Ralph Emery Interview

On November 6th, 2010 at the WTTW Studios in Chicago, Country Stars Central had the great privilege of attending the annual Radio Hall of Fame reception and awards show which honored legendary Country Music personality and broadcasting pioneer Ralph Emery!

 

As an added bonus to the already magical evening, Country Music superstar Reba McEntire flew all the way into Chicago to personally pay homage to her dear friend and colleague. Before the awards ceremony, we had the extreme pleasure of sitting down with Ralph for an exclusive one on one interview covering the various topics of his illustrious career in the music business.

 

As many are well aware, Ralph paved the way for country music personalities and interviewers in a sophisticated and personable manner during the 70ís, 80ís and 90ís with the national platform of successful radio and television programs such as ďThe Ralph Emery Show,Ē ďPop! Goes The CountryĒ and TNNís ďNashville Now.Ē

 

Weíd like to thank Mr. Emery for allowing us to interview him and for the invitation to join him on his memorable evening. We hope that you enjoy our interview with Ralph Emery. ĖChristian Scalise

 

 

(CSC) 1. Congratulations on your induction into the Radio Hall of Fame! What does this honor mean to you personally?

 

(Ralph Emery)

Thank you. Well itís always very special to reach the apex of your career; Iím 77 years old and Iím a member of the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and this just about puts the cap on it. Iím about at the end of my broadcasting career after 59 years, so it means a lot that other people have been paying attention to my work and liked it.

 

 

(CSC) 2. Being a seasoned veteran in the business, what have been the highs and lows of being an entertainment icon?

 

(Ralph Emery)

Iíve done an awful lot of interviews and I learned that you should always do your homework when youíre going to interview someone, you shouldnít assume, you should do the research to make sure your interview is going to go in the right direction. I guess the lows are when you donít do that and you show up with little information and donít know what youíre talking about.

 

 

(CSC) 3. You were inducted into the CMHOF in 2007, how do you feel about your induction and why is the CMHOF important to you personally?

 

(Ralph Emery)

Because I have spent so many years in country music and Iíve worked with just about every star except Hank Williams and also it occurred in my hometown, Nashville; you always like to be popular in your hometown. It meant a lot to me because these are people I had worked with for years and they thought enough of me to vote me into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

 

(CSC) Do you get to visit it often when youíre around town?

 

(Ralph Emery)

I go there occasionally. We have events there for the new inductees and there are other events that choose the future Hall Of Fame members and occasionally I go down there five or six times a year.

 

 

(CSC) 4. When did you get your first big break and what encouraged you to work specifically in the country music industry?

 

(Ralph Emery)

I guess because I was sitting right in the middle of it. If you were going to have a career in any kind of music; sitting in Nashville, being raised in Nashville and educated in Nashville was the place. I wanted to be in broadcasting since the age of about eleven or twelve. I wanted to be a sportscaster, but I never found many opportunities as I did in country music and especially when I went to work for WSM, the Grand Ole Opry station. Working at WSM is what made my career. There I got to work with about every star in the business. When I first went to WSM the three new members of the Grand Ole Opry were George Jones, Johnny Cash and The Everly Brothers. I knew Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins and all those people.

 

 

 

(CSC) 5. After all these years, WSM is still proudly airing on the radio and web, what do you think attributes to that factor?

 

(Ralph Emery)

I guess their owners had deep pockets. (Laughs) When I first worked there starting in 1957, they were in an old format and I played most of the country music. In the daytime they played pop and in the early evening they played Classical; they tried to be all things to all people. It was not until sometime in the 70ís that they went all country. Of course they had a broadcast and supported the Grand Ole Opry for 85 years. Theyíve done well with it, established a platform for that genre of music and because of WSMís contribution they kept country music alive all these years especially when Rock and Roll came along.

 

 

(CSC) 6. Are you pleased with the direction that country music is headed?

 

(Ralph Emery)

I donít care. All commercial music is in a constant state of evolution. Fats Domino is no longer a big Rock and Roll star nor is Roy Acuff a big country music star. After all the people who are big stars today move along, somebody will come along and replace Carrie Underwood five or ten years from now and the Paisley kid (Brad). Commercial music is in a constant state of change so it doesnít bother me. I know some people treat it as a religion but I donít. I treat it as a business and itís something I happen to like to do.

 

 

(CSC) 7. Being great friends with Reba McEntire, it must mean a lot that she came to present you with your award at your Radio Hall Of Fame induction!

 

(Ralph Emery)

Oh yes it does very much so! When I heard that she was coming I was shocked. I did a show with Reba back in May on the RFD-TV Network and she reminded me that we had done shows for 34 years together, and I told her that I was shocked that she kept up with it. (Laughs) Sheís a good friend. We used to ski together, her family and my family along with Barbara Mandrell and her family. Weíre just buddies! I was shocked when I heard that she was coming all the way to Chicago to put me into this Hall of Fame; I was very pleased.

 

 

(CSC) 8. What can you recall from the first time you met her as a new star?

 

(Ralph Emery)

How aggressive she was. Rebaís always been aggressive and I was doing my syndicated radio show with her one day and we got into some dialogue and I disagreed with her on some point and I could see how aggressive she was to make her point. I respect her not only as an entertainer but as a great businesswoman; she really is!

 

 

(CSC) 9. Out of all the wonderful interviews that youíve done in your career, what are some of the interviews youíre most proud of?

 

(Ralph Emery)

Anytime time I ever sat down with Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Tom T. Hall and Marty Robbins, who were close friends of mine; so itís hard to pick out one. I will say that I think Cash probably had more charisma among the men and among the ladies I would choose probably Dolly, Reba and Barbara. You know itís hard to do this without leaving out people so I think Iíll stop there.

 

 

(CSC) 10. You mentioned interviewing Patsy Cline; did you come to know her quite well personally?

 

(Ralph Emery)

Yes I did. She used to come up to my all night show and also I worked with her on the Grand Ole Opry. We were fairly close. I remember when she had her automobile wreck before she got killed. Two years before she got killed she was in a devastating automobile wreck and I remember going to see her in the hospital. I canít say we were bosom buddies but we knew and respected each other.

 

 

(CSC) 11. What is next in the forthcoming chapter of your career?!?

 

(Ralph Emery)

Well, Iíve done about everything Iíve wanted to do. Iím gettingí too old to conquer things at 77 years old. There are not many opportunities left. RFD has asked me to come back again to do another season but I donít know that I want to do that. I have a few medical issues and Iíll just leave it at that. Iíll decide laterÖ

 

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