PRESCOTT, Ariz. >> Former radio host Garrison Keillor said he hopes the sexual allegations against him are fading and believes Minnesota Public Radio made a grave mistake when it cut its ties with him.
Keillor’s comments followed his first appearance before an audience since the controversy erupted in November, The Daily Courier in Prescott, Arizona, reported.
During the Wednesday night show at Yavapai College in Prescott, the ex-host of the once popular “A Prairie Home Companion” joked about how the allegations against him must have been contagious in light of other scandals involving former Rep. Al Franken, Charlie Rose and Harvey Weinstein.
He said the controversy made him appreciate his friends.
“In the newspaper, they refer to you as a disgraced broadcaster. They refer to this as a scandal, but your true friends, and you don’t need that many of them, but you find out for absolute sure who they are in the first two weeks after all of this happens,” he said.
Keillor said after the show the charges emerged from an adolescent type of flirtation that ended in 2015. Keillor said that following his 2016 retirement, the person he was alleged to have harassed got a job as a school teacher after he wrote a letter of recommendation.
Keillor said that since November, he’s written a western play, a Lake Wobegon screenplay and a novella called “Unseemly Behavior,” based on events surrounding the harassment allegations.
MPR announced in November it would stop distributing Keillor’s program “The Writer’s Almanac” and would no longer rebroadcast “The Best of A Prairie Home Companion.”
During an extensive interview with the Associated Press last month, Keillor described several sexually suggestive emails he exchanged with a former researcher who accused him of sexual misconduct as “romantic writing” that never resulted in a physical relationship.
He also rejected the idea that because he was her boss, and the driving force of a hugely popular radio program, it could be interpreted as sexual harassment.
The woman responded to the AP via her attorney and said that Keillor’s power over her job made her afraid to say no to him. The Associated Press does not typically name alleged victims of sexual harassment unless they have chosen to go public.
The 75-year-old Keillor told the AP that he never had a sexual relationship with the woman, a freelance contributor to the show at the time.
He also downplayed his power over the woman by portraying himself as uninvolved in the mundane operations of the radio show he created nearly a half-century ago and built into a powerhouse that attracted millions of listeners nationwide each Saturday evening.
MPR spokeswoman Angie Andresen said after the AP interview that it stands by its handling of the claims against Keillor.