Former 'Prairie Home Companion' host Keillor fired, accused of 'inappropriate behavior'

Garrison Keillor. (Prairie Home Productions via MGN)

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Garrison Keillor, former host of radio variety show "A Prairie Home Companion," has been fired from Minnesota Public Radio over accusations of "inappropriate behavior" with a colleague, MPR announced Wednesday.

MPR learned of the allegations against 75-year-old Keillor last month.

MPR released a statement that said, in part: "MPR takes these allegations seriously and we are committed to maintaining a safe, respectful and supportive work environment for all employees and everyone associated with MPR. We want a workplace where anyone who experiences unwanted behavior feels comfortable in reporting concerns to MPR. Discrimination, harassment, retaliation or other inappropriate behaviors will not be tolerated."

MPR President Jon McTaggart added, "Garrison Keillor has been an important part of the growth and success of MPR, and all of us in the MPR community are saddened by these circumstances. While we appreciate the contributions Garrison has made to MPR and to all of public radio, we believe this decision is the right thing to do and is necessary to continue to earn the trust of our audiences, employees and supporters of our public service."

The name of "A Prairie Home Companion," currently hosted by Chris Thile, will be changed, and rebroadcasts of "The Best of A Prairie Home Companion" hosted by Keillor will be discontinued, MPR said.

In a Wednesday email to Minnesota's Star Tribune, Keillor said, "I put my hand on a woman's bare back. I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called."

He continued, "Getting fired is a real distinction in broadcasting and I've waited 50 years for the honor. All of my heroes got fired. I only wish it could've been for something more heroic."

"If I had a dollar for every woman who asked to take a selfie with me and who slipped an arm around me and let it drift down below the beltline, I’d have at least a hundred dollars," Keillor told the Star Tribune. "So this is poetic irony of a high order. But I’m just fine. I had a good long run and am grateful for it and for everything else."

On Tuesday, Keillor, a Democrat, wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece that the idea of Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., resigning over allegations of sexual misconduct is "pure absurdity."