When Robert Altman directed his final film, 2006’s A Prairie Home Companion, he posited a bright, utopian world, one in which cornpone overlord Garrison Keillor finally stepped down from his dark, Powdermilk Biscuit-covered throne and relinquished his hold on America’s radio waves. Now, the light Altman hurled into the future may finally be allowed to shine, as the 72-year-old Keillor revealed during a recent taping that his exit strategy from A Prairie Home Companion has finally been put in place.
Keillor announced that he plans to phase himself out of the show during its 2015-2016 season, departing the program he first founded back in 1974. Hosting duties—along with the mysterious measurement devices that ensure that all of Lake Wobegon’s children remain above average, on pain of death—will pass to mandolinist and singer Chris Thile, of Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers, a repeat guest in The A.V. Club’s little round room.
Thile will co-host A Prairie Home Companion alongside Keillor for several episodes, before transitioning into full-time hosting. A Companion veteran who first performed on the program more than 15 years ago, Thile previously guest-hosted the show last February, giving a performance that was said to be pleasing to the show’s garrulous master. Keillor said that he expects to continue guest on the program in seasons to come, hopefully alleviating fears that beloved fictitious detective Guy Noir would be euthanized in Keillor’s final episode as host.
Keillor has made noises about retiring in the past, presumably as a scheme to draw out potential usurpers so that they might be ground down and fed to the rhubarb. But he seems fairly serious this time, telling The Berkshire Eagle—whose name, reassuringly, isn’t quite goofy enough to have been invented by Keillor for the show—that, “Chris is my man, and I’m eager to stay home and read books.” His dark dominion over The Writer’s Almanac is expected to continue.