November 29, 2017 10:20 PM
News that Minnesota Public Radio had severed all ties to Garrison Keillor over allegations of inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him Wednesday came as disturbing news in Freeport.
That's because Keillor is a man many in the small Stearns County town west of St. Cloud consider one of their own.
Keillor rented a farmhouse south of town before he started his popular Saturday-evening variety radio show "A Prairie Home Companion" in 1974
And Freeport and the surrounding area helped provide the basis for the featured tales about the fictional town of Lake Wobegon featured on the show.
Many people in town Wednesday didn't want to talk about the situation.
But others, like Aaron Christianson, spoke in support of him.
"Garrison Keillor is not the guy that I would ever pick for something like that," he said.
Ken Hennen also voiced his support.
"How do I say this politically correct," he said. "I think he was kind of railroaded? From what I heard, he was consoling somebody, and then all of a sudden he's accused of sexual harassment. I don't think it is right."
Keillor told the Star Tribune in an email Wednesday that the allegation he faces involved him attempting to pat a woman's back after she had told him "about her unhappiness." Keillor wrote that the woman's shirt was open in back and his hand went up about six inches. Keillor told the newspaper he apologized when the woman "recoiled," and also emailed the woman an apology.
He said she replied that she'd forgiven him and "not to think about it."
Some in Freeport, who didn't want to speak on camera, said they would wait to see how thing play out for Keillor before passing judgment.
Keillor himself had been scheduled to appear at a WAMC Northeast Public Radio Event Wednesday at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
The theater had confirmed to KSTP the event was not canceled as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. However, within an hour a statement was posted on the theater's website canceling the show.
It read: "Per DSP Shows, who had rented The Colonial Theatre, the show with Garrison Keillor tonight, Wednesday, November 29th at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield has been cancelled. Contact BTG's box office at 413-997-4444 for refund information. Berkshire Theatre Group finds any victimization of people deplorable."
Tickets had cost up to $80 for the evening with Keillor and musicians Robin and Linda Williams.
As for the future of "A Prairie Home Companion," from which Keillor retired in 2016, MPR said the name of the program, which is now hosted by Chris Thile, will change.
And all reruns with Keillor will no longer be played.
Reached via Facebook, Keillor declined to comment on the matter to KSTP.
"Sir, I thank you for asking but my lawyer tells me not to say anymore," he wrote.
"Hard advice for a radio guy to follow but there it is."
Updated: November 29, 2017 10:20 PM
Created: November 29, 2017 08:31 PM
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