WLT: A Radio Romance

( 2 )


In the spring of 1926, the Soderbjerg brothers, Ray and Roy, plunge into radio and launch station WLT (With Lettuce and Tomato) to rescuer their failing restaurant and become the Sandwich Kings of South Minneapolis. For the next quarter century, the “Friendly Neighbor” station produces a dazzling array of shows and stars, including Leo LaValley, Dad Benson, Wingo Beals, Slim Graves and Little Buddy, chain-smoking child star Marjery Moore, and blind baseball announcer Buck ...

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WLT: A Radio Romance

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In the spring of 1926, the Soderbjerg brothers, Ray and Roy, plunge into radio and launch station WLT (With Lettuce and Tomato) to rescuer their failing restaurant and become the Sandwich Kings of South Minneapolis. For the next quarter century, the “Friendly Neighbor” station produces a dazzling array of shows and stars, including Leo LaValley, Dad Benson, Wingo Beals, Slim Graves and Little Buddy, chain-smoking child star Marjery Moore, and blind baseball announcer Buck Steller.

Francis With, a shy young man from North Dakota, entranced by radio, gets into WLT through his uncle Art and quickly becomes the Soderbjerg's right hand. Soon Francis is a budding announcer adored by Lily Dale, the crippled nightingale of WLT kept hidden from her fans, whose firing contributes to the downfall of the station. And then comes television.

From the creator of "A Prairie Home Companion" and bestselling author of Lake Wobegon Days comes the trade paper edition of the hilariously bawdy novel that is "irresistibly delicious . . . a satisfying romp with a yarnmaster who can make you howl" (Los Angeles Times Book Review). In the spring of 1926, the Soderbjerg brothers plunge into broadcasting to rescue their failing restaurant and go on to make radio history over the next quarter century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Mr. Keillor is at his best…. Every bit of his huge storytelling talent is here,” —The Washington Post

“Irresistibly delicious…a satisfying romp with a yarnmaster who can make you howl.” —The Los Angeles Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
On the air and in print, Keillor has been telling wonderful stories for years, but this is his first novel. It is, as you might expect, brimful of characters, full of northwoods angst, spiced with a little sex, and cynicism and sentiment have been neatly interwoven. It is the story of a Minneapolis radio station from its launch by the Soderbjerg brothers, Ray and Roy, who hope to attract attention to their foundering sandwich shop (the call sign translates to ``with lettuce and tomato''), to the time, 30 years later, when it begins to founder under the onslaught of television. Dozens of innocent and not-so-innocent girls and scheming, heavy-drinking men live out their lives among its studios and microphones: one of Keillor's most cunning strokes is to saunter back and forth between the realm of the radio and the real world of his performers, including boozy gospel singers, saintly Dad Benson and his horrendous radio daughter, and smart young Frank White, who alone makes the transition to TV. Episodic, often absurd, frequently uproarious, it is a poignant reminder of a time that never was but probably should have been. 250,000 first printing; $300,000 ad/promo; first serial to the New Yorker; BOMC featured alternate. (Nov.)
The novel upon which Keillor has worked over the last 15 years. A treasure for his myriad fans. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
The glory days of Midwest radio prove the ideal subject for old radio-hand Keillor, now writing at the height of his awesome power, which could make a homesick cat laugh. Brothers Ray and Roy Soderbjerg set up station WLT (With Lettuce and Tomato) in Minneapolis in 1926 to draw crowds to their wilting sandwich restaurant. The station proves a gold mine after the two reluctantly agree to allow commercials, and the brothers turn their somewhat divided attention (Ray's chief vocation is sex, Roy's inventing the unnecessary) to the new medium. The novel takes off on a sustained joyride as a hilarious bunch of characters are hired to fill the air with the cornball, pseudo-pious, pseudo- populist fare that held the Midwest in thrall until television offered a superior snow job. Keillor continually contrasts the smutty, lust-filled lives of the cast and crew in the studio with the wholesome, homespun drivel they broadcast. On air, for example, Little Becky is a winsome angel, but look out—the chain-smoking child star will perform the crudest of practical jokes on the unwary. A blind sports announcer, a crushingly cheerful songstress confined to her wheelchair by polio and fat, and a dissolute group of gospel singers are just some of the superb oddities that people Keillor's pages. A straight man to these comic figures and the novel's hero is young Francis With, who comes of age at the station and goes on to great things. The comedy is as broad as it comes, but it also has a depth that includes poignancy, particularly as it records the station's downhill slide. Humor and insight into the heart of raunchy America don't get any better than this.
From Barnes & Noble
In this novel, a signed edition, Keillor explores the endearing idiosyncrasies of the folks at Minneapolis radio station WLT, examining the weird goings-on in snakebit Studio B and the off-beat programs that characterized the station. Slipcased. Limited Quantity |
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140103809
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 822,275
  • Product dimensions: 5.28 (w) x 7.88 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Garrison Keillor

GARRISON KEILLOR is America’s favorite storyteller. For more than 35 years, as the host of A Prairie Home Companion, he has captivated millions of listeners with his weekly News from Lake Wobegon monologues. A Prairie Home Companion is heard on hundreds of public radio stations, as well as America One, the Armed Forces Networks, Sirius Satellite Radio, and via a live audio webcast. 
Keillor is also the author of several books and a frequent contributor to national publications including Time, The New Yorker, and National Geographic, in addition to writing his own syndicated column. He has been awarded a National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment of the Humanities. When not touring, he resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Garrison Keillor is the author of thirteen books, including Lake Wobegon Summer 1956, Wobegon Boy, and Lake Wobegon Days. From 1999-2001, Keillor wrote a column "Dear Mr. Blue: Advice for Lovers and Writers" on Salon.com. Keillor's popular Saturday-night public radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, is in its twenty-seventh season. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and daughter.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Gary Edward Keillor (real name)
      Garrison Keillor
    2. Hometown:
      St. Paul, Minnesota
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 7, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Anoka, Minnesota
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Minnesota, 1966

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2015

    In which Mr. Midwest gets to say nasty things

    If you know him from the radio show, odds are good you will strongly dislike this book. He does have a FCC to worry about and takes full advantage of this fact.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2008

    Mike an avid reader and book collector

    I've never read anything by this author and don't know why I read this, but I'm glad I did. This is laugh-out-loud funny! A warm and charming book with great characters you love, even the bad ones. A great book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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