Long considered the dean of country music broadcasters, Ralph Emery was born in McEwen, Tennessee, on March 10, 1933. Emery began his broadcasting career in 1951 with a 15-minute newscast at Tennessee WTPR/Paris. From there, Emery moved to WNAH/Nashville and WAGG/Franklin, where he met and interviewed country musicians. Emery went on to work at stations in Nashville and Baton Rouge before joining Nashville powerhouse WSM in 1957 as host of Opry Star Spotlight.

It was during his 25 years at WSM that Emery found his true niche, as his literal open-door policy—combined with a relaxed and informal studio atmosphere—led some of country music’s biggest names to drop by his show for music and conversation. In 1961, Emery became an announcer for Nashville’s long-running musical showcase the Grand Ole Opry.

In 1972, Emery produced and hosted The Ralph Emery Show, a syndicated program of music and conversation that ran in various formats until 1995. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

Emery has also been a fixture on television, including a decade-long stint as host of the TNN series Nashville Now, which brought musicians together to talk and play in a relaxed setting reminiscent of Emery’s time at WSM.

Ralph Emery was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2010.