The first time Garrison Keillor broadcasted his now famous “A Prairie Home Companion” lecture, only 12 people heard what he had to say.
At 7 p.m. tomorrow night, an expected crowd of several thousand people will hear him deliver a speech for the 27th Martin Bucksbaum Lectureship Series.
Keillor’s speech won’t include the adventures of a private eye, singing cowboys or an ambitious reference librarian, but audiences will still be treated to the host’s warm Minnesota humor and matter-of-fact style.
The lecture is titled “An Evening with Garrison Keillor.”
Erica Hartschen, assistant to the president for advancement of Drake University, said the Bucksbaum lectures are a great way to connect persons of national stature with students.
“The Bucksbaum Lectures provides… the Des Moines community with a wonderful opportunity to listen and engage with people of national and international stature,” Hartschen said. “(The audience can) hear them share their views on many of the topics we are interested and concerned with in today’s society.”
Keillor delivered his first broadcast of “A Prairie Home Companion” at Macalester College in July 1974. His audience has now grown to more than 4.3 million weekly listeners across almost 600 public radio stations, according to a Drake University press release.
Many of Keillor’s shows revolve around the fictitious Minnesota town Lake Wobegone, a place in which “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average,” according to Keillor’s broadcasts.
In addition to being a broadcaster, Keillor has also written several books including “Lake Wobegone Days” and “Pilgrims: A Wobegone Romance.” He has won numerous Grammy and George Foster Peabody awards.
In 2006, he starred as himself in a movie adaptation of “A Prairie Home Companion,” appearing beside Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin and Woody Harrelson among other famous names.
Keillor will be the most recent in a long line of distinguished Bucksbaum speakers. Past lecturers have included Bob Costas, Jane Goodall, Salman Rushdie, Bill Bryson and Maya Angelou. The most recent speaker was Twyla Tharp, a legendary dancer, choreographer and author.