Eddie Stubbs Retires from WSM and Grand Ole Opry
By Claudia Johnson
After a lifelong involvement in traditional Country music, Grand Ole Opry and 650 AM WSM radio’s evening personality Eddie Stubbs has retired.
Although he’s best known for his voice, Stubbs is also a musician who learned to play fiddle while growing up in his native Montgomery County, Maryland. At age 17 he joined the initial lineup of the Grammy-nominated Johnson Mountain Boys, a Washington, D.C. bluegrass band.
His first job in radio was as a disc jockey when in 1983 he began hosting a weekly bluegrass show on WYII in Williamsport, Maryland, for which he earned $20 per program. The following year he moved to WAMU Bluegrass Country in Washington D.C., and in 1990 he began hosting his own show.
“No one gets rich in radio,” he once observed, explaining why he continued to do odd jobs like house painting to supplement his income.
“The Eddie Stubbs Show” on WAMU was a weekly exploration of the classic artists and songs of Country music that he described as “the best in classic honky-tonky, traditional country and vintage bluegrass.” After his March 1995 move to Nashville he continued to produce the show from his studio until 2007.
Stubbs’ relocation to Nashville was originally to play fiddle with Queen of Country Music Kitty Wells and husband Johnnie Wright, but other opportunities began to open for Stubbs.
“I heard it said once, years ago, if you want groceries, you’ve got to go to the store,” he recalled in the Ken Burns-produced PBS documentary series, “Country Music,” in which Stubbs was the centerpiece of the third installment. “Nashville is the store where the groceries are if you want to be in the Country music industry.”
A week after relocating to Nashville he was hired part-time at 650 AM WSM. A mere 17 days after he arrived in Nashville, Stubbs auditioned for the announcer’s position on the Grand Ole Opry and became the third-longest tenured announcer in the Grand Ole Opry’s history. Grant Turner served for 47 years, and Hairl Hensley served for 35 years as Opry announcers.
On July 8, 1996, Stubbs began hosting the evening shift on WSM. In WSM’s 95 years of operation, he holds the distinction of being the station’s longest-serving broadcaster in the 7 p.m. to midnight slot. He selected music focused on a different theme each night like Hall Of Fame Monday, Two For Tuesday, Way Back Wednesday, Classic Opry Thursday and WSM By Request on Friday. Stubbs won the Country Music Association’s Large Market Broadcast Personality Of The Year in 2002 and has been a finalist for that award six times.
“I have had an extremely blessed 25 years at WSM,” Stubbs said. “The experiences and friendships have allowed me to live a lot of dreams. Needless to say, I will be forever grateful.”
In 2012 he received Country radio’s highest honor by becoming one of the youngest living inductees into the Country Radio Hall Of Fame.
“Eddie has been a great friend to the Opry, to the Opry’s artists and to listeners around the world,” said Dan Rogers, Grand Ole Opry Vice President and Executive Producer. “I have no doubt that students of the Opry and of country music will for years turn to his recorded conversations with legends including Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart and so many more to learn about their careers and the era in which Eddie has made such an impact at the Opry and on WSM.”
In addition to his roles at WSM and the Opry, Stubbs spent six seasons as the on-camera announcer for “The Marty Stuart Show” on RFD-TV. He has served on committees with the Country Music Association, the International Bluegrass Music Association and The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.
“Basically, from the time my feet hit the floor in the morning until I go to bed at night, I am dealing with one aspect or another of the radio or music business,” Stubbs told journalist Beverly Keel in 2015. “The only time it seems like I am not is when I am in church on Sunday mornings.”
Acknowledged as “a walking encyclopedia of country music,” Stubbs has written about Country music history in journals, newspapers, books and liner notes for albums and CDs. He’s delivered eulogies at the funerals of more than 40 country music artists, including more than a dozen members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“Eddie Stubbs is considered the congenial face and voice of country music for many,” observed savingcountrymusic.com. “A virtual encyclopedia of country music knowledge, full of stories from his tenure at the Opry and WSM, he is an irreplaceable institution of a personality leaving at a time when the voices, characters and timbre of American country music is changing.”
Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted by permission of Country’s Family Reunion News, a monthly traditional country music publication available by subscription both online and in print with original stories, columns, interviews, photos and news about country music’s performing artists and songwriters from the genre’s beginning through the 1980s. For more about this magazine celebrating real country music, visit the digital, interactive magazine Country’s Family Reunion News.
Eddie Stubbs performing with the Johnson Mountain Boys
Honest Abe and WSM
Honest Abe Log Homes has been around more than 40 years, and during that time we’ve had a close relationship with the Grand Ole Opry and WSM Radio as well as radio host Eddie Stubbs.
When WSM first launched its streaming service in the early days of the internet, Honest Abe sponsored the website. For more than 25 years we’ve sponsored Eddie Stubbs’ evening show. Eddie has promoted Honest Abe during his show with minute-long commercials for many years.
Not only has Eddie maintained a business relationship with Honest Abe, he’s become a friend. He’s attended events at Moss and even participated in log raisings.
We at Honest Abe have been thrilled to take our clients backstage at the Grand Ole Opry over the years.
We wish Eddie and his new wife, Debbie, the best of everything as he enjoys his retirement. Here’s a video of their beautiful wedding.