Ralph Bristol, On-Air Weekdays 5am-9am on SuperTalk 99.7 WTN
Ralph grew up on the banks of the Niobrara River outside Valentine, NE. His first job, at age 12, was stacking hay in the summer of 1962, a 12-hour a day job that paid $6 a day.
In 1971, while attending college at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Ralph decided to join the Air Force. Airman Bristol, an Information Specialist, was sent to Travis AFB, California, where he helped hundreds of national media representatives cover the return of prisoners of war from Vietnam. He was later assigned to Military Airlift Command (MAC) Headquarters at Scott AFB, IL as editor of the MAC News Service.
While stationed at Scott AFB, Ralph got hooked on talk radio by listening to KMOX-AM in St. Louis. After his honorable discharge from the Air Force, Ralph returned to college and earned a degree in Radio and Television from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
Ralph's first radio job was News Director of KMPL-AM in Sikeston, Mo, where he was the entire news department, working 6 1/2 days a week. He later served as News Director of KHMO-AM in Hannibal, MO, then detoured into television. At WGEM-TV in Quincy, IL, Ralph started as weekend anchor and reporter and moved up to News Director.
In 1995, Ralph moved back to radio as news anchor for WORD-AM in Greenville/Spartanburg, SC. After lobbying relentlessly for a chance to do a talk show, he got a two hour a week gig, on Sunday afternoon, to see what he could do. Nine months later, management agreed he had the right stuff, and Ralph started his full-time talk show career in September, 1996. He was thrice named "Best AM Radio Personality of the Year" by the MetroBeat alternative newspaper in Greenville.
Ralph's roots grew deep in Greenville/Spartanburg, but when Nashville beckoned, it was one of those challenges he could not resist. Ralph accepted the offer to entertain and inform Super Talk 99.7 WWTN's morning drive audience in April 2007.
Ralph is permanently attached to his faithful female companion, Marianna, who first impressed him as a challenging caller to his radio show, and later as a woman of beauty, intelligence, high expectations and low maintenance.
Ralph has three grown children and six grandchildren who live in Missouri and Virginia. He's also very close to Marianna's two children and four grandchildren in Atlanta, GA.
Ralph's hobbies include golf, pool, woodworking and helping Marianna with her never-ending home remodeling projects.
In Greenville/Spartanburg, Ralph was a popular public speaker on public policy issues, especially education, taxes, entitlements, economics and elections. He accepted several invitations to be a guest instructor at Clemson University economic classes. He was also a frequent choice to moderate political debates for statewide offices.
Ralph is a libertarian conservative who believes in minimum government, maximum freedom and personal responsibility. He has no specific political party affiliation.
Ralph is currently a member of the Rotary Club of Donelson/Hermitage and is active in helping promote the mission of the Domestic Violence Intervention Center in Nashville. He has helped many charitable causes including the United Way and Meals on Wheels. He was chairman of the United Way campaign in Hannibal, MO in 1982. He was a Meals on Wheels volunteer in Greenville, SC and emceed many of their fundraising events.
Ralph's voice has, on occasion, been mistaken for Paul Harvey, and he was once hired to imitate Mr. Harvey in a 10-minute "this is your life" birthday presentation for a Paul Harvey fan, the founder of Ingles Foods, on the occasion of Mr. Ingles' 80th birthday.
Ralph is a skilled writer and interviewer. He rarely loses his cool on the air, but he once shocked his audience by hanging up on Sen. John McCain in 2000 when he thought McCain refused to answer his questions.
Ralph is a "caller friendly" host who argues strenuously but rarely loses patience with his callers. "Some hosts seem to fear opposing opinions," says Ralph. "They can't handle the possibility of losing an argument, so they cut callers off or shout them down. That happens because the host is trying to be popular with his base instead of being right. If you know you're right, and know why you're right, you're not afraid of hostile callers. I'm not afraid of hostile callers. Hostile callers energize me."
Ralph's mentors are: his dad, a WWII vet who Ralph describes as "even-tempered, multi-talented, hard-working, honest, tolerant, humble, fearless, and a very good pool player;" the late Bob Hardy of KMOX radio in St. Louis, who once counseled Ralph to conduct interviews "as if you were sitting with the guy at the bar -- let your curiosity control the interview;" Paul Harvey, who Ralph considers the "best story teller on radio" and columnist George Will, who proves that conservatives don't have to be populists to be influential.
Ralph has been frequently recruited, but has always refused, to run for political office. "I would be an ineffective back-bencher, always right, but never effective," he says. "I won't even join the parade to be popular on the radio, where ratings are everything. Just think how marginalized I would be as a politician."
Speaking of parades, Ralph's only phobia is parades. "As a public media figure, I have frequently been asked to appear in parades. Nothing is more distasteful to me than putting myself on display for others to -- what, admire? I'll wade into any crowd to meet folks, but a pedestal is an intolerably uncomfortable perch."
Ralph was born in 1950, became gainfully employed in 1962 and plans to retire in 2020, at which time he will spend the rest of his life playing golf, inventing new items from "trees that have sacrificed themselves for the greater good," enjoying Marianna's company and spoiling his grandchildren and (sooner than he wants to admit) great-grandchildren. His singular goal in life is to inspire others to embrace competition, be self-reliant, honest and grateful for living in the greatest country in the world.