Garrison Keillor reads the newspaper every day.
"I would walk a mile to get one," he says. "I would no sooner get my news from TV than I would buy bread at a gas station. As for radio, it has its merits, but you can't swat a fly with a radio."
So it seems only fitting that the best-selling humorist and host of National Public Radio's "A Prairie Home Companion" has extended his reach with a weekly newspaper column.
Dubbed "The Old Scout," a reference to Keillor's early, unsuccessful experience in the Scouting movement, the column made its debut in July. The Journal-World will begin carrying it Saturdays inside the Pulse section.
Each week, Keillor offers readers his take on current events, life in the Midwest and other topics. He hopes his humor column brings balance to the paper.
"If one reads the newspaper on certain days, one might come away with the feeling that the future of the human race is sort of hanging in the balance," he says. "The truth is that people get up in the morning and go to work, as they do day after day, and week after week. The traffic is still running and the kids are still in school learning the same things we learned, and things are actually pretty good. We're still having a pretty good life.
"A humor column can balance off against the high-pitched rhetoric, on both sides, that insists on an apocalyptic view of the world. There should be someone who is saying in effect: 'Life goes on, not all that different from how it has always been.'"
Best known as the host of "A Prairie Home Companion," heard weekly by more than 4 million listeners on public radio stations across the country, Keillor is also the author of more than a dozen books, including "Lake Wobegon Days," "The Book of Guys," "Love Me" and "Homegrown Democrat." For many years, he contributed casuals and "Talk of the Town" pieces to The New Yorker magazine, and, most recently, he's been an essayist for Time.
A profile in Time called Keillor "the funniest American writer still open for business," and the Washington Post described him as "a storytelling genius." Said the Houston Chronicle: "He's Will Rogers with grammar lessons, Aesop without the ax to grind, the common man's Moliere."
Keillor was born in Anoka, Minn., in 1942 and graduated from the University of Minnesota. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and daughter. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Jack's Auto Repair softball team and the Episcopal Church.
Keillor picks his column topics by reading the newspaper closely, "looking especially in the back pages, where we find social history and sociology, which is the really important stuff," he says.
"I want to be writing about ordinary things: raising children, romance, the workplace, school, all the things that people have in common. And winter - something that some of us have in common."
He views the column as a personal conversation with readers.
"The column is a letter," he says. "The reader is the friend whom I never met."