Interesting story in the New York Times about the upcoming retirement of Garrison Keillor after his last Praire Home Companion show. I’ve listened for many years — even when it tried my patience — and I’ll miss Keillor.
The show’s future is uncertain. They’ve named mandolin virtuoso Chris Thiele to take over hosting duties, but that will account for just 13 new shows during the next year and the rest will be repeats of Keillor programs.
Then another public radio item caught my eye: WHYY in Philadelphia has dropped Car Talk from its schedule. The long-time public radio staple has been in “best of” mode since 2012, and co-host Tom Magliozzi died two years ago. I still listen and laugh and I’m sure it still makes money, but you can’t go on like that forever.
When you take away Car Talk and Prairie Home Companion, the list of big public radio shows is pretty short. When’s the last time they had a new show as popular as This American Life or Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me?
Maybe public radio doesn’t need a next big thing, but popular shows have great power to bring a lot of new listeners to the table. At a time when NPR and its affiliates are losing audience, they’re going to need something.