“Live From Here With Chris Thile,” the weekly radio show that began as a continuation of “A Prairie Home Companion” before taking on its own name and identity, has been canceled, American Public Media Group announced Tuesday.
The St. Paul-based company blamed the economic effects of the COVID-19 for that and other cuts that resulted in 28 employees being let go.
Thile, the dexterously multitalented member of the Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek who took over “Prairie Home Companion” from Garrison Keillor in 2016, tweeted about the end of his four-year run as host.
“Not one live broadcast has gone by where I didn’t thank my absurdly lucky stars for your wide open ears and hearts,” Thile wrote. “Over the weekend, I was informed that American Public Media will no longer be producing the show. While this news fills me with sadness, I understand the decision, as my extraordinary teammates and I conceived of ‘Live From Here’ as a celebration of live, collaborative audible art, and there’s just no telling when it could be that again.”
Tweeted singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, “Truly enjoyed appearing on this show, and Chris Thile is one of the most brilliant and hardworking musicians on the planet. Hate to see it go.”
“Live From Here” was produced in a concert setting in cities around the country, as Keillor’s show had been before it. During the quarantine, Thile had continued hosting new editions of the show with remote contributions, the last of which, apparently unbeknown to him at the time, was this past weekend, with Rufus Wainwright and the War & Treaty among the musical guests. Other recent shows had featured artists from the Pixies to Paul Simon, along with Wilco, Norah Jones, Common, Aoife O’Donovan and Big Thief.
Thile always took a huge role in the show, beyond hosting, with an opening monolog always ending in a topical new “song of the week,” and a “birthdays” segment that had the house band doing proficiently arranged covers of the music of birthday boys and girls ranging from the classical greats to contemporary hip-hop artists.
American Public Media Group, which also produces shows like “Marketplace” and “The Current,” addressed the layoffs and cancellations in a statement, citing effects of the pandemic on their business that included lost corporate donations and underwriting. “Eliminating jobs was an agonizing decision,” he said. “We are saying goodbye to talented and dedicated colleagues. We are grateful for their energy, their skills and the passion they’ve brought to our organization, and we are doing everything we can to support our departing colleagues in this challenging environment.”
Also canceled was the podcast “The Hilarious World of Depression,” hosted by John Moe.
When Thile assumed the reigns of “Prairie Home” in 2016, the format stayed somewhat the same, but with the emphasis more on music than skits or monologs. In 2017, as former host Keillor was embroiled in a harassment scandal, the decision was made to change the name of the series. By 2019, all the former cast members and musicians had been let go as Thile’s stamp on the show became complete, although a sketch comedy element always remained as a residual reminder of Keillor’s long tenure.
Thile and his fans have other things to look forward to this week, in lieu of a new episode of “Live From Here.” An album he recorded as part of a quartet with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan and Edgar Meyer, “Not Our First Goat Rodeo,” comes out Friday on Sony Masterworks. The all-star quartet’s earlier album, 2011’s “The Goat Rodeo Sessions”), debuted at No. 1 on the classical, classical crossover and bluegrass charts.