Country Music Hall of Famer Ralph Emery Dies, the Country Music Community Reacts

Ralph Emery, known for hosting TNN's popular "Nashville Now," died Saturday at a Nashville-area hospital.

Walter Ralph Emery, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, National Radio Hall of Fame and a New York Times best-selling author, passed away Saturday while surrounded by his family at Tristar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville.

Emery was 88 years old.

A statement from Emery’s family said he “passed away peacefully” and had a “deep love for his family, his friends and his fans.”

“Ralph Emery’s impact in expanding country music’s audience is incalculable,” said Kyle Young, CEO, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “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 was born March 10, 1933, in McEwen, Tennessee. While his family was troubled, Emery found a measure of peace at his grandparents’ farm and later in a radio booth at various local radio stations.

Emery’s breakthrough career moment came in November of 1957 when he landed a job as the late-night host on Nashville’s WSM radio station. His informal conversation style and familial open door policy won the trust of country music’s elite.

He was an announcer on the Grand Ole Opry from 1961-1964, and he earned his first television show – the early-morning “Opry Almanac” in 1963 – on WSM-TV. He shifted to afternoons from 1966-1969 with “Sixteenth Avenue” and started his highly popular early morning “The Ralph Emery Show” in 1972. The show ran for 19 years. In addition, Emery hosted the nationally syndicated weekly TV series “Pop Goes the Country” from 1974 to 1980 and the Nashville Network’s primetime country music talk show “Nashville Now” from 1983 to 1993.

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