I heard the final Prairie Home Companion this morning, thanks to a link from my local Public Radio station, WNYC, because this past Saturday, when the show aired, I was up in Lenox, Massachusetts having dinner. I often missed the show on busy Saturdays, but when a more leisurely weekend came along, I indulged my love not only for Garrison Keillor and his companions but also for the Car Talk guys, Tom and Ray Magliozzi.
These Saturday voices on my radio provided me the three things I love most…laughter, song, and learning. But it was as much about the day of the week as it was about what I was hearing. I was relaxed, puttering around the house, usually multi-tasking chores like tidying up or folding laundry as I listened, and that state of mind permeates my memories of these shows. In fact, I don’t much recall the content of specific broadcasts but rather the simple pleasure of receiving them, free, clear (unless I was driving through poor reception), and full of delight.
I will miss new offerings of Garrison’s wry commentary as I’ve missed the live banter between Tom, who died a year and a half ago, and his younger brother Ray. There will be rebroadcasts of both shows, going forward, and Prairie Home Companion will return with a new host, musician Chris Thile, in October, but I will probably look for new ways to savor Saturdays. Always though, there will be a poignant reminiscence in the mix…from those Saturdays to which I can never return, like those from my childhood or the early days of my marriage. In his final report from Lake Wobegon, Keillor spoke of seeing ghosts in the familiar places he’s frequented throughout his life. I’ll be hearing their voices.