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MPR Severs Ties With Keillor Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Iconic noncommercial radio host Garrison Keillor is the latest high-profile figure to lost his job over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Keillor is the former host of A Prairie Home Companion.

Minnesota Public Radio said it was terminating its contracts with Keillor and his media companies "After recently learning of allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him," MPR said in a statement. It made clear in the statement the allegations were serious, and that they clearly found them credible.

MPR said it was notified of the allegations last month and that the conduct had occurred while Keillor was responsible for the production of the show.

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MPR said an independent investigation was conducted of the allegations, as a result of which it will:

* end distribution and broadcast of The Writer's Almanac and rebroadcasts of The Best of A Prairie Home Companion hosted by Garrison Keillor;

* change the name of APM's weekly music and variety program hosted by Chris Thile [Editor's note: That would be A Prairie Home Companion, which MPR would not even name]; and,

* separate from the Pretty Good Goods online catalog and the website.

"Garrison Keillor has been an important part of the growth and success of MPR, and all of us in the MPR community are saddened by these circumstances," said Jon McTaggart, President of MPR, in a statement. "While we appreciate the contributions Garrison has made to MPR and to all of public radio, we believe this decision is the right thing to do and is necessary to continue to earn the trust of our audiences, employees and supporters of our public service."

Keillor suggested it was much ado about very little.

“I put my hand on a woman’s bare back," Keillor said in an e-mail to the Minnesota Star-Tribune, according to the paper. "I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.

“Anyone who ever was around my show can tell you that I was the least physically affectionate person in the building," Keillor continued. "Actors hug, musicians hug, people were embracing every Saturday night left and right, and I stood off in the corner like a stone statue."

He suggested that he had been the object of wandering hands.  "If I had a dollar for every woman who asked to take a selfie with me and who slipped an arm around me and let it drift down below the beltline, I’d have at least a hundred dollars. So this is poetic irony of a high order."

Keillor is the third prominent public media figure to be caught in a wave of allegations of sexual impropriety. PBS (and CBS) have fired former journlist and talk show host Charlie Rose and NPR placed chief news executive Michael Oreskes on leave.

(Photo via WikiMedia Commons. Photo was taken April 27, 2006. Using Creative Commons License 2.0. Photo was cropped and resized to fit 16x9 aspect ratio)

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.