My friend Rhonda Vincent is the “Queen of Bluegrass”. She sang in her family band when she was a little girl in Missouri. She always dreamed of singing and playing bluegrass music and sharing it with the world.
I first met Rhonda Vincent at the IBMA for my birthday in 2004. I really like Rhonda and her drive with the mandolin. She really makes me feel special when we talk. I feel like one of the guys in the band.
You can have a dream like Rhonda and Ralph and me.
You Must Have a Dream
Special thanks to Stuart Epperson who shares these comments about his brother Ralph with us.
I was born about 15 years after Ralph and my earliest memories were when he was a senior in high school. He was the person we always looked to for leadership and answers to all kinds of questions. He read constantly…all kinds of books. When someone came to our farm house he would ask them questions about everything. He was highly intelligent.
Shortly after Ralph returned home from working on the Naval Labs in Washington during WW II he built a small radio station in an upstairs bedroom…and commenced daily broadcasting. He often interviewed me on the radio calling me by the nickname, PETER RABBIT, which he had given me. I was eight years old at the time. That name stuck for many years…and I loved every minute that little radio station was on the air. I sometimes read the Bible on the air. People were always mentioning they had heard me on the radio.
Then, in 1948, Ralph began operating WPAQ in Mt. Airy. My father sawed out the lumber and built most of the building, being a very good carpenter. I was there during the entire process. I knew then I wanted to be a radio broadcaster. Ralph taught me everything I needed to know with help from Arnold, another older brother who also went into radio. This included cleaning the building, announcing,becoming a disc jockey, selling advertising and actually running a radio station.
His dream was contagious….to do everything in an excellent way..he was a perfectionist. He advised me to first get a radio station for myself….then get more. I still rely on his principles of business life…Christian Principles…
What can I say about Ralph except he was the Greatest Man I’ve ever known!
Stuart Epperson (far left) is co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Salem Media Group. Also pictured are siblings Mary Lee Epperson King, Roy Epperson, Lucy Epperson Bowman, Harry “Arnold” Epperson, Jr. and WPAQ founder Ralph Epperson.
I first met Ralph Epperson at WPAQ in 1995. He told me he worked really hard to build the station so he could put it on the air on February 2, 1948. I remember him telling me that WPAQ was his dream. I will not forget what he said to me. Broadcast: A Man and His Dream is my tribute to Ralph and WPAQ.
I am really proud UNC-TV showed my documentary Broadcast: A Man and His Dream on the 19 of February 2015. I am happy to share the documentary about Ralph Epperson and the early days of WPAQ on my favorite television station. Ralph’s stories and recordings helped me experience the mountain music first hand. I hope the people who watch it will feel the same way I do.
I have watched UNC-TV since I was a little boy. When I was three I started watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood. I liked Fred singing and talking to me like he was in my room. He would tell me “I like you just the way you are”. That would help me every day. In 1997 and 2000 I went to see Fred tape in Pittsburgh. He was really nice to me and a good friend. I saw him again in 2002 before he died.
Ralph Epperson and Fred Rogers made me feel really special when they talked to me I miss them still. It was so cool that the premiere of Broadcast: A Man and His Dream was on the forty seventh anniversary of the first Mister Rogers Neighborhood program on national television. The 19 of February was a beautiful day in my neighborhood with my friends Ralph and Fred looking down on me.
My documentary Broadcast: A Man and His Dream will premiere on UNC-TV on the 19 of February at 10 PM. I have been looking for this day for a long time. I am happy to share about Ralph Epperson and his story of starting WPAQ with you. I hope you will like my tribute to my good friend and the music he loved.
I am Jordan Nance the director of the documentary “Broadcast: A Man and His Dream”. I am thirty one years old. I have cerebral palsy but it is okay. I sometimes have to get help from my family and friends.
I like music since I was a baby. I fell in love with bluegrass when I first heard it in 1994. I like the beat of the music and the story it tells in the song. Ralph Epperson helped me to love the music like he did when I listened to WPAQ radio and talked to him.
My dream is to help people know about Ralph Epperson and his dream to build WPAQ. We have the bluegrass and old time music from the Blue Ridge because he played it on his station and recorded it for us to listen to today. Ralph told me he did not give up on his idea when it got hard for him. He had to get some help from his family and his friends. He had people praying for him to finish WPAQ.
When Ralph said “do not give it up” it helped me to stick with it and keep working on the documentary until I finished it. I worked hard but I needed help for my dream to come true. I could not do it without my producer Beth Crookham helping me and my mom and dad.
And here it is my website “Broadcast the Dream”. I am happy I get to share it with you. I hope it helps you to live your dream like Ralph and me.