'Prairie Home Companion' Sound Effects Man Dies

Robert Siegel remembers the legendary sound effects work of Tom Keith, the man who provided much of the comedy in the sketches on public radio's Prairie Home Companion. He was 64.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host: Public Radio has lost one if its most remarkable voices. Tom Keith died yesterday. And if you don't recognize his name, you may still recognize his sounds.

(SOUNDBITE OF A DOG AND CHICKEN)

SIEGEL: For decades, Tom Keith provided the ambient life behind Garrison Keillor's voice on "A Prairie Home Companion."

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION")

GARRISON KEILLOR: I'm going to be attending Tom Keith's sound effects camp at Lake Piscacadawadaquoddymoggin, the same where Pat Donohue is there with the campers.

TOM KEITH: (Singing)

KEILLOR: Just down the road, Tom has his camp and trains young people in the craft of sound effects, starting out with simple things like kitty cats...

(SOUNDBITE OF A CAT)

KEILLOR: ...horses...

(SOUNDBITE OF A HORSE)

KEILLOR: ...helicopters he does too.

(SOUNDBITE OF A HELICOPTER IMITATION)

KEILLOR: He goes and does elephants (unintelligible).

(SOUNDBITE OF AN ELEPHANT)

KEILLOR: Does elk and...

(SOUNDBITE OF AN ELK)

KEILLOR: ...wapiti and...

(SOUNDBITE OF AN ELK)

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KEILLOR: (Unintelligible) and...

(SOUNDBITE OF AN ELK)

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KEILLOR: ...caribou...

(SOUNDBITE OF AN ELK)

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KEILLOR: Right, OK. Good. Thanks.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIEGEL: The incredible sound effects of Tom Keith, as heard back in July 2001. Keith died last night at his home in Minnesota. He was 64.

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