By Michael Freeman, Managing Editor
A Prairie Home Companion, a public radio program with a national audience of more than 4 million listeners, will broadcast live from Moody Coliseum Saturday at 5 p.m.
“It’s the biggest thing to ever happen to KACU,” said Terri Peterson, KACU-FM membership director and business manager. “This is the most listened program in public radio.”
Based in St. Paul, Minn., the show, known for comedic segments such as “The News from Lake Wobegon” and “Guy Noir, Private Eye”, tours the country, making about 10-15 stops every year. persuaded A Prairie Home Companion to make its first trip to Texas since June 2006 when the show played in Austin. Sixteen women from the ACU A Cappella Chorus will be performing with the radio program, which is making its first appearance to West Texas.
“We’re really, really fortunate to have it come to Abilene,” said John Best, journalism professor and KACUFM general manager.
On July 6, 1974, Garrison Keillor, the show’s host, and the A Prairie Home Companion team began broadcasting its live variety show. More than 30 years later, the radio program has produced broadcasts from Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany, Iceland and almost every U.S. state. Five hundred and eighty public radio stations now carry the program, including stations in Europe and the Far East.
“It’s an old time radio show in the 21st Century,” Best said. “There are very few old time radio shows left, and it’s really the most popular radio show in the world.”
Along with Keillor, several performers will be in the folksy show, including fiddle player Elana James, steel guitarist Cindy Cashdollar and Gospel singer Jearlyn Steele. Also featured in Saturday’s show will be Tim Russell, Sue Scott, Fred Newman, Rich Dworsky and the Guys All-Star Boot Band.
More than 3,800 tickets were available when tickets to Saturday’s show went on sale in August. Three thousand tickets already have been sold to people from Abilene as well as New York, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico and the Texas metropolitan areas.
“It’s going to be a phenomenal performance,” Best said. “I’ve seen the show twice live before. Although it’s an absolutely phenomenal show as a radio show, it’s truly exciting to see in person. There’s so much energy that comes off the stage, and all of the performers really have fun doing it.”
For those who cannot attend Saturday’s performance, they can listen to KACU-FM’s rebroadcast of the show Sunday at 2 p.m. But for those who wish to see the show, tickets are still available for $25 and $75. Tickets can be purchased at the KACU office or the box office in Moody Coliseum.