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‘Prairie Home Companion’ successor moves show to NYC

Written by Ross Raihala / St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Live from Here,” the public radio variety show formerly known as “A Prairie Home Companion,” is abandoning its longtime home of St. Paul and will broadcast its upcoming fourth season from Town Hall in New York City.

“This season has been a dream for me and I’m chomping at the bit to build on it,” host Chris Thile told the website Jambase. “Next season, our public radio listeners and live-stream viewers will get the best and broadest selection of music and musicians we can possibly present, and they can also expect an expanded range of spoken word content, including poetry, literature, comedy and storytelling.”

The move comes as little surprise to those who’ve followed the radio show’s transition from founder Garrison Keillor to Thile, a mandolinist, songwriter and frequent “Prairie Home” guest before he took over as host in 2016.

Under Thile’s watch, “Live from Here” has attracted some high-profile guests, including Paul Simon, Jack White, Chris Stapleton, David Crosby, Steve Martin, Kacey Musgraves and Randy Newman. But he also took the show on the road, performing in venues across the country with an emphasis on Town Hall. During the third season, Thile only played the Twin Cities four times and performed just twice at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater, the show’s home base since 1978.

In September, American Public Media fired the final few Keillor-era names from the show. The following month, First Avenue announced it was buying the Fitzgerald. The sale was completed in March.

“This is a great move for us as it puts us in the heart of the one of the great hubs of our industry,” said Jeffy Hnilicka, the show’s managing director. “It means an even better experience for our audiences with more world-class guests, more variety and live streaming at every show.”

The 2019-20 season kicks off Sept. 7.