Ralph Emery, TV Host Known as ‘the Johnny Carson of Country Music,’ Dies at 88

Ralph Emery – Courtesy Country Music Association


by Chris Willman


January 16, 2022

Ralph Emery, a radio and TV host who became as famous in the country world as most of the stars he interviewed over the decades, died Saturday at Tristar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville. He was 88. No immediate cause of death was given.

Emery’s renown as, alternately, “the Dick Clark of country music” or “the Johnny Carson of country” was significant enough to earn him a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007, in addition to the more expected plaudits befitting a top broadcaster in the industry, like his membership in the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame, an honor that came in 1989.

“Ralph Emery’s impact in expanding country music’s audience is incalculable,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the 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.”

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