Garrison Keillor to be Baccalaureate speaker

Feb. 6, 2001, 4 p.m.

Garrison Keillor, who developed the live radio show "A Prairie Home Companion" more than 25 years ago and created a mythical hometown dear to millions of listeners, will be the speaker at this year's Baccalaureate service, the interfaith worship service marking the end of the school year.

Keillor first went to work for Minnesota Public Radio in 1969. He hosted the first live broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion" in 1974 at Macalester College in Saint Paul for an audience of 12 people and ticket receipts of almost $8. Today, the show is heard by almost 2.6 million U.S. listeners on more than 460 public radio stations and by listeners abroad.

During the years, Keillor established public radio as an important source for entertainment as well as for news, and proved that the musical-comedy-variety radio format -- said to be on its deathbed -- remained very much alive. His yarns about mythical Lake Wobegon, the Minnesota town where all the children are above average, remind listeners of hometowns in Texas, Vermont, and just about everywhere in between.

Keillor was born in Anoka, Minn. and attended the University of Minnesota, where he majored in English and worked at the Minnesota Daily and the university radio station. "A Prairie Home Companion" began as a Saturday afternoon musical variety show, and began national broadcasts in 1980.

In addition to his duties at Minnesota Public Radio, Keillor writes a weekly column for Salon, the online magazine, as well as essays and articles for other publications. He also has produced numerous books, including novels, story collections and children's books, and is working on a novel called "1956 Lake Wobegon Summer."

The Baccalaureate ceremony will be held Sunday, June 3 in the University Chapel. Attendance is limited to students and their guests.

Contact: Justin Harmon (609) 258-3601