Garrison Keillor, the creator and retired host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” said Wednesday evening in Pittsfield he was bewildered by his firing from Minnesota Public Radio over allegations of inappropriate behavior, The Berkshire Eagle reports.
Keillor, 75, was in town for a previously scheduled 7 p.m. appearance with folk duo Linda and Robin Williams at The Colonial Theatre, which was canceled following news of his firing.
The radio host spoke with an Eagle reporter at Eat on North, where he was having dinner, according to the newspaper.
“I don’t think that people should talk out of bewilderment,” Keillor told the Eagle. “My situation is that I’ve worked extremely hard on a show that I love for almost 50 years, and somebody else can torch it in one morning, and so it’s all gone. And it’s a difficult thing to discuss.”
He told the newspaper he found out his show in Pittsfield was cancelled around 4:30 p.m.
In announcing the termination of Keillor’s contracts, MPR said it received the allegations last month of “inappropriate behavior” against Keillor involving one person who worked with him while he was hosting “A Prairie Home Companion.”
On Wednesday, Keillor emailed his account to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, saying he had put his hand on a woman’s bare back while trying to console her.
‘‘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,” he told the Tribune. “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.”
Later, he gave a statement to MPR News saying he had to respect the privacy of the “two employees who have made the allegations,” according to the AP.
Keillor retired as a host from “A Prairie Home Companion” last year, but had continued to work on different projects for MPR after he left the radio variety show.
“It’s all kind of bewildering to me,” Keillor told the Eagle while he was paying his bill at Pittsfield restaurant.
According to the Eagle, people stopped by the humorist’s table during his meal, including some who voiced their support for him.
“I was raised with the guy,” Linda Dulye told the Eagle of why she asked Keillor not to stop telling stories. “My dad was a radio guy, so I love radio guys. … I don’t know whatever [Keillor] did, but he’s a radio guy, and there are not too many more radio guys. That’s the power of radio. He’s a storyteller, and that’s a great art.”