Ralph Emery got his start with radio station WTPR in Paris, Tennessee in 1951, while earning a salary of $39.50 a week. By 1953 Emery was working for WSIX with shows on both radio and television in Nashville.
Emery has been in radio for 62 years and in television for 60 years and will be 80 on March 10 of this year.
I bought my first AM-FM radio stereo, which was about five feet wide in 1967 from Tony’s Appliance Center and I remember listening to Ralph Emery on WSM out of Nashville. I enjoyed the way he interviewed the country stars and played the great country songs of that era. It was like being in another world, when listening to the most famous country music disc jockey ever in Emery. He would work briefly in 1956 for WLCS in Shreveport, Louisiana, before returning to Nashville.
Moves to WSM Radio in 1957
When Emery was hired by WSM radio in Nashville it was a huge career advancement. He was now being heard on a 50,000 watt station, that reached many areas of the country. He worked the graveyard shift at WSM from 1957-1972.
Emery was seen on WSM-TV off and on from 1963-1991 on various country shows that he hosted. He also hosted a syndicated show named Pop Goes the Country.
He brought country music to the forefront when he hosted Nashville Now on the The Nashville Network from 1983-1993.
Nashville Now did more for country music, than any other television show before or since. Country music fans could see their favorite singers sing and be interviewed by the best country music host Ralph Emery. He was the glue that held the show together for 10 wonderful years.
One thing I will always remember is Randy Travis singing as Randy Ray on one show, then he appeared as Randy Travis the next time he appeared on Nashville Now. His real name is Randy Trawick, so finally settled on Randy Travis as his name.
Fans loved that the show was on five nights a week and gave them a chance to really know the singers, when they were interviewed by Emery. This show was a first class production with regular backup singers and musicians, which complemented the singing of the stars.
Emery Can Be Seen on RFD-TV
Ralph Emery started a new show Ralph Emery Live which started on the RFD television cable network in 2007.
For example last week T.G. Sheppard was on the show and Emery asked Sheppard about his days with the Memphis Mafia, that stayed at Graceland. Sheppard was then Bill Browder who worked promoting RCA artists. Elvis Presley was surprised to learn that Bill Browder was recording under the name of T.G. Sheppard. Elvis asked why he didn’t tell him and was told that Browder was afraid of being fired by RCA if the secret came out in the open. Elvis then says “I am RCA” inferring that Browder didn’t have a reason to worry about losing his job. Sheppard tells how he heard about the death of Elvis. He said he got a call from J.D. Sumner, which was unusual in itself, but he had an idea that Elvis had died and told Sumner he knew why he was calling.
Sheppard is then asked questions by viewers who call in to the show, which was interesting as they asked him what songs he liked the most, of the songs that he recorded.
You could tell Sheppard was in awe of Emery and knows what he did for the careers of many country music stars. From the graveyard shift on WSM radio to the television show on RFD TV Emery has been an ambassador for country music.
Have recorded the next show when Emery interviews Lorrie Morgan. In fact Lorrie owes a lot of her success to Emery who hosted a morning show in Nashville, in which Lorrie often sang.
Life has not always been a bed of roses for Emery, as he had a very rough childhood and entered the world of country music, to escape an unhappy situation at home. His marriage to Skeeter Davis who recorded The End of the World was a rocky one that ended in divorce. Emery has written his autobiography and other books about country music.
Ralph Emery to me epitomizes country music and what it stands for and he may be the best interviewer ever in any entertainment spectrum.
It would be 56 years after his first radio job, before Emery was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.