WPAQ radio in Mt Airy, NC is celebrating 75 years on the air, broadcasting old time, roots, gospel, and bluegrass music in north central North Carolina, with a free concert on February 4 at the Earle Theatre in downtown Mount Airy.
The station first went on the air in February of 1948, after founder Ralph Epperson realized his long held desire to bring the traditional mountain music of the Blue Ridge to a wider audience. As a boy, Ralph ordered a banjo from a mail order catalog to get involved in the music first hand, but ended up returning it for a radio kit. Dreams of the radio business filled the young man’s mind, which after overcoming some initial resistance from his parents, was funded by a mortgage on the family farm.
Ralph’s dream has a resulted in a powerful 10,000 watt AM station that is still held in the family. His son Kelly manages the station to this day.
Now broadcasting as well at 106.7 FM and online at wpaq740.com, WPAQ offers a 24 hour signal with old time string band, bluegrass, and gospel music, as well as local, regional, plus national news and community events programming.
And they hold to the commitment the founder made in 1948 that the programming on the station would always be suitable for the entire family.
The 75th Anniversary Celebration on February 4 will begin at 4:00 p.m. with a screening of Broadcast: A Man and His Dream, a documentary about Epperson and WPAQ produced by Jordan Nance, starting at 4:30. Music begins at 5:45 with performances from Travis Frye & Blue Mountain, The Country Boys, The Slate Mountain Ramblers, The Nunn Brothers, and Harrison Ridge.
The Earl Theatre is also the site of the station’s Merry Go Round, the second longest running live weekly musical radio program in the US.
All are invited to attend the show on the 4th, and there is no admission fee.