesse, Go!" I wish I could remember specifics.
posted by brundlefly at 3:12 PM on November 19, 2014


We went to the anniversary show this year because friends had tickets and it's a long story, but before going I seriously had no clue how huge and serious a following this show has. It's actually baffling.
posted by odinsdream at 3:18 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


In 2000, I spent half a year in Boulder, Colorado, as a part of my doctoral work. I saw no reason to get myself a TV, but I bought a radio, discovered NPR, and was delighted by PHC. I still listen to the News from Lake Wobegon podcast – Keillor is an excellent storyteller, and the odd remix of Scandinavian and American culture is both strange and entertaining. Compared to the radio stations I was used to (the Danish state radio and the BBC World Service), everything else on the radio was absolutely horrible.

I only moved the dial from NPR to listen to Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell, which was a hilarious comedy show.
posted by bouvin at 3:21 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


I haven't listened to PHC in years but I gotta tell you guys, I truly had not the slightest idea that there were people who hated it. It's like, I dunno, hating toast! Who hates toast?

Also, Keillor's collection of short pieces, Happy to Be Here, is really first-rate.
posted by escabeche at 3:24 PM on November 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


I have listened to an entire episode front-to-back.
posted by Flunkie at 3:25 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


In the echo chamber that MeFi can sometimes be, it's refreshing to see how split down the middle and passionate people are about this show. (I'm on team PHC!)
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 3:27 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Er, before concluding that Metafilter's an echo chamber, consider the fact that you're in a bucket.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:30 PM on November 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


I prefer Y'allbegone Pond.
posted by mullacc at 3:32 PM on November 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


My usual 57-second antidote for The Vinyl Cafe: Stuart McLean reads a ransom note (audio will auto-play).

(If that doesn't settle you, try Bee Circus from the same troupe.)
posted by maudlin at 3:32 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


OH MY GOD I just discovered the sound effects guy is dead. He's been dead since 2011. WHA? Have there been no sounds since then? What's going on? How did I miss this?

I had no idea. Man. The best part of the show, and hopefully modestly immortalized for a future generation when he guested on the Radio Lab Halloween Special that gets played every year. Tom Keith, you are missed.

.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:34 PM on November 19, 2014


The funniest thing of all would be reading this thread and eventually coming to a mod note about what is acceptable and why comments have been deleted. Nothing elicits opinion like PHC, nothing!
posted by mr. digits at 3:34 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Mei's Lost Sandal: There are people in this thread who think that PHC is an ACTUAL old-timey radio show, aren't there? And not an homage/satire of the genre.

A satirical sendup knows when the jokes over. It doesn't beat the dead horse until they wind up in the center of the earth.

That said, nobody would be caught laughing at this thing lest they risk immediate euthanasia, taxidermy, and an installation in the Smithsonian between Fonzies jacket and Archie Bunkers chair.
posted by dr_dank at 3:36 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Canadian here) I just put Prairie Home Companion on and my thoughts are - if we could only steal Keillor for Vinyl Cafe while keeping the content the same that would be so awesome. What a great voice this guy has! Is that what a Minnesotan accent sounds like? If his stories were just a touch less slow and meandering I could really get into this.
posted by kitcat at 3:37 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I like it. I can get irritated if I listen to more than one episode, but PHC is fun and sincere, AND self aware. Honestly, have none of you haters heard of dry Midwest irony? The show reeks of it.

And Anoka is still a small town. The metro has not citified it.

PHC is a fun show live, too. The controlled chaos of a live performance, the rushing back and forth of the musicians and actors and tech people, script pages flying, is exhilarating to watch.

I also appreciate PHC for presenting a liberal progressive attitude in a down home, folksy, authentic way.
posted by Malla at 3:39 PM on November 19, 2014 [13 favorites]


I unreservedly love Prairie Home Companion. I once saw Garrison Keillor in Baton Rouge performing a one man show live. He walked out onto the stage and talked and sang without notes for three hours. The stories and songs were about Louisiana and he seemed to be doing it effortlessly. It was an amazing performance. Fuck all y'all.
posted by ColdChef at 3:40 PM on November 19, 2014 [44 favorites]


When I lived in Alaska and built trails there [four fifths of the way through the last century] where there was no TV and cell phones and the internet were yet to be invented tuning in to A Prarie Home Companion coming over the AM band was a truly great thing.
posted by vapidave at 3:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


The thing I really hate about Prairie Home Companion is that, when I tell people I am more or less from Minnesota, their response is always "Hey! Prairie Home Companion, right?" And I look at them with the blankest expression I can manage, and I seethe inside.

Actually, sometimes they say "Hey, you had that wrestler for a governor, right?" Which causes me to narrow my eyes and slightly flare my nostrils, but there is no seething.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:46 PM on November 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


I am not a fan now but have fond memories of Prairie Home Companion.

Growing up, my family did not have many activities we enjoyed together. We did things together, but not necessarily enjoyed them. There was always a terrible tension bubbling beneath the surface, threatening to explode into a fight between me and one of my brothers, or my brothers with each other, or any of us with my parents, that would always degrade into giant screaming matches with my dad pulling the car over or my mom telling us to leave if we didn't like it here (when none of us had even hit our teens!) and I'd yell as loudly as possible and slam doors and my older brother would darkly retreat into himself and my little brother would cry or just try to stay at friend's homes as much as possible. We weren't a demonstrative family either. Physical affection and expressions of love were not traded freely. As an adult I am tentatively exploring giving hugs to my brothers and telling them I love them, and it is terribly awkward for all of us.


But every Sunday, A Prairie Home Companion bathed the house in a calm, warm glow (only mirrored in the similar weekly ritual of watching Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Early Edition back-to-back). My mom would start making dinner when it came on. It was almost always a pizza and salad. My dad would begin wrapping up whatever he was working on. My brothers and I would wander more freely through the kitchen. I'd even help sometimes, where normally that would not be allowed. The sharp, crisp smell of damp lettuce fresh out of the salad spinner. The crunch of carrots in my mouth. The softness of the grated mozzarella and the way it would disintigrate against the cheese grater, defying attempts to turn it into anything but mush and leaving its mild not-a-taste taste all over my fingers. And spreading sauce on the lumpy, homemade dough that had no relation to either take-out or "authentic" pizza. I loved the dough. It probably needed salt, it wasn't sweet, it was tough, but it was comforting and nourishing and thus the memories of its taste inspire deep nostalgia.

Nostalgia is A Prairie Home Companion's bread and butter: corny skits, mostly folksy music sung like a camp counselor at a campfire, the tongue-in-cheek descriptions of Lake Wobegon itself. There's no sharp satire or punching up--nobody's getting punched at all. Just hours of bluegrass and dad jokes.

The pizza would come out of the oven, the wooden salad bowl would appear on the table, and we'd sit down and listen to the show while we ate. There wasn't fighting. There wasn't tension. We didn't sit in silence--but when we talked it was as if somehow the gentle, good-natured tone of the show sunk into our bones. We laughed more, much more.

Time passed. We moved and family schedules changed. Mom and Dad would still turn it on, but it wasn't the same. It wasn't a ritual. And given how much worse the fighting got as me and my brothers hit our teenage years it's impossible to say whether that old PHC ritual could have brought peace for a few hours.

My parents still love it but I'm definitely not a fan. It's corny, it lasts forever, and the kind of humor I enjoy these days is generally cynical and biting. Listening to Keillor do the same schtick he's been doing for decades inspires a certain level of contempt. But I can't ever hate PHC, because whenever it comes on it still hits the same place Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Early Edition do. Whatever the actual quality of those shows, they are associated with moments of peace, love, and familial togetherness that don't otherwise exist in my childhood memories.
posted by schroedinger at 3:48 PM on November 19, 2014 [35 favorites]


I liked PHC as a kid, because my parents are from Fargo and we'd listen to it mostly when visiting the grandparents. The Lutheran Ministers on a Pontoon Boat was indeed a truly great sketch.

I now have a visceral aversion to the show when it comes on NPR on the weekends. I can't even tolerate the opening music. Something about how bland and banal the content is, with Keillor's barely-above-a-whisper wheeze and goddamn hissing sibilants. AAGH

Kai Ryssdal is well on his way to that visceral aversion too.

WWTDM, Says You, and On The Media are all awesome though.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:50 PM on November 19, 2014


Kai Ryssdal is well on his way to that visceral aversion too.

That's just crazy talk.
posted by jaguar at 3:53 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I hold no ill will toward those who enjoy the show; it's just not for me.

I find "The Writer's Almanac" a more easily digestible amount of Keillor, but even then I don't go out of my way to listen to it.

One of my previous NPR affiliates used to put PHC on just after Whad'Ya Know and I did listen to that for a while. Can't say much in defense of Feldman re: funniness, but I did think he was good at working the crowd.

I did enjoy listening to Says You! when I was an undergraduate English major.
posted by audi alteram partem at 3:53 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Says You is terrible and it makes me hate myself for listening to it. It is literally the whitest, WASPiest radio program ever and that's saying something about a white, WASPy medium.

Also, I'm not totally convinced those are all real words.
posted by GuyZero at 3:54 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hey, schroedinger, thanks for that.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:56 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


For some reason I have always confused Garrison Keillor with Kelsey Grammer .

Are you perhaps a fan of the late (but returning!) Best Show?

...Then, in the last six months, Scharpling began dedicating large portions of the show to an audio collage he creates in the moment, on the air. For instance, the cello from Lou Reed’s “Street Hassle” gets looped while Scharpling places audio clips of Kelsey Grammar falling off a stage, Garrison Keillor wistfully remembering making out with a girl in a car, and his producer Mike Lisk creepily asking, “Do you have puppy dogs?”...
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:00 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't find Garrison Keilor funny but I do find him relaxing and soporific radio shows are actually my favorite kind. And he actually has a lot of good musicians on.
posted by atoxyl at 4:02 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


What I don't understand is all the hate for Wait, Wait. The guest panelists are usually quite good and it's a fun way to spend an hour.

The only problem with Says You is that they charge for their back episodes and I'm not certain how to put them on my podcast app.
posted by Carillon at 4:04 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm lukewarm on PHC now, but I'll defend the Lake Wobegon bits as the best part of the show.

There's one that's never left me - something about a resident of Lake Wobegon who got into a fight with his wife on Christmas Eve and went to a bar. Later, drunkenly wandering home, he relieves himself on the town Christmas tree, has an epiphany about what a terrible thing he's doing, and ends up weeping and carrying the yellow snow out of the town square one handful at a time as the clock strikes midnight and brings in Christmas.

I still remember the gravitas in Keillor's voice at the crux of the story, when the man realizes he's "pissing on Christmas" - a line that sounds silly, but wow, I can still hear the exact way Keillor spat out that phrase, and it gives me chills.

(Then again, I'm finding nothing on Google about this, so maybe I imagined it after listening to one to many hours of Prairie Home Companion?)
posted by kingoftonga86 at 4:04 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


I can't stand PHC, but love The Writer's Almanac, don't know what that says about me. PHC is pretty clever, I think, it's just that it's repetitive as hell. If I get in the car during the weekend and hear one of the bands playing, like as not I'll enjoy it, but when Keillor combs back on and starts with the formula-driven stuff that makes up the rest of the show.. ugh.

I mean, it beats the hell out of the smarmy WWDTM and Whaddya Know, not to mention the wackjob alternative medicine show they've been playing the last couple of years.
posted by skewed at 4:05 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have absolute enjoyed PHC (without ever hearing an episode all the way through). That said (and that said), this article was mercilessly correct and hilarious.
posted by Edgewise at 4:07 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


No one has mentioned the fact that Garrison Keillor books tons of amazing bluegrass acts and then insists on signing over the top of all them. What an asshole. Let your guests show off their talents FFS.
posted by agentofselection at 4:09 PM on November 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


Yeah this does remind me that I really cannot stand it when he sings.
posted by atoxyl at 4:10 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know that there is a Portlandia sketch about PHC groupies/superfans. It involved tailgating, too. I'm not sure if it can be found online. I'm sure that people would have opinions about it.
posted by mean square error at 4:17 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


The two that really get me are two that I found in Chicago and have to jab the button to change. One is Snap Judgement. I'm not a snapper, I'm just trying to get coffee on Saturday. I'm sure Glen Washington is a nice guy but I can't stand his narration and the way he gets soo involved and agitated about these stories.

The second is Wordjazz, if someone could explain to me the appeal of this I'd be super grateful. I know it's late but why is this on the radio? Reruns would be better please!
posted by Carillon at 4:19 PM on November 19, 2014


The problem with A Prairie Home Companion is that it's two hours long, which is an eternity on the radio. I mean, it's awful programming from start to finish, devoid of redeeming qualities, but if it were just an hour it would be done with. The sin of A Prairie Home Companion is that it lingers like a bad odor. Once you hear it, there are two hours of off-key Garrison Keillor singing and treacly awful skits before NPR finally relents and something worthwhile comes on.
posted by graymouser at 4:20 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have been a fan of APHC (please get your initials correct, folks), of Wait Wait, of Says You, of Car Talk, of This American Life, and even of Wha'dya Know. My enthusiasm for any and all of these has waxed and waned since the '90s; these days I do not listen to any radio of any kind, not just NPR. All of these shows are equal parts entertaining and unbearable, and it's just a question of where you are in your own space whether the entertaining parts connect with you or the annoying parts.
posted by briank at 4:20 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I grew up in a tiny town and it was a lot more like Night Vale than Lake Wobegone.

I would listen to the musical guests if it weren't for that weird smug purring of Keillor.
posted by winna at 4:25 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm actually shocked to find people have really negative reactions to the show. I've never seen this expressed before. It's not a show I go looking for as appointment radio, but as background noise for a drive to the grocery or beer store or working on Sunday dinner it's always seemed like a pleasant and positive background program. Well, I make it a point to accept that taste is relative, but this is one that in the back of my head just weirds me out because it is so off from my own tastes. Like people who like tomatoes in salad or on hoagies. Or people who like gin.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:25 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


APHC is corny, sweet, humorous without being funny, comforting while being annoying, whatever, whatever, but it is it's own thing, and it does itself incredibly well and remarkably consistently. It's homage, knows it, and turns that into individual merit.
Whereas something like Wait, Wait . . . sheesh, it believes it is unique, unheralded, funny, clever, whatever, and it hugely sucks based on its failure to be what it thinks it is !
Done now . . .
posted by pt68 at 4:30 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wordjazz? The only thing I know by that name is really old - Ken Nordine in the 1950s-60s, mostly in small chunks on albums, but it inspired others to do something similar in a longer form on radio (most notably Joe Frank, amirite?). Nordine's voice made him a popular commercial announcer but he wanted to do all the creative himself, resulting in the iconic "psychedelic" Levi's commercials. ("How are things in YOUR town?")

If somebody else is doing something that claims to be "Wordjazz" now (Nordine's in his 90s and very retired), I want them taken out and flogged by a team of vicious copyright lawyers.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:34 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nostalgia is A Prairie Home Companion's bread and butter

Exactly. Which is pretty much why it has a special place in my own personal nostalgia. Like schroedinger, it was something of a family ritual in my house as well. Mom and Dad loved it - I can still hear Dad's amused, appreciative chuckle as something Garrison Keillor said surprised and delighted him. I honestly can't remember now whether it was Saturday or Sunday evenings that it broadcast, but it had that sense of leisure and restfulness that weekdays didn't leave time for. The gentle rise and fall of Keillor's voice, the twang of banjos, the musical acts that often straddled the uneasy borderland between folk and country but would sometimes take your breath away with the sheer mastery of the fiddle. It has a dusky security in my memory, a comfort that reminds me of Laura Ingalls Wilder listening to Pa play the fiddle in their frontier cabin so many years ago, long before radio or Lake Wobegon or me, but somehow PHC taps into that same kind of timeless spirit for me.

I'm pretty sure that if I had continued to listen to it over the years, it wouldn't have the same special place. And part of me agrees that it could perhaps make way for newer talents. But part of why I love Cecil so much is because his sonorous greetings and goodnights to Night Vale remind me of Keillor, tapping into the same traditions while having their own bizarre take. So if it kicks on a while, well, I can't help but think that's okay too.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:37 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


I most often heard it driving home from martial arts class on Saturday afternoon, around 6pm or so. Depending on the time of year, the sun might be going down and the air might be cooling off. I'd have the window open to dry off the workout sweat, and I'd be thinking about where I'm going to get dinner. I didn't necessarily like the show but I found it to match my post-workout mood and a good way to mark the last scheduled obligation I have for the week.

Now I live in a different city with a different NPR schedule and with different life circumstances, and I usually hear it in the background on the weekend mornings when I'm busy with something else. I still don't really like PHC but I miss listening to it under the circumstances that I used to. I suppose it's pretty natural to feel nostalgic about listening to a show about nostalgia.
posted by zompus at 4:40 PM on November 19, 2014




Fear of mediocrity is such a big theme in Keillor's work that I was surprised to see PHC accused of not being self aware.

I wish Keillor didn't sing, but I don't imagine for a second that he doesn't know how he sounds. He sings because he wants to, not because he imagines he is a good singer. Likewise, he knows his show is and always has been seen as hokey to many. Why should he care? He writes and reads good short stories, showcases talented musical guests, and has an occasional funny sketch.
posted by Area Man at 4:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


I dislike PHC; I am unamused by the quiz shows; but I despise that one asshole with the news-talk program. Tom Ashbrook. On Point. He just sounds so stupid. I can't take it.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:50 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


After the songs, I guess there’s like some sketches? One is usually a noir parody about a grizzled private eye. There might be one of these in every show?
Ahahaha, this is the truest thing.

I find "The Writer's Almanac" a more easily digestible amount of Keillor, but even then I don't go out of my way to listen to it.

The Writer's Almanac might be tolerable if it were on at a reasonable (i.e., evening) hour, but that fact that --at least in DC-- it's on at about 6:30 in the morning means that listening to it feels like taking an extra-strength sedative right after getting out of bed, which is a shitty and bewildering way to start your day. NO ONE TALKS THAT SLOW IN REAL LIFE, GARRISON.
posted by psoas at 4:50 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Whadya Know? is awesome. I also like PHC. I don't get you people.

Lived 30 years in the Upper Midwest, too.
posted by persona au gratin at 4:50 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't really like or dislike PHC, I just find it such an odd entity. As it was pointed out above, PHC is part homage, part parody of a hokey old-timey radio show, but as it's also been pointed out, PHC itself is so old it is an old-timey radio show. It may have been perfectly ironic back in the 70s, but those baby boomers are all grey now, like the show. It's like the irony they were out ahead of caught up to them.

When I saw the Robert Altman film, it kind of brought to life what PHC really is: this strange mishmash of country/bluegrass/gospel/folk/not-sure-the-genre singers who the audience all seem to know and love. And radio personalities and actors you've never heard of but the audience, again, all seem to know.

And this is being broadcast on radio? What station? Back even til the 80s and 90s radio was big, but nowadays I can't see a local FM or AM station being able to fund a show like PHC. Local ads? And not the fake ads but real ads. The movie dealt with these kinds of behind the scenes aspects but that just made me all the more confused.
posted by zardoz at 4:53 PM on November 19, 2014


Oh man, I love PHC for what it is: easygoing weekend storytelling radio. I've lived in the US for almost 6 years now and I associate it with weekend mornings of not-much-going-on. Sure, the jokes aren't great and it's not particularly intellectual or provocative, but I'm good with that. That's what the weekdays are for.
posted by saturnine at 4:59 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am Mexican. I had never experienced significant cultural shock, but then I went to see the PHC show live with my MN-born mother-in-law. Most things went right over my head. It was really quite enlightening.
posted by cobain_angel at 4:59 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


zardoz, check your local public radio affiliate. I bet they're running it, likely on the weekends.
posted by Carillon at 5:00 PM on November 19, 2014


I once contracted lyme disease while attending an APHC show. It was not a pleasant experience.
posted by procrastination at 5:12 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I like APHC, but I'm always a bit annoyed at it and This American Life and Car Talk for not having a newsbreak at the top of the hour.
posted by Small Dollar at 5:13 PM on November 19, 2014


> The Writer's Almanac might be tolerable if it were on at a reasonable (i.e., evening) hour, but that fact that --at least in DC-- it's on at about 6:30 in the morning

It's on in the afternoon here, and that's why I hate the Writer's Almanac. I used to have this weekly thing that always ended badly and I'd be upset and get in my car and the radio would be on and the music for the Writer's Almanack would come in, and I associate the music with feeling angry and sad.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:21 PM on November 19, 2014




I love the Writer's Almanac except for Keillor's voice. He has Opinions About Poetry, most of which are drivel, but a surprising number of the poems are interesting, and the occasional one (about the same percentage as any poetry anthology) is excellent. This morning, I enjoyed Adirondack Moosehead.

Can't listen to PHC any more, though. It was a phase for me, like Firesign Theater.
posted by Peach at 5:35 PM on November 19, 2014


PHC has only ever worked when it was dark and you were driving on a fairly deserted stretch of boring road. It would sort of fill the car and fit with the drone of boring nightime driving. But now they play it during the middle of the day when it's too damn bright out and anyway and I'm probably driving on city streets or stop and go traffic on the bridge and it's goddamn maddening to listen to.

And believe it not, there actually was a time when Garrison Keillor wasn't far too old to have a show that tries to be topically relevant. He's a good two decades past the point where he can make any pop culture reference and not sound, well, too damn old. It's kind of embarrassing really. I'm not saying he was ever cutting edge or anything, but it least it wasn't one step removed from listening to your aging relatives trying to talk about the kids these days.
posted by aspo at 5:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am Korean currently residing in the U.S. and I've listened to my fair share of NPR programming. And I just don't get APHC. It's a transmission from an alien planet - I have no idea how to process it, whether it's funny, or a parody, or what. It's mystifying, but not entertaining, either. The thought bubble above my head says "DOES NOT COMPUTE." So I have to turn off the radio or listen to something else. I don't get Whadya Know?, either.

I do know I dislike hearing Garrison Keillor singing over his guests.
posted by needled at 5:43 PM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


I wish Keillor didn't sing, but I don't imagine for a second that he doesn't know how he sounds. He sings because he wants to, not because he imagines he is a good singer.

To me that's part of the charm. He's passable enough and most importantly loves what he's singing, even if he's not The Best Singer Ever. Like I said, it's like he's singing like he's sitting around a campfire with you and just happened to have this guitar.
posted by schroedinger at 5:48 PM on November 19, 2014


I'd thought PHC was the whitest show I'd ever heard on radio, but that Vinyl Cafe thing makes it sound like Rev. Ike.
posted by the sobsister at 5:53 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I really really dislike the show. Ok. I hate it. I hear his voice and rush to turn the station. It is visceral. *shivers*. He is an insufferable ass with a dried up schtick.

But ya know what? Who cares what I think? A lot of people love him and that is what it is.

All I know is the next time I need to induce vomiting I will imagine gk's voice.
posted by futz at 6:03 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I grew up listening to PHC. In fact we had tapes of all the Lake Wobegone stories that we'd listen to in the car on long trips. I find them incredibly comforting, and I can still tell you almost word-for-word what happens in most of those stories (the Thanksgiving when everybody gets sick, the boat disaster, the school stories). I like Garrison's voice, I find the folksy music charming, I like the monologues and the skits. It's the sound of my childhood, but Garrison also really nails a pathos-filled type of humor that lampoons the human condition rather than any specific person or people, and that appeals to me. I've always been absurdly soft-hearted and I find cynicism upsetting more often than I'd like to admit.

But the older I get, the harder it is to ignore the insular nature of the show. It's all about "How Life Is", but only if you're a white middle-class Lutheran from the mid-west... I found it relatable enough when I was younger, being white middle-class atheist from the north-east, and I guess I find it relatable to some extent now, but I do often find myself embarrassed on behalf the show when they imply that life is some certain way which only applies to a narrow target audience. I think that Garrison Keillor himself is not unaware of his privilege (I could be wrong about this, but this is my strong suspicion from reading novels and articles and books he's written), but the show lacks self-awareness that its homey comforting nature is only homey and comforting for a small slice of the population, and pretty alien to a lot of people.
posted by Cygnet at 6:05 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I suspect PHC is the closest example to fascist propaganda you can find today. The mood, undertones, willful subjugation to pain as the cost of homage to fake old timey authority and Tradition would all be approved by Mussolini's aesthetics and propaganda department. PHC may look like a benign brown shirt but just you wait until a senile GK starts singing about how the Jews killed Christ at lake Woebegone... Like the show, I'm kinda serious? Har har frt. Horse foot sound effect and you feel comforted despite the message or turn the station due to the noise.
posted by astrobiophysican at 6:12 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


That's certainly an opinion.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 6:13 PM on November 19, 2014 [20 favorites]


It is at that.
posted by brundlefly at 6:14 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I rarely listen to PHC anymore, but guys, if you grew up in rural Michigan maybe you'd understand my affection for it. I'm stuck in the middle of a birch forest with my radio on, and suddenly I'm hearing Gilbert and Sullivan. An opera singer. A bluegrass band. A gospel quartet. And then a monologue full of compassion and humor (go back and listen to tapes of the old monologues- they were fantastic). It was a great show back then.
posted by acrasis at 6:19 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Grew up listening to PHC, hate it, in particular Garrison's smug, entitled voice, monumentally secure in the knowledge that everyone really would like to devote their afternoon to listening to him talk).

+2 to sound effects and the occasionally brilliant musical talent. Doesn't overcome Garrison's -50,000 massive, blackhole-like effect.
posted by arnicae at 6:21 PM on November 19, 2014


So... anybody else like Bob & Ray, or the stories of Robert Peck? Patrick McManus? Homer Price? Just me, then?
posted by Going To Maine at 6:21 PM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


When a person is writing a thing for public consumption and they do this Millennial thing, with the gratuitous question marks?

You forgot 'drop question marks on actual questions' and 'use all caps for SUPER EMPHASIS'. It was funny when Mary HK Choi was doing it 5 years ago but I have grown so tired of the internet-slash-Juno voice, especially now that people are starting to talk like this in real life.
Still, this was an entertaining essay.
posted by Flashman at 6:22 PM on November 19, 2014


Here's the Portlandia bit. And for those whose stations play The Writer's Almanac too early, it's available in podcast form. As is the news from Lake Wobegon. You can also listen to entire shows at their site, should you want to do that.
posted by brentajones at 6:23 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Was Homer Price the kid with the donut machine? Yes, I like him. He never promised me that I'd get to hear musicians that I loved and then ruined everything by singing over them in a terrible, terrible, appalling voice. I am embarrassed on behalf of Garrison Keillor, because he doesn't have the humility to shut the fuck up when sharing a stage with musicians who are more talented than him.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:26 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I didn't realize Whaddaya Know is still on. It's mystifying; has that guy ever said one funny thing ever?

NOT MUCH! You?
posted by notyou at 6:26 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


I too am in the "loved it as a younger person, don't listen to it much now" crowd, but I did work my way through Keillor's recent books a couple of years ago. He's a really good writer and storyteller, and a lot more biting and effective than his radio show host persona would lead you to believe.
posted by werkzeuger at 6:30 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


He never promised me that I'd get to hear musicians that I loved and then ruined everything by singing over them in a terrible, terrible, appalling voice.

No, I think the music was probably the strongest thing to drive me away from PHC, even before Keillor started singing, but the Americana aspect of the show has always appealed.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:31 PM on November 19, 2014


I suspect PHC is the closest example to fascist propaganda you can find today. The mood, undertones, willful subjugation to pain as the cost of homage to fake old timey authority and Tradition would all be approved by Mussolini's aesthetics and propaganda department. PHC may look like a benign brown shirt but just you wait until a senile GK starts singing about how the Jews killed Christ at lake Woebegone... Like the show, I'm kinda serious? Har har frt. Horse foot sound effect and you feel comforted despite the message or turn the station due to the noise.

Isn't it cool how your tastes in radio programs actually make you a better person than me?

(I do remember sketch with Al Franken about what it would be like to be the Jewish family in Lake Woebegone. I haven't thought about it for years and can't remember much, but it popped into my mind while reading your comment.)
posted by Area Man at 6:33 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Grew up listening to PHC, hate it, in particular Garrison's smug, entitled voice

Okay, that's the thing. If someone can't stand the sound of his voice, viscerally, I guess I can understand that, since you can't control it. But I don't get how anyone can hate him for who he is. He's just a guy, and he's always seemed to know he has a particularly low grade of celebrity, and seems comfortable with it. What is there that's smug about Garrison Keillor?
posted by JHarris at 6:34 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


From the article: "I saw Garrison on PBS in conversation with a poet, calling hip-hop poetry slams garbage"

Another bullseye! Love me that Garrison fella!
posted by Vibrissae at 6:35 PM on November 19, 2014


I suspect PHC is the closest example to fascist propaganda you can find today. The mood, undertones, willful subjugation to pain as the cost of homage to fake old timey authority and Tradition would all be approved by Mussolini's aesthetics and propaganda department.

Wow, way to nearly Godwin the thread. You are getting something out of the show that I really think isn't there. It's always seemed to undercut itself at most opportunities.
posted by JHarris at 6:38 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]




well there is this
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:39 PM on November 19, 2014


I like his voice and even his slow talk -- but I cringe at the sound of him breathing through his smooshy old man nostrils. And also when he sings. He's gotten better, but I can't help but feel a little embarrassed for him.

Mr Keillor, if you're reading: stop singing (or at least sing a little less), and work on building an ensemble that will outlive you.
posted by notyou at 6:40 PM on November 19, 2014


Not a big fan of PHC in general, but I really like the Guy Noir sketches for some reason.
posted by spaltavian at 6:44 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Both of those are good (and self-aware), unlike Prairie Home Companion.

Haha no you have not really listened to it much then. It is entirely self-aware. Whether the audience always knows that is debateable, but Keillor knows exactly what he's doing. I actually skip the bands (not a folk fan) and sometimes the skits, but I enjoy the fake ad jingles, and the inevitable sound-effects-laden bit (not as good since the original guy died). Mostly I love the Woebegone stories. They are darkly humorous and sometimes a bit savage towards the fictional townspeople, and occasionally towards a thinly-disguised version of young Keillor himself, forever embarassed of his hokey uptight parents, forever uncool and unable to rise above his hometown.

It is white, yes, but mostly it is just a visit to a particular world created by a particular person. It can be a place you find interesting (I knew no Lutherans or midwestern types till I went to college, not many Norwegians made it to my part of Texas) or a place you don't.

I saw the live show many years ago; it was much sharper than the radio version, and I enjoyed myself immensely and nerdishly, though I was younger than most of the attendees.

There's no need for hate, even if you hate it. Keillor is aging, and it will die with him. It's no doubt gone on too long, like lots of things, but NPR is not in such rich financial pastures that they can afford to shut down a reliable cash cow. If you like other stuff they do, maybe it's not the best idea to hate on the stuff that pays for what you like.
posted by emjaybee at 6:47 PM on November 19, 2014 [17 favorites]


The show is so slow-paced that I can't stand it, but I love Keillor as an author. Lake Wobegon Days, the short stories, the "Talk of the Town" pieces - he is wonderful to read. Just don't make me listen to his voice.
posted by Daily Alice at 6:49 PM on November 19, 2014


"Why are these mice shooting at us?"

-'Walter Bishop'
posted by clavdivs at 6:51 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I like Keillor's meandering, phlegmy voice. It fits PHC really, really well. However, I never really got into PHC; the show itself is too meandering for me.
posted by spinifex23 at 6:55 PM on November 19, 2014


the show lacks self-awareness that its homey comforting nature is only homey and comforting for a small slice of the population, and pretty alien to a lot of people.

This doesn't make much sense to me - the show tells you over and over that it's about a particular kind of people living in in a tiny corner of the country. The whole thing but the Lake Wobegon stuff in particular is a transmission from another place and often another time. Yes, that packaging is played for irony - because Middle Americans are *conventionally* treated as "default" people - but really a major premise of the show is that they are in fact an exotic and interesting culture and it presents them as such, which I think is part of the appeal for a lot of fans who are not from anywhere resembling the upper midwest.
posted by atoxyl at 6:55 PM on November 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


Keillor's barely-above-a-whisper wheeze and goddamn hissing sibilants.

It's kind of amusing to turn the radio down far enough that the whistley sibilants are all that you hear. It's like weird bird sounds.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:00 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Pop Culture Happy Hour is an NPR show. And Serial is a This American Life spin-off so pretty much as close as you can get to being an NPR show without ever actually being on the radio. I mean, there are a lot of crappy shows on NPR, but NPR (and, in particular American Public Media which is near and dear to my heart) is responsible for some really great "new" media as well.

You are right. Thanks for the clarification. I was going to make some observation in my last comment about old radio NPR vs. new internet NPR/APM, but I forgot to do that.
posted by bibliowench at 7:02 PM on November 19, 2014


I really don't understand why there's so much hate for aPHC. I can understand why someone might not like it, but the people talking about visceral reactions just mystify me. Is there a gene for aPHC hate, like there is for cilantro? That's the best explanation I can come up with.
posted by yeolcoatl at 7:02 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


I dislike PHC, but I rarely catch it. However, I ALWAYS seem to catch WireTap, which I am alternately amused / befuddled by.
posted by kellygrape at 7:13 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can understand why someone might not like it, but the people talking about visceral reactions just mystify me.

When I hear even a few moments of Keillor's voice, it's like my entire field of vision goes blinding white and I must kill someone. Him, myself, my passengers, whoever. I am fully amenable to believing that some evil overlord inserted programming into my brain that gets triggered by Garrison Keillor, because that's certainly what it feels like. To me, his voice is seriously three big steps more annoying than nails on a chalkboard.

And it's not based on any traumatic PHC experiences. I never listened to it growing up, I think there has been only one occasion when I've had to listen to more than five minutes of it, and that particular evening was a very pleasant visit with a then-boyfriend's wonderful family friends at their lovely cottage in the New Hampshire woods.

But Garrison Keillor's voice still makes me anxious and homicidal. There are just some variations on "smug" that bring out all of my rage against every slightly pompous white guy who has ever invalidated my own life experiences, and his voice seems to hit all of them.
posted by jaguar at 7:15 PM on November 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


And I like "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me" but I'm very aware that it's old-white-people humor, most of the time. It's comforting in that it reminds me of watching late 80s stand-up comedy as a kid, probably because of Paula Poundstone.
posted by jaguar at 7:18 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Agreed, Garrison Keillor is like weapons grade smugness. We usually bomb countries to prevent that level of smugness.
posted by Ferreous at 7:20 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've listened to PHC since I was a kid...OK, yes, growing up in Minnesota. And for years the sounds of PHC has always been pleasant and relaxing to me.

But lately Keillor has been getting increasingly...weird and I don't hear Pat Donohue anymore, and I am finding that my interest in the show has waned sharply. Come to think of it, I haven't listened all autumn, and my podcast of the News From Lake Wobegon has gone entirely ignored. Sure am listening to my Pat Donohue CDs, though…
posted by wenestvedt at 7:23 PM on November 19, 2014


> but the people talking about visceral reactions just mystify me. Is there a gene for aPHC hate, like there is for cilantro?

I think it's more like when you can't stand hearing someone's raspy breathing and it makes you tense up and want to leave the room.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 7:25 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Now that we're 250+ comments in, let me go on the record:
I like PHC.
I like it when Garrison sings. There's a thing he does where he's just describing a season or a setting, and he sings it to this really saccharine, cloying, repetitive melody -- and I love it. I know I should hate it. But it's just great.
There's a thing that happens occasionally when he'll get an opera singer to sing an aria with funny lyrics substituted for the original book. It's so corny and stupid, but gives me so much joy.
I hope that he keeps it up for 50 more years. Stem cells will be involved somehow.

And for bad vibes:
John Moe is the second worst. Kai Ryssdahl is the worst. Everyone else who works for PRI (not on PHC) is the third worst.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:26 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Nostalgia is A Prairie Home Companion's bread and butter

I think this gets at why I've always been vaguely meh about the show, actually. Because it's like five levels deep on something I'm just straight up not nostalgic for. I think that if I were from a small town in the upper Midwest, had strongly Scandinavian heritage*, and old enough to remember the types of radio shows it's riffing on, I would probably be OK with it. But it's incomprehensible to me probably on the level that another radio show discussing hip hop is to the kinds of people who are squarely in the APHC demographic.

Nostalgia only works on people who are nostalgic for the thing you're waxing nostalgic about.

*Weirdly, I do have Scandinavian ancestry, but that side of the family are all from Mississippi and thus I have only the vaguest notion about what lutefisk even is.
posted by Sara C. at 7:30 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


So is this the place where I admit to totally loving APHC? I listen almost every week, I've been on a cruise, I went to the 40th anniversary show in July, and I'm going on another cruise in March. The music is great, the jingles are hilarious, and the radio skits are perfect. Yay for Prairie Home!
posted by Arbac at 7:34 PM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]



I'm a black woman under 40 who loves PHC. Wait a minute, do I even exist?

Based on his voice alone, I was a bit in love with Keillor as a young teen, so much so that I checked out one of his Lake Wobegon books from the library. That's when tragedy stuck: I saw the author's photo.

In still skittish about seeing the faces of my beloved radio personalities. I won't be able to handle it if Soterios Johnson is unattractive.
posted by lesli212 at 7:35 PM on November 19, 2014 [18 favorites]


Ooooh... I just peeked and he brings sophisticated and sassy together like chile and lime.
posted by mr. digits at 7:39 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Back in Townsville, I remember enjoying reading Lake Wobegon Days as a youngster - mum and dad were mad for it, plus a couple of his other books - before knowing it was a radio show, and then we started getting tapes of the shows from some family friend or person from church who recorded it from somewhere, and I dimly recall listening to like ten minutes of one of them before I became so desperately unhappy that I asked dad if it would be okay if I went and did my homework so that I didn't have to be there near the radio any more, and he nodded really slowly, something profound on his face that I didn't recognise at the time, but later realised was anguish. I went back out like an hour later to get a glass of water or whatever and this fucking tape was still going, and mum and dad were there really ashen-faced and I don't think I'd heard either of them laugh once.

I then noticed them going through a pile of tapes on the kitchen counter - this awful voice droning on and on in the background - and they were all Keillor tapes, like a dozen of them. And whoever was giving them to us, it seemed like they kept giving us more and more of them, and this is back in like the early nineties and there were already hundreds of these interminable tapes of Prairie Home Companion (with inked-in episode labels like '#786 Part A' and '1000th Anniversary Special', probably) that some mentalist had recorded from somewhere and kept giving to us. Mum and dad were just too polite to say no, I guess, because I don't believe they ever listened to any of them, or if they did they did it when I wasn't around. Perhaps they had it on in the background while they were elsewhere in the house, using it as white noise, but it wasn't white noise, it was grey noise, like winter and ash, sucking the life out of everything.

Who was this mysterious maniac with hundreds of Keillor tapes? Why did they keep giving them to us? Why did mum and dad keep accepting them? Is that when they started to get old, like properly old? Did seven thousand unlistened-to hours of Prairie Home Companion, just by virtue of their circulation through our household in a physical form, cause geriatricism in my father and make my mother start growing shorter and eating blander foods? I can only assume so.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


I haven't listened to PHC in years, but I did enjoy it for a time. Keillor told one Lake Wobegon story about a guy who was clearing snow off his roof, then lay back on it to rest, fell asleep, and woke up to find that the sun had gone down and that he was frozen to the roof. I grew up in a similar climate a few states over, and I could totally imagine this happening and enjoy the sheer terror and humor in the situation. So for me, PHC has its moments.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:43 PM on November 19, 2014


I FINALLY REMEMBERED TO GOOGLE OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON and she is everything I hoped for and more.

Seriously after every report she files on Ebola I wonder "Who is this magical Ophebia Questarto person What does she look like Would she go to brunch with me if she happened to be in LA I need to know everything about her", and then I get to work and have coffee and forget she ever existed. This thread finally inspired me to find out.

I would 100% support four hours of Ofeibea Quist-Arcton every weekend afternoon in lieu of A Prairie Home Companion. Even if she can't sing.
posted by Sara C. at 7:45 PM on November 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


He sings because he wants to, not because he imagines he is a good singer.

I kinda have to disagree with you there, because I've seen him in concert as part of a gospel quartet where singing was the main point of the show. I went because it was what my mom wanted to do for her birthday or something, and the amazing thing is that by the end of the show I had been revolted by, appreciative of, and sorry for Garrison Keillor.

Revolted by, because of the singing (Keillor took the bass part in the quartet); although they did do a Credence cover (Long as I Can See the Light, and the Credence version could very well be a cover or their take on a traditional song because that's what Credence did) which was kind of cool.

Appreciative of, because this was in '97 or '98 when the whole Clinton impeachment thing was going on, and Keillor started talking about the totally useless collection of people at the White House. Given that this was a gospel concert in then fairly conservative San Diego, that line got a huge laugh and applause because everyone thought he was talking about the Clintons. When it turned out that, no, he was actually talking about the media standing outside the White House and the disappointment registered across most of the audience, my heart grew three sizes.

Sorry for, because even though it was a concert with his little gospel band, he did a couple Lake Wobegone story breaks, and during the last one, even though the show was going to go on afterwards, there were people who had gathered up all their stuff and were actually standing in the aisles getting ready to leave as soon as he finished his story. You don't need to be that much of a jerk to a guy you paid to come see; be polite and stick around for the last two songs, or at least sit down until he finishes his story.
posted by LionIndex at 7:48 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


In still skittish about seeing the faces of my beloved radio personalities.

Personally, I find it super weird just to see their names spelled out. (It's "Kai Ryssdahl," apparently, instead of the completely phonetic "Ky Rizzdoll" that exists only in my ear.) Photos are genuinely a step too far.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:50 PM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


You people are dead inside. PHC is the kitten purring on my lap in a rare moment of peace and quiet after a busy week.

The Vinyl Cafe on the other hand. I'm actually worried that I may have slipped into a fugue state and murdered someone in the past because I wasnt able to turn off the radio fast enough.

It makes no logical sense that I would love one and hate the other so much, but feelings and opinions are weird like that.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:54 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have to say that, no matter the disappointment I experience from a given entertainment/cultural program on NPR (whether due to aesthetic, comedic or cultural mismatches), it's infinitesimal in comparison to my discontent with the failings of NPR news/commentary (Cokie Roberts, I'm looking at you).
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:58 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wait there are people alive today who don't like Snap Judgement? I'm baffled. If I had to guess I would have guessed that 100% of humans, including KKK grand wizards and Charles Manson, loved Snap Judgement. It's the perfect combination of TAL storytelling Radiolab editing techniques and Non-pretentious Non-white ppl. What's not to like?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:58 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Everyone else who works for PRI (not on PHC) is the third worst.

Sorry, I mean APM, not PRI. When I listen to NPR on MPR, I get confused.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:58 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Daily Alice: "The show is so slow-paced that I can't stand it, but I love Keillor as an author. Lake Wobegon Days, the short stories, the "Talk of the Town" pieces - he is wonderful to read. Just don't make me listen to his voice."

Exactly. Keillor gives me an almost visceral reaction, and I find APHC basically unlistenable. But Lake Wobegon Days is almost perfect. I still find some of the stories there coming to mind from time to time.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:01 PM on November 19, 2014


Re: NPR, Keillor, Minnesota, and Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me:

SAGAL: You guys, originally all of you in the band are from Minnesota. But you formed your band in Brooklyn.

[Craig] FINN [of The Hold Steady]: Yeah. Well, most of us had lived in Minneapolis, and two of us are actually from Minneapolis. But when we - I ended up here and wanted to form a band, and I kind of - the quickest way to figure out who was going to be good were people I'd already seen play. And a lot of those were transplanted Midwesterners.

SAGAL: Really? So it wasn't like you were all hanging out in a particular bar in Brooklyn where Minnesota people go to eat cheese curds and drink?

FINN: Yeah, no, it was a Vikings party.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: A Vikings party, we figured it out. But you...

ADAM FELBER: Oh, I've been to that place. That's on Fifth Avenue.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: But your songs are so often about Minneapolis, which I loved. I mean, is there such a thing as like, a Minnesota vibe? Is there a Minnesota-nice rock and roll?

FINN: Well, I mean, there's certainly a lot of great musical history out of Minneapolis, with Prince and the Replacements and Bob Dylan and Husker Du. But more than that, I think when I write lyrics, I'm just still not comfortable writing as a New Yorker. I feel like Lou Reed does that very well, and I just feel like a poser trying to write a song about New York.

SAGAL: So you're living in New York, and you're writing these songs, and your songs are known for their kind of narrative arc. You have stories, you have characters who recur. You're telling these stories about Minnesotans. You realize that you've become a kind of younger, hipper Garrison Keillor, don't you?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

FINN: I'm just glad I'm hipper.

SAGAL: Yeah.

FELBER: Although if you've ever seen Garrison stage dive, it's something.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:09 PM on November 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


That's when tragedy stuck: I saw the author's photo.

I remember a similar moment of confusion when I first saw GK's photo.

Love the show. Love love love.
posted by bunderful at 8:11 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that thing above about Peter Sagal asking "Is there a Minnesota-nice rock and roll?" I mean, I know that he's just riffing and not really thinking things through, but really?

I liked PHC more before I realized that they not only had been doing a lot of the same over and over but would keep on doing the same, but all of the knee-jerk-hipster whitey-white white comments are a bit tiresome. Xeni Jardin over at Boing Boing called it "insufferably white." You probably know where I'm going with this, but just as a reminder, here are Xeni and her co-bloggers. Compulsively pointing out another operation's Caucasianicity does not give you street cred.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:19 PM on November 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


I would 100% support four hours of Ofeibea Quist-Arcton every weekend afternoon in lieu of A Prairie Home Companion. Even if she can't sing.

I am not in a relationship and do not want children, but when I was driving to work the other morning and Quist-Arcton was giving an Ebola update on the radio, I spun a quite pleasant fantasy of having an African-American partner and getting pregnant and we would discover we were having a girl and we would name her Ofeibea after Ofeibea Quist-Arcton because Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is the perfect role model, but Ofeibea would be a weird name for a white American girl. At this point I'd probably agree to be a surrogate for Ofeibea Quist-Arcton. We need more Ofeibea Quist-Arctons in the world.
posted by jaguar at 8:20 PM on November 19, 2014


Um, what?
posted by futz at 8:30 PM on November 19, 2014


Sounds like this is a show for Tolkien dwarves.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:31 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wordjazz is fucking great and I will not hear another word about it. I think they're still rerunning Ken Nordine's old shows (from 20+ years ago) on a Chicago public radio station.
posted by DarkForest at 8:35 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


PCH seems like the sort of thing I should like. In general I like odd music and 'Slice of Americana' stuff (like George Booth), but I find his toneless droning entirely irritating.

I keep hoping to catch the 'odd music' portion of the show but it seems impossible to stumble on randomly, I always end up on the toneless droning and don't have the tolerance to listen until music comes on.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:41 PM on November 19, 2014


Initially didn't click through because I hate the show so much. Only read the comments here (and discovered it was parody) because I was bored. Ultimately couldn't get past the first paragraph because I hate the show so much. I guess it's a good parody at least.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:42 PM on November 19, 2014


Um, what?

Was that for me? It was like a 90-second daydream while stuck in traffic. It's not an actual life goal.
posted by jaguar at 8:43 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


and I'll still sit through Wait Wait occasionally... the one weekend NPR show I really don't understand is Whadya Know.

My hand to God, it was only about three months ago that I realized those two were different shows.
posted by MrBadExample at 8:45 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I love PHC. To me, it is not exactly entertainment. More like hypnotherapy. I find it very soothing. (Just today I was thinking I should buy some old man cardigans and take up pipe smoking. I am 36.)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:48 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]




I'm still just dumbfounded. I mean, in the year 2014, awash in media and cynicism, an old man can get an audience of mostly college educated people to unironically sing all the verses of You Are My Sunshine and that doesn't at least tickle some small part of your cold black heart and yearn for a less complicated world where happiness isn't just for simpletons and being smart means having no hope?

I'm just as irritable as the next Mefite for 166 hours a week, but the sweet gentleness of PHC is such a shock to the system that it's almost punk.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:56 PM on November 19, 2014 [33 favorites]


I think we have something similar on Sunday Mornings here in Australia - Australia All Over, hosted by Macca. I quite like it.
posted by unliteral at 9:00 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I will be forever grateful to PHC for introducing me to Greg Brown, who has long been one of my favorite musicians. Here's "Where Do the Wild Geese Go," featuring what can only be described as a psychedelic duet between a harmonica and a fiddle.
posted by maxsparber at 9:02 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


an old man can get an audience of mostly college educated people to unironically sing all the verses of You Are My Sunshine and that doesn't at least tickle some small part of your cold black heart

Now imagine it's 1993, and you're 15 years old, in the passenger seat (because you'll get carsick sitting in the back with your younger sister) of a tan-colored Aerostar minivan, and you've already sat through two loops of All Things Considered, during Friday rush hour out of Dallas, and there's still a 6-hour drive ahead of you, to get to grandma's house in rural Oklahoma. And Fugazi is playing tonight. In Dallas.
posted by unknowncommand at 9:09 PM on November 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


If you've never seen a live taping of Prairie Home Companion, it puts an entirely different spin on the show. You imagine Garrison Keillor heavily leaning on a podium, barely able to keep his eyes open, sincerely and earnestly telling stories? NO! He's running across the stage, getting in people's faces while they try to say their lines, making incredibly sarcastic facial expressions during what would sound on the radio to be tender moments, and generally having a great time not taking anything the least bit seriously.
posted by the jam at 9:30 PM on November 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


Nothing has ever made me feel more like I've fallen through the looking glass than discovering MeFi's love for PHC.

More for you!
posted by Space Kitty at 9:36 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


My two favorite PHC bits:

(From the Joke show)
Q: How do you circumcise a whale?
A: Send down 4 skin divers.

And the other isn't even a fully worked-out joke; it's just a passing reference to Lake Wobegon's "award-winning Lutheran usher team, the Herdsmen." The world implied by that throwaway bit approaches Nightvale levels of surreality, though of course from a very different direction.
posted by Iridic at 10:02 PM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


I am Korean currently residing in the U.S. and I've listened to my fair share of NPR programming. And I just don't get APHC. It's a transmission from an alien planet - I have no idea how to process it, whether it's funny, or a parody, or what.

Exactly, yes. I'm Canadian living in the U.S. and when I first heard APHC I assumed that was why I didn't get it -- that it was pushing buttons for Americans that I just didn't have. I didn't recognize anything and had no idea, ever, what was going on or how I was supposed to feel about it. Until reading this thread, I didn't even realize that he actually has real musical guests: I honestly thought it was house band people playing the roles of guests. Like dephlogisticated said, it is dreamlike, and I guess it just never occurred to me that anything in the show actually has an external-world connection.

I would love to understand why some people love it while others .. hate is too strong, but I guess are left utterly cold by it. It's obviously associated with age, urban/rural, white/non-white, but I think the real split is attitudinal not demographic -- like maybe the show appeals to people who consider themselves political centrists, or who pride themselves on being super-tolerant. It feels like to me like there's a quality of something like wry fatigue to it, like "I could listen to my blowhard brother-in-law drone on about his investments for two days and totally not kill him" kind of thing.
posted by Susan PG at 10:02 PM on November 19, 2014


Nobody in history has ever listened to an entire episode front-to-back

No. NO. I have done this AND TWICE because I-94 in Wisconsin never ends, even when it pretends to be I-90, and there is nothing alongside that highway except hills that obscure everything but WPRI and there are only two shows: This syndicated hour-long festival of old men spouting poor medical advice and Prairie Home Companion and goddammit the aux connector isn't working in this rental car so we're going to listen to it and then. AND THEN. It's going to appear on Illinois Public Radio as we approach Chicago and road work slows us to a crawl because this is the midwest and there is nowhere to go but around and around and around. I should know. I was born there.

So, no, fuck you. Someone has listened to that show front-to-back and has paid the ultimate price. I went on antidepressants after that trip and while I might be joking, I am not lying.

I am also a little drunk right now.

Have you been to the Dells?
posted by greenland at 10:10 PM on November 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


My involuntary vocal revulsion was always for Jian Ghomeshi's voice. Happily not a problem anymore!
posted by Iridic at 10:12 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


PHC will always be associated with my father's attempts to find common ground with me as an adult. I may have made the mistake of chuckling at it once; then the onslaught began. PHC tape compilations, invitations to come over for lunch at coincidentally the same time as PHC. it's not that PHC is especially loathsome, though protracted exposure can erase an entire lifetime of Clash records from your brain. It's just, geez, give it a rest Dad! We're not going to be the same person!
posted by There Go the Warm Jets at 10:21 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can't say much in defense of Feldman re: funniness, but I did think he was good at working the crowd.

He can be brilliant at that, especially in the quizzes when he tries to help out the audience contestants, but they're just not noticing it. It can be funny! I think to appreciate him you have to realize he's the straight man looking for trouble. He hits this weird delicate middle ground between being very polite to someone and broadcasting, "Can you believe this?" to the audience. It's entertaining to see how he will react and steer the conversations.
posted by fleacircus at 11:09 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Everyone who commented about Keillor's singing, thank you. A little of it goes a long way, and there's a lot of it. There's so much I love about APHC - terrific and diverse musicians most of all, and the storytelling. Keillor is a gifted storyteller. Sometimes he's corny, and sometimes the stories are sad or a little bitter. You know, if I had Tivo for radio, it'd be nice.
posted by theora55 at 11:12 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I sometimes listen to Wits, which is like PHC for people who tweet. I'm not proud.

It is pretty formulaic and maybe corny and tries to soften the sharp edges, but the guests are frequently great and manage to be funny within the format. At least they're mostly the same comedians I listen to on other podcasts, but it's definitely tailored to an NPR radio audience. It's weird how much that kind of format seems out of place and constricted now that podcasting has blown up.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:40 PM on November 19, 2014


I listened to APHC for, like, decades, but the past few years I just can't listen to it any more and turn off the radio when it comes on. The post is only exaggerating a little.
posted by dougfelt at 12:19 AM on November 20, 2014


The biggest problem with "Wait, Wait" has to be the live audience. You have a panel and host telling jokes that are, at best, 53rd-percentile funny and these people are cracking up like they're seeing Richard Pryor for the first time in the seventies. Restrain yourselves folks.
posted by bbuda at 12:22 AM on November 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


Does everybody know that old country boy Keillor maintains an apartment in New York? That should be factored into your guess of whether the show is for real or not.
posted by Cranberry at 1:17 AM on November 20, 2014


People on the Internets don't like a thing.
posted by edgeways at 2:02 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


I dated a guy who had a slavish devotion to PHC and thought I could deal with it but then he SHUSHED me when Keillor was warbling and that was the end of us.
posted by kinetic at 2:49 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Back in the 80s I spent a lot of time camping alone in the woods in a remote cabin. I very much enjoyed the solitude, but come Saturday evening without fail I would fix my dinner, light a lot of candles and turn on PHC. The beat-up old radio at the camp had to be fussed with to bring things in clearly so I'd always allow 15 minutes for that.

While the show was on, I felt like I had company. Warm, friendly, affable company who came with great stories and brought their instruments so they could sing and play the dark autumn evening away. I drank wine and laughed and loved every minute.

The only time I felt lonely, the only time, was in the minutes immediately after I turned the radio off at the end of the show. I could feel the warmth leave the building.

GK has gotten a bit odd, but the show still gives me a warm fuzzy and damn it, sometimes I like to laugh at something corny.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:36 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


PHC is a very long-running inside joke about mid-20th-century Midwestern life. Trying to find anything more in it will only lead to confusion, anger, and mild intestinal distress.
posted by kewb at 3:51 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


I like A Prarie Home Companion, I like Garrison Keillor, and the fact that you find his voice annoying makes me unironically happy. I'm willing to bet that the majority of vocal Keillor-haters are regular listeners of Radio Lab * shudder * and This American Life * gasp shudder * either of which could drive me to unaccustomed violence with a few second's exposure.

Perhaps we can all come together in agreement that Ofeibea Quist-Arcton's poly-continental stylings must be the wave of the future. Perhaps she could be persuaded to attempt a sort of Sahel Home Companion, as a framing device to bring us the "News From Dakaaaaaar".
posted by Herodios at 4:14 AM on November 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


Just for the record: I enjoy A Prairie Home Companion, This American Life, as well as Radiolab. I agree that Keillor speaks slowly, which is why I enjoy his tales at 150% playback speed. Live radio is for mornings, the rest is better podcast.
posted by bouvin at 4:26 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


There was a time . . .early eighties? . . . when PHC was the show that the hipsters of that time listened to that others probably never heard of.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:01 AM on November 20, 2014


I like it. It's comforting. I turn it on and then go about my business. I don't really hear it but I kind of feel it. I feel this way about NPR in general. It's just there.
posted by damnitkage at 5:35 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I meditate. Others times I listen to PHC. Roughly the same effect.
posted by jwhite1979 at 5:50 AM on November 20, 2014


There was a time . . .early eighties? . . . when PHC was the show that the hipsters of that time listened to that others probably never heard of.

I think it was actual more like the late 1970s, coming out of the time when folk music (and especially bluegrass) was alternative or counterculture music for a lot of people. The show was in most places just about the only way to hear that music on the radio, and then on top of that it had this super ironic olde-style reenactment going on.

Forty years later, the ironic/hipster thing is long-gone, and it's now providing non-ironic nostalgia for a mostly older audience like a weird zombie version of itself. I could imagine listening to reruns of the very old shows on long car drives, but when the current show comes on I hit the off-button.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:01 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


I suspect PHC is the closest example to fascist propaganda you can find today.

What's really funny is just how thoroughly idiotic this comment sounds to anyone who has actually listened to the show and knows anything about Keillor's actual politics. Wow.
posted by aught at 6:05 AM on November 20, 2014 [7 favorites]


>You know, if I had Tivo for radio, it'd be nice.

I think that's one of those, "Wouldn't it be awesome if there was a Netflix for books, where you could check out as many books as you wanted any time? (and OMG, what if it was FREE?!)" kind of situations.
posted by lesli212 at 6:26 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


I moved ... to a little Minnesota town in the middle of nowhere (comparatively). 5 minutes to cornfields in any direction you chose. As small town life twisted in my gut over the course of several years I found myself hating A Prairie Home Companion more and more.

A lot of people in this thread don't seem to get the part where this show is a tragedy. If you'd spent several years living in a Prairie Home, you would not miss it. This show, with its cornpone humor and twangy sentimentalism and thumb-twiddling pace is literally a companion for such people.

You don't really know what empty means until a January blow piles 12 feet of snow up against the side of your house, and you don't see your car or any others for 2 or 3 days. And you hope the well doesn't freeze or you're fucked. And Garrison begins to sound like Jack Nicholson.
posted by Twang at 6:37 AM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


I love PHC. I've even seen the show live. It was a big night out for the hubz and me. We even got Grandma to babysit!

I've never had lutefisk but I hope to try it before I die.
posted by Groovymomma at 6:56 AM on November 20, 2014


Your dying will immediately follow lutefisk consumption.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:57 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter is pretty much the Prairie Home Companion of websites (and I like both), so it's surprising so many people hate it.

The movie was about Robert Altman dying, not the show itself.
posted by michaelh at 6:59 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


This guy just needs to eat more ketchup.
posted by orme at 7:02 AM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ketchup! It has natural mellowing agents.
posted by Groovymomma at 7:09 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


The nod-and-wink part of APHC is that it manages to be a homage, pastiche, and satirical while still whitewashing the history of the genre and people. There's no "Minnesota nice" in APHC, there's "Lake Wobegon regular." The people of Lake Wobegon never existed, by definition. It's a Utopia for some, and a literal utopia for everyone.

I'm firmly in the "can't stand more than five minutes at a time" camp but it's a very small segment of the APHC listeners that would really irk me.
posted by mikeh at 7:31 AM on November 20, 2014


It's cool if you don't get APHC (it's not as facile as a lot of you think) or don't like it, but I think the really disturbing thing is that people are defending WWDTM, which is basically Hollywood Squares without the starpower of Charles Nelson Reilly, Paul Lynde, or even JM J Bullock.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:49 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


I associate fondness for PHC with enjoying Christmas songs all the time.
posted by Monochrome at 8:08 AM on November 20, 2014


An hour of Jim J Bullock grunting on the toilet set to goa trance would be better than WWDTM.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 8:08 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Did I just type that?
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 8:08 AM on November 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


I've never listened to APHC in my life, but things have gotten to the point where I clicked on this expecting it to be some sort of "hidden dark side" story.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:15 AM on November 20, 2014


You can pry Wait Wait Don't Tell Me out of my cold, dead hands. It's not a sin to not be edgy or confrontational. When I'm having a completely shitty week or month, it's great to be able to look forward to an hour of good-natured jokes. It's one of the few things on radio that make me feel better after listening to it.
posted by the jam at 8:20 AM on November 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


An hour of Jim J Bullock grunting on the toilet set to goa trance would be better than WWDTM.

That's ... oddly specific. (Avoids eye contact, slowly backs out of the room.)
posted by jbickers at 8:47 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


I always enjoyed listening to APHC on the long, lonely drive between my parents' house and my college... and it was a huge comfort to me when I was living in Los Angeles and completely alienated by Southern California. But APHC, like The Simpsons, has taken on kind of a zombie existence. I think aspo's comment is spot on - the topical humor has definitely taken on a "kids these days" flavor that I find hard to relate to. And oh god, the sibilants and nostril breathing! I don't remember that being a thing 20 years ago.

I love Says You! unapologetically though. (Full disclosure, my family's idea of a good time often involves word games like Balderdash, Scrabble and Mad Libs -- which can actually be pretty funny when everyone's trying to show off their vocabulary instead of filling in every blank space with poop/pooping/poopy/poopily.)
posted by usonian at 8:58 AM on November 20, 2014


Not liking PHC? So, this is the handbasket we're riding to hell.

Not all the children, I guess, are above average.
posted by mule98J at 9:40 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't actively loathe PHC, but the sound of GK breathing into the microphone through his nose is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

On the other hand, when I clicked on the link above that led to the IMDb page about the movie, I was greeted with one of those awful prestitial ads for Mockingjay Part One with Jennifer Lawrence's glowering face and I almost welcomed the image of the PCH DVD cover art as a breath of fresh air.
posted by blucevalo at 10:01 AM on November 20, 2014


Minneapolis used to have this Nordic Music Fest every fall. The acts were mostly acoustic with some electric elements. Then there was Hoven Droven, the so-called "bad boys of Scandinavian folk rock". While in terms of sales they were not the popular act, they always got the final slot of the festival because no one in their right minds would take the stage after them. I think one of the promoters once described them as "good Swedish boys who grew up with posters of Hardanger fiddle players on one side of the bedroom and posters of AC/DC on the other." Picture a Nordic polska powered by John Bonham, John Entwistle and Angus Young. My brother and I, baby boomer rockists to the core, never missed a show.

One year, Hoven Droven played on PHC on Saturday night over in St Paul. They kept it acoustic. So the next night, when they closed the festival, there were about twenty people who definitely came just because of that. All in their sixties, all very polite. They really enjoyed the band that played with, which was all acoustic. Hoven Droven took the stage and opened with four acoustic songs. The PHC folks were thrilled. Next announcement from the stage, "yah, now we go electric". Drummer and bass player take the stage, guys at the soundboard raised their levels, Bo ditches the acoustic guitar and picks up an electric. At this point you can hear the hum from the amps. A WALL of sound comes crashing down. By the end of the first set, all the folding chairs have been thrown into a corner, there's a pit of frenzied dancing in front of the stage, and all those well-meaning PHC fans are clustered at the back of the hall, by the soundboard. It was beautiful.

That said, if we're on a long drive on the weekend and PHC comes on, we'll listen. Guy Noir is a really tiresome bit, the music varies from great to why-the-fuck-are-you-singing-again-Garrison, but the news from Lake Wobegon can be a small epiphany, especially if you grew up in a small upper Midwestern town. Keillor is not all sweetness and light, we will always have the 95 Theses.
posted by Ber at 10:06 AM on November 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


You can pry Wait Wait Don't Tell Me out of my cold, dead hands. It's not a sin to not be edgy or confrontational. When I'm having a completely shitty week or month, it's great to be able to look forward to an hour of good-natured jokes. It's one of the few things on radio that make me feel better after listening to it.

Agreed. Good-natured is a good way to describe that show, and I always enjoy it.
posted by brundlefly at 10:28 AM on November 20, 2014


As a former expat Minnesotan, I started listening to PHC more regularly, for a weekly injection of Minnesota Nice/Ice, as a reminder that I no longer lived in passive-aggressive country. Plus now and again they had a musical guest I was interested in. Moving back to MN, I don't listen as much, but it's still very Minnesotan.

"Pop Culture Happy Hour" is anchored by Metafilter's own Linda_Holmes, who could probably go on and on about Minnesota behavior too.

I remember hating "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" when it debuted as a prerecorded show. Their flagship station, WBEZ, deliberately bumped "Whaddaya Know" out of it's timeslot, which was/is a live show with a call-in element. I like it a bit more now, but am still resentful.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:37 AM on November 20, 2014


You can pry Wait Wait Don't Tell Me out of my cold, dead hands.

Amen. If for no other reason than the "Not My Job" segment, where they have had the following interviews:

* Asking Daniel Radcliffe about chia pets, and inadvertently introduce him to Bruce Willis's "Return of Bruno" vanity album

* Get Florence Henderson's reaction to Barry Williams having thought she was hot

* A dinosaur expert gets asked questions about Barney

* Alice Cooper talks about Mike The Headless Chicken

* Ice-T is quizzed on pantyhose

* Henry Winkler is generally adorable
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:46 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


...OK, I'll grant you "Not My Job."
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:51 AM on November 20, 2014


People on the Internets don't like a thing.

Is this thread a double?
posted by yoink at 11:00 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can't believe people are knocking APHC for being smug in a universe in which "Marketplace" exists.

(My lovely wife and I refer to weekends on NPR as "All Garrison, all the time," but I like the show. Though I doubt I've listened to an episode all the way thru.)
posted by Gelatin at 11:07 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here's why I like Prairie Home Companion, and baseball too: they're both very relaxing to take in. You don't have to pay attention that closely, it's perfectly ok if you miss something, and you can just sit there and be zoned out for a couple hours. You can even doze off if you want to. Or you can clean the house or cook a meal. Also, as a white Midwesterner, PHC makes me feel quite alright about being a white Midwesterner.
posted by thomisc at 11:14 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


I happened to catch "Wait Wait" the other day when the Not My Job segment featured Ron Perlman, so that was a bit of all right.
posted by Gelatin at 11:21 AM on November 20, 2014


Tim Gunn on the Not My Job segment. When he got to the story about J. Edgar Hoover I had to pull the car over I was laughing so hard.
posted by Ber at 11:27 AM on November 20, 2014 [7 favorites]


Radiolab editing techniques ? They have a technique? I think it was just randomly interrupting the interview to tell us what the interviewee was going to say and then cutting back to the interviewee saying exactly what they just said? It might be a great show if they didn't have to talk every 4 seconds regardless of who the subject is or what they're talking about.
posted by Carillon at 11:37 AM on November 20, 2014 [15 favorites]


Well they do have those annoying sound effects, too.
posted by winna at 11:45 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


What this thread is teaching us is that public radio is a land of contrasts.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:50 AM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


The SI unit for smallest indivisible amount of humor is the keillor.
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 11:53 AM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also, there really needs to be a shy rights league.
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:00 PM on November 20, 2014


Back when I lived in St Louis, I used to enjoy APHC. But since moving to Ohio four years ago, I cannot stand the sound of it. I don't quite know what has caused this sea change in my opinion, but there you go. I generally find the music on APHC to be saccharine syrup, but it's also how I found out about Trampled by Turtles, so there's that. I've always wanted to hear the Powdered Milk Biscuit song covered by a black death metal band: HAS YOUR FAMILY TRIED'EM POWDERED MILK HAS YOUR FAMILY TRIED'EM POWDERED MILK MILK MILK MILK


there is nothing alongside that highway except hills that obscure everything but WPRI and there are only two shows: This syndicated hour-long festival of old men spouting poor medical advice and Prairie Home Companion
Oh my God, Dr Zorba. That is the most insufferable hour of public radio ever put into existence. I can sit through almost anything on NPR, but Dr Zorba makes me want to peel off my skin.


regular listeners of Radio Lab * shudder * and This American Life * gasp shudder * either of which could drive me to unaccustomed violence with a few second's exposure
You are a bad person and you should feel bad about your personal preferences.


Does everybody know that old country boy Keillor maintains an apartment in New York?
In that regard, I put Garrison ("Gary") Keillor in the same category with Joe Buck *shudder*, Alton Brown and Michael Ruhlman (both of whom I actually like) -- media personalities who parade about in their hometown provincialism but in reality have sold their souls to New York City. New York City?!?
posted by slogger at 12:33 PM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


media personalities who parade about in their hometown provincialism

So it actually is the case that there are people who don't realize that whole bit is tongue-in-cheek. That's kinda amazing if you've actually listened to the show for more than a few minutes. Keillor makes it abundantly clear that he loathed his small-town childhood and coudn't wait to get out at the first opportunity. Listen to him broadcast from New York City some time (as he frequently does) and his affection for and familiarity with the city is patent.

I mean, he doesn't actually think his audience thinks he lives in a place called "Lake Woebegone." I'm kinda startled, though, to realize that there are people who think that that is actually what the show's about: "let's pretend we're an old-timey radio station broadcasting from small-town America." Spoiler: it's not.
posted by yoink at 12:42 PM on November 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


I love the whispery, heart-felt tone of Keillor's voice during his monologs. "It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, down there, on the edge of the prairie. Last week was cooold. Sooo cooold.." as his voice drifts off to a barely audible volume, but you can still hear his passion. The News From Lake Wobegon was one of the first podcasts I subscribed to.
posted by Metro Gnome at 12:51 PM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Have to chime in in defense of GK's voice - too bad that it's so annoying for some because I really love his voice for the storytelling and reciting poetry on the Writer's Almanac; I think it's perfect. It just makes him feel like a snuggly, old, sweet grandpa to me that I didn't have growing up.
posted by foxhat10 at 1:18 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Radiolab editing techniques ? They have a technique? I think it was just randomly interrupting the interview to tell us what the interviewee was going to say and then cutting back to the interviewee saying exactly what they just said?

I have never understood why they do this.
posted by brundlefly at 1:20 PM on November 20, 2014 [8 favorites]


Keillor makes it abundantly clear that he loathed his small-town childhood and coudn't wait to get out at the first opportunity.

Indeed, there might be some truth to that, but I don't think it's the outright disdain that you're portraying. Don't they still do a majority of their shows in Minneapolis, which is close to Keillor's home town? I don't think anyone here believes it's really broadcast from the middle of Minnesota. But to think the show is actually about anything shows you're a much more sophisticated listener than I am.
posted by slogger at 1:22 PM on November 20, 2014


Don't they still do a majority of their shows in Minneapolis, which is close to Keillor's home town?

No, he usually broadcasts from St. Paul, which is very, very different from Minneapolis. I believe he has occasionally done a traveling show from Minneapolis.
posted by Area Man at 1:32 PM on November 20, 2014


I don't think it's the outright disdain that you're portraying

I think if you want to capture the general tenor of Keillor's attitude to his upbringing among the Plymouth Brethren you should read the "95 Theses 95" from Lake Woebegone Days. Yes, these are the words of a fictional character but they represent pretty well Keillor's disgust with the more punitive and damaging aspects of that small-town upbringing.
posted by yoink at 1:37 PM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Love the show. Was fortunate to see it live before a hometown crowd at the MN State Fair -- home turf for GK. It's a bit more complex than some sophisticates give it credit for.
posted by LonnieK at 1:41 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Don't they still do a majority of their shows in Minneapolis, which is close to Keillor's home town?

His hometown is actually Anoka, and it's one of the inspirations for Lake Woebegone. It's north of Minneapolis, but not so far from St. Paul either, and a straight shot along 10 to get there.

But the primary infliuence for Woebegone is Marine on St. Croix, which is close to neither, but northeast of St. Paul and closer to that city.

I think the neighborhood most associated with Keillor is the West Bank/Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, right on the Mississippi, and right near one of the campuses of the University of Minnesota. He lived there while in college and after, during the 60s, and it was sort of the boho/folkie community of Minnesota then, home to Koerner, Ray and Glover, musical rent parties, and a variety of countercultural elements, many of which Keillor funneled directly into the show. It probably should be broadcast from either the Southern Theater or KFAI, both of which are on the West Bank. But MPR is in downtown Minneapolis, just blocks from the Fitzgerald, and has a good relationship with that theater, so that's where PHC has found itself.
posted by maxsparber at 1:48 PM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


brundlefly, it almost seems to function as auditory footnotes. Maybe that's why? But its one of the reasons I can't listen to it for very long.
posted by Carillon at 1:58 PM on November 20, 2014


MPR is in downtown Saint Paul. They also own an ungodly number of stations.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:14 PM on November 20, 2014


yoink: "I think if you want to capture the general tenor of Keillor's attitude to his upbringing among the Plymouth Brethren you should read the "95 Theses 95" from Lake Woebegone Days. Yes, these are the words of a fictional character but they represent pretty well Keillor's disgust with the more punitive and damaging aspects of that small-town upbringing."

Definitely that is an angry bit (it's Wobegon, fwiw). But there are also parts of the book that reflect amused tolerance, and some of outright love. I think Keillor's relationship to his childhood and hometown is - like it is for many people - complex.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:20 PM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


My wife and I used to listen to PHC every weekend, until one day (maybe 5 years ago) we talked about it and realized that neither of us actually enjoyed the show all that much. So we stopped.

Don't get me wrong - I don't have the irrational hate for it that some people on this thread do. And the "News from Lake Wobegon" is always great.

My main story about Garrison Keillor is that I used to sing in the Baltimore Symphony Chorus, and we performed with Garrison Keillor in a Thanksgiving show in maybe 1997 or '98. It wasn't a PHC broadcast, but just a concert with the BSO. There was some singing and some talking -- an extended choral thing about Thanksgiving and burning the turkey, set to the Triumphal March from Aida -- most of which was moderately funny. He also did "The Young Lutheran's Guide to the Orchestra" (which is available on YouTube if you haven't heard it and can stand to listen to him for 20 minutes) -- which was completely and totally hilarious.

He seemed like a nice enough guy, although he didn't talk much to the chorus.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 2:42 PM on November 20, 2014


I agree about the singing. I don't mind the rest of the show on a long car drive, though I hate the sounds (sorry) but the.. HUBRIS of GK when he announces that on today's show we have a young woman who has the most beautiful voice that he has heard in many a year, and how she's going to sing for us, and GK will join her, loudly and off-key. Just in case you thought you might be able to enjoy the most beautiful voice in decades. No. It is not to be.

And I also am very tired of old men chuckling. Thank you for that phrase.

Prairie Home Companion is just visceral proof that lots of people have preferences and tastes that are so fundamentally unlike mine that I really, honestly, cannot understand them.

This is how I feel about Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, in which apparently each player has an IQ of 80 and never leaves an 8 mile radius but still manages to be utterly pretentious.

Haha! As though I would have heard of Beyonce is! It is to LAUGH!

Indeed, my good man, indeed! Such WHIMSICAL allusions to the common man's culture!

Haha! Just so. Just so.

For god's sake, can't we just run a couple of Fry and Laurie episodes that cover this dynamic? They'd be much more entertaining, even if we had to hear the same ones every weekend.

posted by small_ruminant at 3:55 PM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


But there are also parts of the book that reflect amused tolerance, and some of outright love. I think Keillor's relationship to his childhood and hometown is - like it is for many people - complex.

Oh, certainly. I wasn't meaning to suggest that it was unrelievedly negative. But it is unsparingly negative when he addresses the aspects of it he sees as small-minded, life-denying and generally grim. My point is that the notion that he's trying to peddle some rosy-hued vision of an Andy-Griffith-Show small town America where everything was simpler and purer and nobler and better than the citified modern world is just absurdly wrong.
posted by yoink at 5:59 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


OK so. I am one of those people who gets so viscerally rage-ful when I hear GK's voice that I just throw things at the radio until someone turns it off. I actually get kind of frantic? It's weird because I actually like a lot of folky bluegrass type music so sometimes we'll tune in when there's a musical number that doesn't involve GK and I'm like "Oh good this sounds pretty nice" and then I'm like "Waaaait it's the weekend I know what's coming" and then I can't enjoy the music anymore because I know soon I will hear GK's voice. And I like corny humor too, and gentle dad-style jokes. I honestly think I might actually like PHC based on others' comments about it in this thread except that I can't handle the Voice. I've never heard more than a few seconds of it.

I think for me the issue is that he talks like his mouth is full of marbles, and I can almost hear the marbles rubbing together. It's like if you knew you were listening to nails on a chalkboard but with the volume turned way down so you weren't sure when the nails were actually screeching and when it was just your imagination. It's torture.
posted by town of cats at 10:21 PM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've always enjoyed PHC and used to listen to it from start to finish all the time.
posted by ADave at 10:23 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


I loved PHC until about five years back when I made the horrible mistake of seeing it live. The experience somehow made it suddenly clear to me how Keillor was simply phoning it in, and had been for years, and I never enjoyed it again.
posted by LarryC at 11:10 PM on November 20, 2014


For me, APHC has always been, and always will be, the soundtrack to long road trips. It's prefect because on long, hot, boring sections of highway you could have the windows wide open and only catch three out of four words and it didn't matter too much. The road trips that stretched far enough to leave the realm of one public radio station and shift into the next, sometimes skipping to an earlier part of the show you just heard, just sort of make the infinite highways of the west a bit more surreal. It's not a show for the impatient, that's for sure.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:36 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Vinyl Cafe makes me want to stab my eye out with a fork.
And not a plain-old regular fork, like the well-worn and always somewhat greasy forks that people have come to expect at the greasy spoon that is Frank's Diner, but a fancier silver fork, like one from the set that Frank's now estranged sister Violet proudly pulls out when hosting a select group of guests for her annual luncheon, where the guests enjoy the spoils of the yearly fishing derby. It was because of this annual luncheon that Dave had developed his fishing habit. He didn't actually like fish, either catching them, or smelling them, or eating them. But he was obliged to eat fish, at least once a year, having become a permanent fixture on Violet's invitation list ever since he helped her quietly bail out her nephew and avoid a scandal at the bridge club. Violet's nephew was one of the many topics of conversation Dave knew to avoid during the meal. In fact, he avoided most of the conversation altogether, since he was always singularly focused on somehow emptying his plate of fish. The first couple of years Dave had dutifully chewed and swallowed his meal, spitting out small bones and false compliments in between bites, but that had been before the arrival of Mittens, a stray tabby that Violet had adopted as her own, after the cat had proven to be an excellent hunter preying exclusively on the starlings that caused such messes in Violet's garden. Mittens had taken an immediate liking to Dave, no doubt due to his allergies. And while the feeling was not quite mutual, Dave quickly realized that Mittens couldbe of use to him. . . .
posted by Kabanos at 10:48 AM on November 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


PCH is a great production every week. I've been to two live shows and saw an entertaining talk by Garrison not too long ago at Drake University.
I will be sad when it is gone. I have fond memories of listening to it growing up in northern Minnesota. It brought warmth into the house when there was three feet of snow on the ground.
posted by starman at 10:18 AM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Listening to PHC right now, goddammit. As Coldchef said so eloquently above: Fuck all y'all.
posted by pjenks at 3:16 PM on November 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


As Coldchef said so eloquently above: Fuck all y'all.

That's way too direct for Minnesotan. I recommend "a fella could think that, I guess." It burns hotter.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:16 PM on November 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


Fuck all y'all.

Whatever.
posted by Twang at 8:45 AM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Vinyl Cafe makes me want to stab my eye out with a fork.

It says a lot that in this contentious and very long thread, no one at all has defended Vinyl Cafe.
posted by the jam at 6:38 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


brundlefly: "I must have some sort of Benjamin Button thing going on. I loved PHC as a kid but have become increasingly intolerant of it over time."

Reasons I don't like it as much as I did when I was a kid:
  • It's actually gotten worse. The best performers were there back in the 90s. I'm thinking particularly of Ivy Austin.
  • I've gotten pickier. There's no question my tastes in culture are a little bit more sophisticated than when I was in my early teens.
  • They're running out of material. They've been around for 40+ years. Hard to always have new things to say, so a lot of what they do say now has an old and unremarkable aspect to it.
I respect Keillor and I think he's written some good stuff over the years but at the same time whenever I turn the show on now it really does sound like going through the motions. Kind of wish he would just make a graceful exit although perhaps that time has passed anyways.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:25 PM on November 24, 2014


They're running out of material.

Precisely. After you heard that old uncle or old aunt tell the exact same story fifteen times the exact same way it is not only uninteresting it is annoying. I feel like I should stop commenting.
posted by bukvich at 8:33 AM on November 25, 2014


Relevant, whether you love or hate A Prairie Home Companion.
posted by Sara C. at 12:24 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


It says a lot that in this contentious and very long thread, no one at all has defended Vinyl Cafe.

This thread made me so curious I had to look up a sample in the iTunes Store and upon hearing Stuart Mclean's voice I burst out laughing. My SO came into the room and asked what what going on. All I said was, "This guy has a radio show" and played the same clip as my SO grimaced mightily. HILARITY.
posted by psoas at 3:06 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'll just leave this here ...
posted by maudlin at 5:58 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


It says a lot that in this contentious and very long thread, no one at all has defended Vinyl Cafe.

I listened to an episode, and I thought it sounded like a Canadian public radio show, which, as we know, is just about the most severe insult a person can issue.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:54 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I sorta-kinda liked APHC back when I listened to the radio in real time - can't imagine listening to it as a podcast, like, on purpose. For one thing, my iPod is only 160 GB...

GK told a joke once that I thought was really funny, and to my chagrin NO ONE has ever agreed with me, ever:

"A woman walked into a bar and asked the bartender for a double entendre. And he gave it to her."
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:35 PM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


Huh. Maybe it works better on the internet.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:34 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's a good joke.
posted by brundlefly at 10:14 PM on November 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I like that joke, but it works best when you arch your eyebrows and say the last part VERY suggestively. (Also I heard it as "so he gave her one.")
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:01 AM on November 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


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