Host

  • Chris Thile Host
    Devin Pedde
    Chris Thile
    By the time Chris Thile turned 15, he had already been playing mandolin for a decade. He’d also started Nickel Creek with Sara and Sean Watkins, and released his first solo recording, 1994’s Leading Off. This Grammy winner and MacArthur Fellow teams up with numerous musicians in myriad styles and leads acoustic quintet Punch Brothers. His albums include Thanks for Listening (Nonesuch) 10 studio recordings originally written as Prairie Home Companion Songs of the Week. He is now in his second season hosting the show.

Performers

  • Serena Brook
    Nate Ryan
    Serena Brook
    Actress Serena Brook has appeared off-Broadway, on the national tour circuit, and on regional theater stages. In the Twin Cities, her work includes productions at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, 7th House Theater, the Guthrie Theater's Dowling Studio, and the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis. The Eagan, Minnesota, native is also a voice-over artist who can be heard on national and regional radio commercials.
  • Madison Cunningham
     
    Madison Cunningham
    From a musical family, Madison Cunningham first picked up a guitar when she was only seven. By the age of 12, the California native was singing in church, along with her four younger sisters. Now, less than a decade later, she has established herself as a solo singer-songwriter with a keen understanding of her craft. Her EP, Love, Lose, Remember, came out last year.
  • Richard Dworsky
     
    Richard Dworsky
    Richard Dworsky, Live from Here's keyboardist, composer, arranger, and music director, has collaborated with diverse musicians -- from Yo-Yo Ma and James Taylor to Brad Paisley and Kristin Chenoweth. For 23 years, he served as pianist and music director for Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. Rich has also provided music for documentaries on HBO and PBS, and has released many recordings of original material, including his latest, All In Due Time.
  • Chris Eldridge
     
    Chris Eldridge
    Maybe it's the gene pool: Chris Eldridge's father was a founding member of the Seldom Scene, a group that guitarist Chris would join after earning a degree in music performance from Oberlin. He went on to start a bluegrass band, the Infamous Stringdusters, and later to critical acclaim with Punch Brothers. Mount Royal, his 2017 duo album with guitarist Julian Lage, is nominated for a Grammy Award (Best Contemporary Instrumental Album).
  • Mike Elizondo
     
    Mike Elizondo
    Musician, songwriter, and Grammy-nominated producer Mike Elizondo is best known for his 11-year collaboration with Dr. Dre, as well as for co-writing Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady," Carrie Underwood's "Cowboy Casanova," and 50 Cent's "In Da Club." In course of his career, he has contributed to albums for artists across a wide range of genres, including Jay Z, Fiona Apple, Maroon 5, Mary J. Blige, Ry Cooder, Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton, and myriad others. He is currently Senior Vice President of A&R for Warner Bros. Records.
  • Brittany Haas
     
    Brittany Haas
    At 14, fiddler Brittany Haas began touring with Darol Anger's Republic of Strings. Now Anger says: "Britt opens the window, gets out of the way, and the music floods through in a tide of joy." The California-born Princeton University grad has performed with a number of bands, including Crooked Still and Hawktail (with bassist Paul Kowert, guitarist Jordan Tice, and mandolinist Dominick Leslie). Among her recordings is 2014's You Got This (Haas Kowert Tice).
  • Alan Hampton
     
    Alan Hampton
    Multi-instrumentalist Alan Hampton began his music career in Houston, Texas. He continued at New York City's New School and then at the Thelonious Monk Institute in L.A. He has performed internationally with Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Wayne Shorter, and more. In addition to laying down tracks for numerous musicians, Alan's own recordings include Origami for the Fire (Ash Productions).
  • Sarah Jarosz
     
    Sarah Jarosz
    Sarah Jarosz is a gifted multi-instrumentalist (mandolin, octave mandolin, guitar, banjo), an expressive and distinctive vocalist, and an accomplished songwriter. The New England Conservatory of Music grad has carved out a solid niche where contemporary folk, Americana, and roots music intersect. She's been nominated for multiple Grammys, including two for her album Build Me Up From Bones. And her recording Undercurrent (Sugar Hill) took the Grammy for Best Folk Album and Best American Roots Performance ("House of Mercy").
  • Paul Kowert
     
    Paul Kowert
    At age three, Paul Kowert started on violin, but by fourth grade he'd taken up bass, and he later graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music. Now this Wisconsin-raised, Nashville-based musician is a member of Punch Brothers and has toured with Mike Marshall's Big Trio and Dave Rawlings Machine. His American roots quartet Hawktail includes mandolinist Dominick Leslie, fiddler Brittany Haas, and guitarist Jordan Tice. Their new album comes out soon.
  • Julian Lage
     
    Julian Lage
    The New York Times has called Julian Lage "one of jazz's breezier virtuosos, possessed of an unflappable technical facility and a seemingly boundless curiosity." A former child prodigy, the California-born, New York-based guitarist boasts a resume that an artist twice his age would be proud to claim. In addition to his many collaborations, Julian has released three albums as leader, most recently 2016's Arclight. Mount Royal (Free Dirt Records) -- his duo album with guitarist Chris Eldridge -- earned a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.
  • Gaby Moreno
     
    Gaby Moreno
    Guatemalan-born Gaby Moreno was singing even before she could talk. With a style that blends blues, jazz, soul, and R&B, the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter received an Emmy nomination for co-writing the theme song for NBC's Parks and Recreation. And she took Best New Artist honors at the 2013 Latin Grammys. She writes in both Spanish and English. "Spanish is more poetic," she says, but "in English, you can describe things better." Her latest album, 2016's Ilusion (Universal Music), earned a Latin Grammy nomination.
  • Fred Newman
     
    Fred Newman
    Sound effects man Fred Newman is an actor, writer, musician, and sound designer for film and TV. Turns out, no one is more surprised than Fred that he's made a career out of doing what he used to do behind the teacher's back --crossing his eyes, making sounds, and doing voices. He readily admits that, growing up, he was unceremoniously removed from several classrooms, "once by my bottom lip."
  • Aoife O'Donovan
     
    Aoife O'Donovan
    With her ethereal voice and substantive songwriting, Aoife O'Donovan captivates fans and critics alike. She was lead singer of the string band Crooked Still and a featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, the Grammy-winning album by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. Her own recordings include Man In A Neon Coat: Live From Cambridge. Along with Sarah Jarosz and Sara Watkins, Aoife performs as I'm With Her, whose first full-length album, See You Around, is due out in February.
  • Ted Poor
     
    Ted Poor
    "Adventurous, truly dynamic, and forward-thinking drumming," said Modern Drummer magazine of Ted Poor. An in-demand session player and sideman, this Eastman School of Music alum has toured worldwide with various bands, and he is currently an Artist in Residence at the University of Washington, Seattle. For the past few years, Ted has been a member of Andrew Bird's band and appears on Bird's 2016 release, Are You Serious.
  • Tim Russell
     
    Tim Russell
    Mild-mannered Tim Russell one minute -- Obama, Trump, or myriad others the next. It's almost impossible to stump this "man of a thousand voices." A longtime radio personality (veteran of WDBQ in Dubuque, WCCO and KJJO in the Twin Cities, in addition to his decades-long Prairie Home stint), Tim appeared in the Robert Altman film A Prairie Home Companion and the Coen brothers' A Serious Man.
  • Punch Brothers
    MPR / Nate Ryan
    Punch Brothers violinist Gabe Witcher, bassist Paul Kowert and guitarist Chris Eldridge performing live in The Current studio
    Violinist Gabe Witcher was barely school age when Bill Monroe invited him on stage to play a duet at a festival workshop. Gabe has been wowing crowds ever since, whether with the Witcher Brothers, the Laurel Canyon Ramblers, or Punch Brothers. In addition, Gabe is a sought-after producer, arranger, and session player, working with artists from Paul Simon and Elton John to Rosanne Cash and Willie Nelson.

Writers

  • Benjamin Apple
     
    Benjamin Apple
    Benjamin Apple is a writer, director, and actor from Philadelphia who has been creating comedy in New York and Los Angeles since 2009. Benjamin has written for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Onion, and Upright Citizens Brigade sketch teams. He co-produces UCB’s annual Movie Cram, and has produced and directed multiple original web series, including the LA Times TV Pick Cubed for Broadway Video’s Above Average Web channel.
  • Rachel Axler
     
    Rachel Axler
    Rachel Axler is a four-time Emmy Award-winning writer, currently working on HBO’s Veep. In the past, she’s written for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Parks and Recreation, How I Met Your Mother, Childrens Hospital, and several other awesome shows, but APHC is by far the job that impressed her mom the most. She’s so thrilled to be a part of this venerable institution and family.
  • Patrick Clair
     
    Patrick Clair
    Patrick Clair is a writer, actor, improviser, and teacher. He’s been writing and performing live comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York since 2006. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and plants. 
  • Andrew Lee
     
    Andrew Lee
    Andrew Lee is a writer and sometimes performer living in Los Angeles. After graduating college, he jump started his writing career by working as a budget analyst for the New York City government for over six years. He has written for the NBC Scene Showcase, won the half-hour spec category for Final Draft’s Big Break contest, and also was lucky enough to win a couple games on Jeopardy!
  • Tom Papa
     
    Tom Papa
    With more than 20 years as a stand-up comedian, writer and actor, Tom Papa has found success in film, television, radio, as well as on the live stage. This season he adds ‘Head Writer of His Favorite Radio Show of All Time’ to his resume.
  • Sean Tejaratchi
     
    Sean Tejaratchi
    Sean Tejaratchi was born in California and has lived in towns as varied as Portland, Oregon. In addition to writing, he’s a graphic designer of books, postcards, LPs, and many more things that fail to promptly come to mind. This next part has absolutely nothing to do with anything. It is here merely to fill up space. Still, it is words, rather than repeated letters, since the latter might not give the proper appearance, namely, that of an actual bio. His zine, Crap Hound, exists, and his website, LiarTownUSA, is enjoyed by many dozens around the world. Sean currently lives in Los Angeles.
  • Mark Vigeant
     
    Mark Vigeant
    Mark Vigeant is a comedian, writer, director, and performer in New York City. His work has been featured on The A.V. Club, Fusion, Nerdist, The Huffington Post, and Funny or Die and he is a former staff writer and performer at Seriously.tv.

Staff

  • Debra Beck
    Debra Beck
    On any given day, you may find Debra Beck making travel plans for A Prairie Home Companion's staff, arranging catering for upcoming shows, or seeing to hotel reservations for performers. Being in charge of logistics means mowing down a zillion details for each week's program. It's challenging to keep up with all her interests: gardening, traveling, hiking, reading, rock climbing, dancing, the list goes on. She grew up in Sabin, Minnesota — near Fargo — and attended St. Olaf College and the University of Minnesota. Before joining the APHC staff, she had been a faithful listener to the show since its very early days.
  • Joy Biles
    Joy Biles
    Joy Biles grew up in a military family that moved around a lot, mostly to sunny locales like Florida and Hawaii. She took a cross-country road trip in her 20s, and after visiting a friend who'd moved to Minneapolis, she decided to hang around for a few weeks—and ended up staying for the next decade. An English major, she spends most of her time doing everything from writing, research, editing, production assistance, and her favorite: searching for poems she hopes fans of The Writer's Almanac will will enjoy. On her own time, you'll find her walking her dogs, making big pots of soup, camping, or writing little stories.
  • Theresa Burgess
    Theresa Burgess
    Theresa Burgess grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota, listening to A Prairie Home Companion with her family Saturday nights. She joined Prairie Home in 2005 after attending the University of Minnesota Duluth, and has since graduated with a Masters degree in Business Administration from St. Thomas. Whether assisting listeners, doing research, maintaining office harmony, or seeing to travel, shipping and archiving projects, Theresa's job is always an adventure. She currently lives in Minneapolis with her husband, dog, and daughters.
  • Maddie Calhoon
     
    Maddie Calhoon
    Maddie Calhoon hails from Madison, Wisconsin, and spent many hours as a child listening to APHC with her parents. She moved to the Twin Cities in 2010 to attend the Master of Social Work program at the University of Minnesota. In a strange twist of fate, the windy path brought her to the doorstep of Prairie Home. Today she spends most of her time in the office searching for writers, coordinating the writing team, doing research, and making more coffee. Outside of the office, you might find her out enjoying live music or dancing the Lindy. She also continues to practice social work part-time.
  • Kate Gustafson Sanderson
    Kate Gustafson Sanderson
    In 1986, Kate Gustafson Sanderson was laid off from a position as an elementary school music teacher. So what if she could barely type, she managed to land an office assistant gig with A Prairie Home Companion. Turned out to be a really good hire for Prairie Home. These days, Kate is managing director for Prairie Home Productions, where she oversees the business operations of APHC, The Writer's Almanac, APHC Cruises, Common Good Books and related ventures. When she's not keeping show budgets on track, working on product development, and mowing down myriad details, Kate is caring for her family — a teenage daughter, two stepdaughters and husband Brian — running after her pets, playing organ in her church, and entertaining fantasies of cloning herself.
  • Sam Hudson
    Sam Hudson
    While other little kids were playing cops and robbers, Sam Hudson spent childhood days tinkering with tape recorders, pretending that he worked at a radio station, or listening to the mix on his dad's Frank Sinatra and Stan Kenton LPs. By the time he hit junior high, he was running the sound equipment at church and for school music events and friends' bands. He's still at it. For many years, he operated his own recording studio, where he produced radio and TV commercials and a slew of CDs. And since the early 1990s, he has worked as an audio engineer for A Prairie Home Companion. In addition to his broadcast engineering duties, Sam researches and scouts out performers to appear on each week's show.
  • Janis Kaiser
    Janis Kaiser
    Back in her PS 127 days, Janis Kaiser had the starring role (princess) in her 4th-grade play, and classmate Lorraine Bracco had to settle for a supporting part (court jester). Lorraine now has The Sopranos on her résumé, and Janis is still a star — a behind-the-scenes star — as lighting designer for A Prairie Home Companion's New York runs and when the show is on the road. She's been with APHC since 1990. Born and raised in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Janis has stayed pretty close to her roots. She attended Brooklyn College and now makes her home in Rowayton, Connecticut. Weekdays, she works in administration at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company in Stamford, Connecticut. In her free time, she and her husband, Kevan, are apt to be sailing on Long Island Sound.
  • Ben Miller
    Ben Miller
    New website features, videos and updates from the latest broadcast, social media posts, even the code that displays the text you're reading right now — if it's APHC- or The Writer's Almanac-related and online, Ben Miller probably had something to do with it. He grew up in Anoka, graduated from the University of Minnesota, and worked at a Minneapolis marketing agency for several years before joining the Prairie Home staff. When he's not obsessively reading the internet (there's a lot to read), you might find him singing and playing guitar in various bands around the Twin Cities.
  • David O'Neill
    David O'Neill
    Before David O'Neill had reached his teens, he was working pledge drives at Minnesota Public Radio. Soon he was doing odd jobs for A Prairie Home Companion — sweeping the theater, selling APHC products in the lobby. Then Ray Marklund, a beloved old stagehand who took photos at rehearsals, handed young David a camera and said, "Here, you take shots. I'm tired of running around." "He wasn't really tired," David recalls, "just giving a kid a break — a reason to be backstage." O'Neill continued to work part time for MPR until his graduation from the University of Minnesota, then full time as the company's historian and archivist, and in managerial positions, including the design manager for MPR's new headquarters. Today, he is APHC's marketing director, serving as media contact and liaison to the 500-plus stations that carry the show.
  • Thomas Scheuzger
    Thomas Scheuzger
    While Technical Director Thomas Scheuzger has roots in the Chicago area, he spent years in Boston, graduating with honors from Berklee College of Music (a degree in music production and engineering). He was director of audio facilities at the New England Conservatory of Music, before returning to Chicago to freelance as an engineer and studio technician. After meeting Andrea, the Minnesota woman who would become his wife, he followed his heart north in 2002. At the show, Thomas works with Sam Hudson, mixing the live broadcast and making certain that APHC's broadcast signal gets from the show's various venues to the control center in St. Paul, where it is distributed through American Public Media. He is also technical director for The Writer's Almanac.
  • Kathryn Slusher
    Kathryn Slusher
    Kathryn Slusher oversees the extensive library of music performed during Prairie Home Companion's 42- plus years. She does a lot of research, sees to songwriter royalties and music credits, and is busy backstage with production of the music segments on the show. She assists Chris Thile, Richard Dworsky, and musical guests on the live show each week, and curates the weekly classic rebroadcasts of the show hosted by Garrison Keillor. Kathryn makes her home in Minneapolis, where she and her husband Tim are the proud parents of two children.
  • Originally from South Dakota, Noah Smith attended Minnesota State University in Moorhead, studying the music industry — with an emphasis on audio production and engineering. After graduation, he interned with Hest & Kramer, a music studio that creates soundtracks for TV and radio commercials. There he helped design and build — of all things — robot actors. Since he signed on with A Prairie Home Companion, Noah has had an ever-evolving stack of tasks on his plate, from keeping up-to-date archives of APHC and The Writer's Almanac to making dubs of the programs for guest performers. In his time off, you're likely to find him in his home recording studio, where he mixes music for local bands.
  • Albert Webster
    Albert Webster
    Attend a Prairie Home tour show, and you may notice the guy who occasionally shows up onstage to help guide events along. That's Stage Manager Albert Webster. He arranges production needs in advance and then tours with the show to supervise the local crew, load the truck, set up the band, and help people on and off stage. During the week he helps choose and contract our tour sites and helps manage our cruises. He's worked in professional theater since 1985, including positions with the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Playwrights Horizons in New York, and the Ordway Music Theater in St. Paul. Albert and his wife Kris live in the University City area of St. Louis. Their daughter attends Grinnell College where she studies math we don't understand, stage manages for a dance professor, and builds scenery. Their youngest son is about done with his high school career which includes soccer, performing in plays and musicals, and choir.