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Salem’s Stuart Epperson Dies

Influential evangelical co-founded the company with Ed Atsinger

Headshot of Stuart EppersonStuart Epperson Sr., the co-founder of influential Christian broadcaster Salem Media Group, has died, the company announced. He was 86.

“Stuart, along with his brother-in-law, Edward Atsinger, founded Salem Communications (now Salem Media Group) in 1986 and expanded Salem’s influence with Christian and politically conservative news talk formatted radio stations and media assets nationwide,” the company said in its announcement.

“Mr. Epperson was a longtime leader in Christian radio as a former member of the board of directors of the National Religious Broadcasters Association. In 2005, Time Magazine named him one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.”

It noted that he was involved in several conservative organizations “dedicated to preserving Judeo Christian values in our culture through public policy.” Epperson was a past president of the conservative Council for National Policy and twice a Republican nominee for Congress.

Epperson attended Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C., earning a bachelor’s degree in radio/television broadcasting and a master’s in communications.

Salem Executive Chairman Ed Atsinger said in the announcement: “I will miss him, but I take comfort in realizing that he is already receiving his reward for a life well-lived.”

Epperson had resigned as chairman last year.

In 1974, Atsinger put FM station KDAR on the air in Oxnard, Calif. Subsequent to that, both he and Epperson began buying more stations and formatting them with Christian talk. In 1986, they pooled their assets. The company today is a radio broadcaster, internet content provider and magazine and book publisher. It has 101 radio stations, with 30 in the nation’s top 10 markets, according to its website.

[Related: “Salem Fears Doom for Religious Radio if FCC Kills Subcaps” ]