Country Music Broadcasting Legend Ralph Emery Dead at 88

by Jonathan Howard

One of Nashville’s most legendary figures, Ralph Emery, has passed away at the age of 88, according to his family.

Emery, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, spent the better part of six decades in broadcasting. From radio to television, there are few media figures that left a mark on the genre of country music as he did.

The Nashville Now host “passed away peacefully,” his family said in a statement. He was at Tristar Centennial Medical Center surrounded by family on Saturday morning. Born and raised in Tennessee, Emery represented the best of the state throughout his career.

Starting in 1955, Ralph Emery started his broadcast career in Paris, Tennessee. The job at WTPR soon led to a job at Nashville’s WSM in 1957. It wasn’t long before the folks around the business knew that Emery would be a big star.

Not only did Emery receive recognition from country music with his Hall of Fame induction in 2007, but he was also inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. That honor came in 2010. His work spanned many decades, and there were many generations of country music fans not just in Tennessee but across the country that eagerly awaited his programs on radio and TV.

The Legacy of Ralph Emery

During his broadcast career, Ralph Emery was noted for his interview skills. When he sat down with country music stars, he was able to get the most out of the time, asking questions that probed at the personal side of artists.

For that, and so much more, Emery is going to be missed by country music fans. A true Nashville icon. Kyle Young, the CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, released a statement shortly after the news broke of Emery’s death.

“Ralph Emery’s impact in expanding country music’s audience is incalculable,” said Young. “On radio and on television, he allowed fans to get to know the people behind the songs. Ralph was more a grand conversationalist than a calculated interviewer, and it was his conversations that revealed the humor and humanity of Tom T. Hall, Barbara Mandrell, Tex Ritter, Marty Robbins, and many more. Above all, he believed in music and in the people who make it.”

Emery and his radio broadcasts could be heard throughout the country. WSM had a clear-channel range which meant each night almost half of the country could tune into his radio show. He debuted the best of country music and was especially popular with truck drivers that spent long nights out on the road.

Most importantly, Ralph Emery will be missed by his friends, family, and loved ones. He is survived by his wife, Joy Emery, along with his three sons, five grandchildren, as well as seven great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not been announced at this time.