MINNEAPOLIS — Mandolinist Chris Thile of the band Punch Brothers says hosting “A Prairie Home Companion” is like “getting to be Luke Skywalker.”

Thile will substitute for “Prairie Home” host and creator Garrison Keillor on the public radio show Saturday and Feb. 14 from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.

“It’s an incredible honor. It’s a bone-chilling honor, like, a blood-curdling one,” Thile, 33, said Thursday, comparing it to trading shoes with the “Star Wars” protagonist.

A longtime “Prairie Home” fan, Thile was 15 when he made his first appearance on the show in 1996. He said he’s made 14 or 15 visits total. His Nickel Creek bandmate, singer and fiddler Sara Watkins, hosted in 2011.

Thile said Keillor told him to “just talk to the people. People love to be talked to.”

Punch Brothers will be one of the musical guests Saturday. With Keillor gone, there won’t be his signature “The News from Lake Wobegon” monologue, in which he recounts the quiet week in his fictional Minnesota hometown, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.” But there will be familiar hallmarks, including commercials for fake products such as Powdermilk Biscuits.

Keillor, 72, is on a West Coast tour of his one-man show.

“A Prairie Home Companion” is heard on 600 public radio stations across the U.S. has a weekly audience of nearly 4 million listeners.