Dec 3, 2011

Keillor un-retires from "Prairie Home Companion" yet again

Well, American Public Media's former president Bill Kling was right — Garrison Keillor wasn't serious about retiring in spring 2013, as Keillor had announced earlier this year. Keillor told the Sioux City Journal on Dec. 1 that he "thought about" leaving his hosting duties at A Prairie Home Companion, "and then it panicked me . . . which got me to rethinking the whole brilliant idea. The show is going well. I love doing it. Why quit?"

Keillor has become notorious for startling fans of the popular show by talking about leaving, then changing his mind. In March, Kling had dismissed Keillor's statement as a publicity stunt, intended to tease supporters and bring new contributors into the Prairie Home Companion talent mix. "He throws things out there to see what the reaction would be," Kling told Current.

Iowa Public Television's Mike Newell dies at 66

Mike Newell, a longtime producer at Iowa Public Television, died Thursday night (Dec. 1) at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, after suffering a heart attack the previous week and undergoing surgery on Nov. 29, reports the Des Moines Register. He was 66.

"Iowa Public Television's public affairs series Iowa Press lost its leader this week when longtime coordinating producer Mike Newell passed away," the station said on its website. "For the past 20 years, Mike's hands were at the helm of this program, steering a steady course through the sometimes murky waters of public policy and politics. While you never heard his voice on Iowa Press, he was undoubtedly the heart and soul of the program."

Newell had worked full time for the pubTV station since 2003, according to the Register, and freelanced for the network since the 1980s, producing stories for its rural business program, Market to Market.

Newell had a mild heart attack at age 49, which prompted a change in his daily schedule. Until then, he told a Register columnist after that health crisis, Newell would awaken at at 3:40 a.m. and to the office by 5. “I’d have three cups of coffee and three cigarettes before I put my underwear on,” Newell said; he'd work until after midnight, and do it all again the next day.

He is survived by his wife Chris and two daughters. Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. Monday at Dunn’s Funeral Home (2121 Grand Ave., Des Moines) and a funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church.