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Hawai‘i Public Radio pulls plug on ‘Prairie Home’ replacement

  • COURTESY MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO

    Chris Thile replaced Garrison Keillor as host of “A Prairie Home Companion” in 2016. When Keillor was accussed of workplace misconduct in November 2017, Minnesota Public Radio decided to rename “Prairie Home” after Thile.

  • COURTESY HAWAI‘I PUBLIC RADIO

    “American Routes,” which has been on the air for more than 20 years with host/producer Nick Spitzer, left, replaces “Live from Here with Chris Thile” on Hawaii Public Radio’s HPR-1 starting March 3. Guy Steele, right, will host the final broadcast of “Sinatra: The Man and the Music” on HPR on Feb. 25 before taking the show online to its new home at New York City-based Pure Jazz Radio.

Hawai‘i Public Radio is ending local syndication of “Live from Here with Chris Thile” at the end of February, less than three months after allegations of workplace misconduct against former “A Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor prompted a name change for the weekly broadcast.

“American Routes,” which has been on the air for more than 20 years with host/producer Nick Spitzer, a folklorist and a professor of anthropology and American studies at Tulane University, will premiere at 6 p.m. March 3 on HPR-1 (88.1 FM). The two-hour weekly show plays music ranging from jazz, blues, gospel and soul to old-time country, rockabilly, Tejano and avant-garde.

Minnesota Public Radio, which produced “Prairie Home” in partnership with a company owned by Keillor, ended its relationship with him in November amid the allegations by a former staffer and within weeks renamed the show after its current host. The resulting move by HPR to replace “Live from Here” was a financial decision, station president and general manager José Fajardo explained in a statement announcing the change.

“We could not justify purchasing what was in essence a new show for the same $25,000 we had paid (annually) for the iconic ‘Prairie Home,’” Fajardo said. “By bringing back proven listener-favorite ‘American Routes,’ we are … saving $22,000 a year.”

Also departing HPR at the end of the month is “Sinatra: The Man and the Music,” which has been produced and hosted locally by Guy Steele for nearly 20 years. He’ll say goodbye to terrestrial radio listeners at 9 p.m. Feb. 25, but fans will be still able to find the show online via New York City-based purejazzradio.org at 3 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays and 6 a.m. Mondays starting March 4.

According to HPR, Steele’s current time slot on HPR-2 (89.3 FM) along with a preceding encore broadcast of “Live from Here” will both be replaced with classical music programming from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturdays. Find updated program schedules online at hawaiipublicradio.org.

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