A Prairie Home Companion

Saturday 5:00PM-7:00PM

If you showed up on July 6, 1974, at the Janet Wallace Auditorium at Macalester College in Saint Paul and plunked down your $1 admission (50 cents for kids) to attend the very first broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, you were in select company. There were about 12 people in the audience. But those in attendance thought there were worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon, so Garrison Keillor and the APHC team went on to produce close to 500 live shows in the first 10 years alone. There were broadcasts from this venue and that, until March 4, 1978, when the show moved to The World Theater, a lovely, crumbling building that was one plaster crack away from the wrecking ball. (Now fully renovated and renamed The Fitzgerald, it is the show’s home base.)

In June of 1987, APHC ended for a while. Garrison thought it was a good idea at the time, but only two years later, the show was back, based in New York and called American Radio Company of the Air. But there’s no place like home. So in 1992, it was back to Minnesota and, soon after, back to the old name: A Prairie Home Companion.

There has been plenty of adventure in the past 30-plus years — broadcasts from Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany, Iceland and almost every one of the 50 states; wonderful performers, little-known and world-renowned; standing ovations and stares of bewilderment. We’ve missed planes, coped with lost luggage, dodged swooping bats and hungry mosquitoes, plodded through blizzards, and flown by the seat of our pants.

Today, A Prairie Home Companion is heard by 4 million listeners each week on more than 600 public radio stations, and abroad on America One and the Armed Forces Networks in Europe and the Far East. Garrison recalls, “When the show started, it was something funny to do with my friends, and then it became an achievement that I hoped would be successful, and now it’s a good way of life.”

A Prairie Home Companion is produced by Prairie Home Productions, and distributed nationwide by American Public Media. The program is underwritten by Ford and Holiday Vacations.

The treatment is called Fav-Afrique. It's the only anti-venom approved to neutralize the bites of 10 deadly African snakes, like spitting cobras, carpet vipers and black mambas. And the world's stockpiles of it are dwindling, Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday. The last batch expires next June.

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The massive numbers of people coming from Africa and the Middle East are already changing many places in Europe. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley takes us now to a provincial town in Austria that houses a refugee center.

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Seattle Public School teachers walked off the job today. It was supposed to be the first day of school.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What do we want?

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Fair contracts.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When do we want it?

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When Stephen Colbert takes over the Late Show tonight on CBS, he'll have a new partner in crime on stage: pianist Jon Batiste.

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The shootings on live TV of two young journalists last month highlighted, once again, the perils of dealing with potentially dangerous employees. Prior to the Roanoke, Va.-area attack, former employee and alleged shooter Vester Flanagan showed some violent tendencies at work. But it can be very difficult for employers to know when — and how — to step in.

In New York City, some 65,000 children have enrolled in Mayor Bill de Blasio's new, universal preschool program. To put that number in context, that's more than all the public school students — in all grades — in either Washington, D.C., or Boston. Free pre-K for all 4-year-olds was a key de Blasio campaign promise.

Going to college today is a very different experience than it once was. The cost has soared, and the great recession cut into many of the assets that were supposed to pay for it. This week All Things Considered is talking with young people — and in some cases their parents — about the value of school and about their choice of what kind of college to attend.

You see something happen each time you end up on Lamour Rogers' Washington, D.C., Metrorail train.

As Rogers' voice booms over the public address system, people look up from their phones and newspapers left behind by someone else. They make eye contact. They smile at each other.

NPR's Renita Jablonski met with Rogers to find out what is so special about his voice and where his enthusiasm comes from day in and day out.

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People in Denmark are throwing away much less food than they used to - 25 percent less according to recent numbers. Sidsel Overgaard reports one reason is Danes are becoming less intimidated by not-so-perfect food.

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At a bowling alley bar, The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges, sips a White Russian cocktail. The camera slowly pans over to a cowboy who orders a soft drink and offers up some wisdom:

"A wiser fella than myself once said, 'Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar, well, he eats you.' "

He's The Stranger in The Big Lebowski, played by Sam Elliott.

But before Elliott portrayed cowboys, he worked construction in Los Angeles. That's what launched his big break.

The phrase "papal encyclical" isn't one you'll commonly find in headlines in the secular world. But that's exactly where news of Pope Francis' 192-page letter on climate change landed in June.

The pope wrote that humans are responsible for climate change, urging all people to do a better job of caring for the environment — and his words resonated far beyond the church.

Ten years ago, actor Wendell Pierce went home for a vacation between recording seasons of the hit HBO show The Wire.

As he stepped off the plane in New Orleans, the airport was chaotic. A massive hurricane called Katrina was closing in on the city.

"I was telling my parents 'Nah, let's just ride it out. Let's just stay,' " Pierce tells NPR's Arun Rath. "I went out that Saturday night and I kind of bluffed my parents and said 'Well, if they make it a mandatory evacuation, we'll leave.'

"That Sunday morning they did, and that's when I knew it was serious."

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As the Ebola crisis raged in West Africa last year, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia of Boston University traveled to Sierra Leone several times. Together with many other American doctors, she served alongside local health workers in the city of Kenema.

This spring, back in the U.S., she learned something upsetting: Many of the local health workers in Kenema — people who had risked their lives on the front lines of Ebola treatment units — hadn't been paid for months.

On Stockton Street, in Compton, Calif., there's a small white stucco house with a chain-link fence and an old tree out front.

There's isn't a sign or plaque in the yard, and there aren't any tour groups taking photos. There's nothing here to indicate that this house, in this quiet neighborhood, was the childhood home of two of the best athletes of all time.

Long before the U.S. Open this week, before the Nike and Gatorade sponsorships and before the stardom, a young Venus and Serena Williams were given their first tennis rackets here.

If you've ever seen Jesse Eisenberg's byline in The New Yorker or on McSweeney's Internet Tendency and thought, "Wait, that Jesse Eisenberg?" — the answer is yes.

Eisenberg, best-known as an Oscar-nominated actor, is also a writer — the author of numerous plays and, now, a collection of comedy writing called Bream Gives Me Hiccups.

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Solitary confinement is a widely used — and controversial — practice in U.S. prisons. But this week, a landmark legal settlement between inmates and the state of California could mark a big step toward changing that situation.

Seeing no other options to help get her brother Abdullah's family out of Syria and to safety, Teema Kurdi sent him money to get them onto a smuggler's boat that would take them to Greece.

"We actually would say we encouraged them to go, because his brother made it, and there was no other hope," he told NPR's Rachel Martin in an emotional interview. "We don't see the war ending in Syria; life in Turkey is hopeless."

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The British prime minister today eased his position on admitting Syrian refugees to the United Kingdom. David Cameron spoke of Britain's moral responsibility.

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