A Prairie Home Companion broadcasts from Spokane June 27, 1998

Guest pianist/clarinetist Butch Thompson warms up with violinist/arranger Andy Stein, guitarist Pat Donohue, and bassist Greg Hippen.
Credit Spokane Public Radio

At 3 p.m. on June 27, all 2800 people inside the Spokane Opera House sat silently. The stage manager pointed, the "On Air" light hanging from a lamppost gleams from a semi-darkened stage.
Rich Dworsky tinkled on a piano, clarinetist Butch Thompson blew an embellishment, and Garrison Keillor sang, "I smell the lilacs, I look around for you." And thus the live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion beamed from downtown Spokane to the world.

Sound effects master Tom Keith makes sure the electronic buzzer, "telephone" cup, "crashing tree" styrofoam plate, and other sound props are ready to go.
Credit Spokane Public Radio

The live broadcast was a first for Spokane Public Radio. It required months of planning, three days of technical work, and two very busy days of script writing, music rehearsals, and read throughs.

Later in the live broadcast, Keillor told millions of listeners about Hoopfest (as he wore a Hoopfest T-shirt under his usual tuxedo jacket) Bloomsday, the Spokane Falls, and other highlights of the Inland Northwest. Pauline Flett of the Spokane Tribe told the traditional story of the coming of the salmon in the Salish language while Garrison read the English translation. Spokane photographer Don Hamilton gave Garrison an earful about the region.

A Prairie Home Companion is distributed by American Public Media. Thanks to regional event donors Walgreens, RXpress, and Washington Water Power.

Fans filled the Spokane Opera House seats -- including a handful on stage -- for both the live broadcast and a second show added to Saturday evening. During that second show, Garrison had the entire audience stand for a sing-along.
Credit Janean Jorgensen / Spokane Public Radio