Grand Ole Opry Announcer Hal Durham Dies at 77

Hal Durham, a longtime Grand Ole Opry announcer who also served as its general manager for 15 years, died at his home in Cape Coral, Fla., over the weekend. He was 77. A native of McMinnville, Tenn., Durham started as an announcer on the radio program in 1964, then moved into the roles of WSM program director, Opry manager, and finally, Opry general manager from 1978 to 1993. Under his supervision, the Opry inducted members such as Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Reba McEntire and Ricky Skaggs. Durham is also credited with modernizing the Grand Ole Opry by allowing full drum sets to be brought on stage and by relaxing the attendance requirements of its members, so popular country artists could become members without having to appear several times a month.