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Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.

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Hi, Mr. Keillor. I've listened

August 2, 2006 |

Hi, Mr. Keillor.

I've listened to your show pretty consistently for at least the last five years (that's 25%) of my life, and have just gotten my own show on Cornell University's brand new, student-run radio station! This comes as something of a surprise to me, because I never really had a pressing ambition to be a radio show host—I just applied ... and they gave it to me. I was wondering if you could give me any general tips for making a radio show as interesting as you do.

Katherine C.
Ithaca, NY

I was talking to a friend who does a daily radio show that is really free-form and loose and funny, a solo guy in a studio, sometimes taking phone calls, and he admitted that he spends hours every day writing for it. The show doesn't sound written, there isn't a script, but writing is nonetheless the backbone of it. You sit down and write out your thoughts, what you might want to say, and then you go do the show and maybe do something like what you wrote or maybe something entirely other, but the writing is the key. Having prepared one thing gives you the courage to improvise something else.

Second piece of advice: go for opposites, to keep your range open. For example, having a raucous rock n' roll theme song at the beginning will give you the freedom to talk about serious stuff. Being silly or sarcastic occasionally opens the door to being sentimental and sincere. Don't tie yourself down.

Third: entertain yourself. If you're bored, then you have a problem.

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