Tom Keith, who fans of A Prairie Home Companion knew as the show’s sound guy, passed away Sunday, after collapsing at his Minnesota home. He was 64.
Minnesota Public Radio, which produces APHC along with American Public Media, reports that Keith started his relationship with host Garrison Keillor in 1976, when the two worked on MPR’s Morning Show.
“He could do anything. You would ask him to make a sound, and he could make that sound,” Dale Connelly, who hosted the Morning Show with Keith, told MPR. “Whatever I could imagine, he could make happen. … He brought things to life. It was amazing to watch.”
And there’s no better way to remember Keith than by seeing him in action. This video shows him along with Fred Newman. You’ll see Tom on the far left of your screen — the sound effects guy who uses props along with his voice:
Over at MPR’s News Cut blog, Bob Collins remembers Keith as a Minnesota staple. He describes the end of the Morning Show in Oct. 2008 as a moment “without equal” in the history of MPR:
I recall watching Tom in those last minutes, thinking, “man, he’s a stone.” He showed no particular emotion as the years of work ended, except when it was time to recognize other people, like producer Mike Pengra. Otherwise, it seemed like just another day at work for him.
I asked Mike for a memory to share today. “I’m not sure where to start. Except every one of them ends with a laugh. And that’s a good thing, right?” he said. “He was such a pro. Dale would write a script in the studio while the Morning Show was on the air, and give it to Tom. Tom would then pre-read it…maybe once, quietly. He rarely had any questions, even when Dale had a ‘new’ character in mind. Tom assumed the role immediately. His face and body language would change with each role and his timing was spot on. He’s the best in the business.”
Click over to the blog. Collins remembers Tom Keith with a heart-wrenching rendition of You Are My Sunshine.