Garrison Keillor announces retirement to AARP

Keillor plots retirement.

Keillor plots retirement.

Garrison Keillor may well have told Minnesota Public Radio privately about his plans to retire in 2013 from "A Prairie Home Companion."

Still, it was a little jarring to hear the news via AARP instead of, say, wrapping his ride into the sunset into an episode of "The Lives of the Cowboys." Keillor and MPR literally grew up together, starting in 1969 with Minnesota Educational Radio.


He broke the news during an interview with AARP book writer Evelyn Renold.

Q. Regarding A Prairie Home Companion, you've said, "I'm not sure a person should be doing this much beyond 70." On the other hand, you recently referred to yourself as the "not retiring" Garrison Keillor. Do you plan to scale back at some point?

A. I am planning to retire in the spring of 2013, but first I have to find my replacement. I'm pushing forward, and also I'm in denial. It's an interesting time of life.

Q. What do you think about retirement in general?

A. When I was younger, I was all in favor of it, and now that I'm at that age, I'm not sure. I sure don't want to make a fool of myself and be singing romantic duets with 25-year-old women when I'm 75. But on the other hand, it's so much fun. And in radio, the lighting is right.

Keillor is 69 years old, and a workhorse. Besides his famous weekly radio show carried by more almost 600 stations with an audience of about 4 million, he's written a spate of books, New Yorker stories and newspaper columns, and he helped Robert Altman make a movie based on PHC.

But he had a minor stroke in 2009. And in January he watched the curtain go up on "A Prairie Home Companion" from the sidelines from the first time, giving bluegrass fiddler Sara Watkins a shot as guest host.