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Chris Thile
Chris Thile (MPR/Devin Pedde)

MPR Drops Former ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ Staff As The Show Retools

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ST. PAUL (CelebrityAccess) — Three longtime employees of the Minnesota Public Radio show “A Prairie Home Companion” have lost their jobs with the show’s successor “Live from Here with Chris Thile” as the program diverges from its PHC companion roots.

According to MPR News, the broadcaster declined to renew the contracts of Kate Gustafson Sanderson, the show’s managing director. As well, MPR fired marketing director David O’Neill and the show’s technical director Jason Keillor, who is also the son of former host Garrison Keillor.

“I don’t know what to say about it,” Jason Keillor told MPR. “We weren’t given any reason other than the tightening of the budget of Live from Here, which I do understand. MPR is promoting a very expensive new show, and they’re getting incredible talent. I understand they’re having to budget carefully.”

Senior Vice President Tim Roesler said changes were necessary to support the “evolving” changes of the show.

In an email to MPR News, spokesperson Angie Andresen said that the show’s national programming unit would share more information about upcoming changes to the show in the coming months as its third season gets underway.

Jeff Hnilicka, who helped to oversee live events for MPR, will take over as the show’s managing director MPR News reported.

“Live from Here with Chris Thile” is broadcast on Saturday evenings and is typically presented live in front of an audience at Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota with a guest musical artist. Recent performers have included the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, John Prine, and Shovels & Rope. The show also frequently tours, with stops in major markets such as Los Angeles and New York.

Formerly known as “A Prairie Home Companion” the show was created and hosted by humorist and author Garrison Keillor from 1974 until he announced his retirement from the program in 2016. At its peak in 2015, the show reached an audience of four million U.S. listeners each week.

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