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Mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile to take over Garrison Keillor’s iconic radio show

Garrison Keillor, long-time host of Minnesota Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion, will soon retire and ride off into the Lake Wobegon sunset. The program first aired on July 6, 1974 and, after 41 years with the same host, a new man will be stepping to the mic.

Vocalist, songwriter, and mandolin virtuoso extraordinaire Chris Thile will helm the show going forward, as it continues into its fifth decade on air. Thile, who received a MacArthur “Genius Grant” in 2012, performs and records with both bluegrass quintet Punch Brothers and acoustic trio Nickel Creek.

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During the 2015-2016 season, the multi-talented Thile will be joined periodically by Keillor serving as co-host. Keillor won’t officially exit stage until sometime next year. Thile has been a frequent guest on the show and even guest-hosted twice. If you want to know how the show will be structured going forward, those appearances are your best indicator, as we don’t yet have many details on how the transition will play out.

While the show will retain its name, it is likely to undergo a face-lift once the 72-year old Keillor steps away. The long-time host’s tranquil voice, and wise and witty delivery was that of a worldly father figure, something that will be difficult for the spry 34-year old Thile to replicate. Only time will tell how the program’s focus will shift, but you can bet it will feature Thile’s brilliant musical talents whenever possible.

The show’s outgoing front man doesn’t seem all too worried about it. The Berkshire Eagle, which originally broke the story, quotes him as saying “Chris is my man, and I’m eager to stay home and read books.”

So there you have it. If you’re looking for Keillor, you’ll find him kicking back with a book or two in a place “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”