“It’s been a quiet week ….”

September 18, 2009



See, my problem is that I want to be Garrison Keillor. I don’t mean that I want to live in Minnesota, but that I want to have a live radio show and I want to be able to tell stories the way he does.

I had a taste of live radio when I was in college. Over the course of four years and another couple of years after I got out of grad school, I did shows on the Seton Hall University radio station, which had an audience extending at least six blocks in all directions. To me, it was a mystical experience, sitting alone at night in a little studio, talking to a mike as though it were a living thing and hoping that somewhere out there in the dark someone, anyone, was more absorbed in my prattle than the engineer dozing in the glow of the transmitter lights on the other side of the double window. Wondering when the call would come, the husky female voice with its streaks of seduction and madness: “Play ‘Misty’ for me.”



But I digress. The only person I can recall who could tell stories as well as Keillor was Jean Shepherd. I listen to Keillor’s monologues over and over, trying to divine the particular quality that makes his tales so compelling. But, of course, I can do no such thing; the stories are as good as they are because they come from him. So my only option is to be him. That doesn’t seem like so much to ask for if I can’t be Clint Eastwood, sitting in that lonely studio, waiting for the call I know will come and the sultry, slightly dangerous voice I know I will hear ….

Sorry. Lost my head. Well, Garrison Keillor and I do have a couple of things in common. He recently suffered what has been described as a minor stroke — that’s not what we have in common — but he quickly recovered and went back to work, apparently intending to concede nothing to his advancing years. He and I are both 67.



Keillor told an Associated Press reporter that some of his friends have been encouraging him to retire.

“People are always ready to give you advice about what you should do,” Keillor told the AP writer, “and you should take it easy and so on. But taking it easy makes me restless and unhappy. “I’m not a collector of things. I don’t have hobbies … so work is what I do.”

He and I are of one mind on that point. When I was involuntarily a man of leisure, I could feel the seams coming apart. Now that I’m overbooked again, I feel like a man of 60.

The AP writer, incidentally, no doubt wanting to assure readers that the stroke had no lasting effect on Keillor, delicately slipped in to the copy the observation that Keillor’s speech showed no sign of slurring. And who says there’s no real journalism anymore?

The AP story, from the web site of the San Francisco Chronicle, is at this link:



2 Responses to ““It’s been a quiet week ….””

  1. Patricia Paugh Says:

    There is a guy in New Jersey who has an Internet radio station. I can’t remember his name, but I could track it down. This might get you in front of a mic again. And there’s always podcasting, which is easy as pie. Not for me, of course. I can’t bake, but I can podcast.

    • charlespaolino Says:

      With my schedule as a teacher, clergyman, and freelance writer, I wouldn’t have the time. Actually, there is a radio station down here in Central Jersey that relies on volunteer personnel, but I can’t squeeze that in either.

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