|The Ralph and Robbie Show
on Mt. Airy’s WPAQ
by Joe Newberry
A petite brown-haired woman with a soft voice leans into the microphone and announces, “It’s two o’clock and you’re listening to the Blue Ridge Spotlight on WPAQ in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. I’m Robbie Ernhart, along with Ralph Epperson. Hey Ralph.”
So begins another “Blue Ridge Spotlight” on WPAQ 740-AM in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Archival recordings made at the station throughout the years, along with conversation between the hosts and calls from listeners give the show a flavor as distinctive as biscuits and gravy.
WPAQ’s inaugural broadcast took place on Groundhog Day 1948. Epperson and his father built the station by hand, even milling the paneling on the walls. Live music has always been a big part of the station’s life, and in fact made up most of the programming in early years. WPAQ’s “Merry-Go-Round,” which broadcasts from the stage of the Downtown Cinema in Mt. Airy, is a vestige of this now almost vanished feature of rural southern radio. With appearances by local old-time and bluegrass musicians, it is one of the longest running live radio shows in the country.