Stuart Epperson Sr. co-founded Salem Media. Photo courtesy of Business Wire

Christian Radio Pioneer Dies

Christian Radio Pioneer Dies

News Story from Religion News Service

Stuart Epperson Sr., who co-founded one of the largest conservative religious radio broadcast outlets, died Monday (July 17) at the age of 86.

His death was announced by Salem Media, which Epperson co-founded in 1986 with his brother-in-law, Edward Atsinger. The two built Salem into a radio powerhouse that became a key communication channel for the religious right and a mainstay of the Republican Party. It helped grow America’s religious communities into a potent political force.

By 2018, the company was so involved in Republican politics it was pressuring its radio hosts to support then-President Donald Trump.

Epperson was a member and onetime president of the conservative Council for National Policy, an influential group whose members include leaders of anti-abortion organizations, think tanks, CEOs, wealthy donors, pastors, leaders of conservative universities and right-wing pundits.

He twice ran for Congress in the mid-1980s to represent the 5th Congressional District of North Carolina. (He lost to 10-term Democratic Congressman Stephen L. Neal.)

But the for-profit Christian radio empire Epperson built with the aim of offering an alternative to the secularism that he and Atsinger saw as part of America’s moral decay was his singular accomplishment.

Epperson, who made his home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for years, was Salem’s chairman emeritus at the time of his death. His son, Stuart Jr., is now director of Salem Media.

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