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Stuart Epperson, Salem Media co-founder, dies at 86

Stuart Epperson, the co-founder of radio broadcaster Salem Media Group. (Courtesy image)
Stuart Epperson, the co-founder of radio broadcaster Salem Media Group. (Courtesy image)

Stuart Epperson, an evangelical Christian who co-founded one of the largest conservative and commercial religious radio broadcast outlets, died this week at the age of 86.

Epperson’s passing was announced by Salem Media Group in a press release on Monday. No cause of death was given.

Epperson co-founded Salem Media in the mid-1908s with his brother-in-law, Edward Atsinger. The two built Salem Media into a powerhouse broadcast outlet that paved the way for influential conservative talk shows hosts to dominate the airwaves in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s.

“Stuart will be greatly missed by many,” Atsinger said in a statement. “I will miss him, but I take comfort in realizing that he is already receiving his reward for a life well-lived.”

While Salem continues to be one of the more-dominant, right-of-center broadcasters, its influence has waned over the last two decades as cable news and digital media operations have supplanted AM radio as the outlet of choice for the politically conservative.

Like other broadcasters, Salem Media has struggled over the last few years due to a weakening in the traditional radio advertising market, with dollars and messaging increasingly flowing toward connected services like podcasts and social media. The company’s stock price has fallen nearly 15 percent since the start of the year, and was trading around 89 cents per share as of Monday.

In June, officials at NASDAQ warned Salem Media would be suspended from trading on their exchange if they did not bring their price back to at least $1 per share.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).