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Mandolin whiz Thile brings younger crowd to ‘Prairie Home’

December 8, 2016
FILE - In this April 5, 2016 file photo, Chris Thile plays his mandolin on stage at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn. Thile says he still feels “like a kid in a candy store” taking over as host of the long-running public radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.” Thile was chosen by creator Garrison Keillor to replace him on the Saturday evening show. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
FILE - In this April 5, 2016 file photo, Chris Thile plays his mandolin on stage at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn. Thile says he still feels “like a kid in a candy store” taking over as host of the long-running public radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.” Thile was chosen by creator Garrison Keillor to replace him on the Saturday evening show. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Mandolin whiz Chris Thile (THEEL’-ee) says he still feels “like a kid in a candy store” taking over as host of the long-running public radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.”

The 35-year-old Thile was chosen by creator Garrison Keillor to replace him on the Saturday-evening show. Thile began his first season of 13 shows in October and is drawing musical guests such as Jack White, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio and singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.

But the energetic Thile says he knows he can be “so much more of a relaxed host.”

“Prairie Home” was drawing more than 3 million listeners weekly when Keillor stepped down this summer. Thile’s audience is projected at more than 2 million.

Thile hopes to do 26 shows next season, closer to what Keillor would do.

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