NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Country Music Hall of Famer Ralph Emery has died at the age of 88, according to his family.

Emery, known as “the dean of country music broadcasters,” began his career at small-market radio stations throughout Tennessee, eventually becoming the biggest television and radio personality in country music. He launched the successful Ralph Emery Show in 1972

A statement from the Emery family says Ralph died peacefully Saturday morning at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, surrounded by family. Emery leaves behind his wife Joy, three sons, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

A statement from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum reads:

“Ralph Emery’s impact in expanding country music’s audience is incalculable. On radio and on television, he allowed fans to get to know the people behind the songs. Ralph was more a grand conversationalist than a calculated interviewer, and it was his conversations that revealed the humor and humanity of Tom T. Hall, Barbara Mandrell, Tex Ritter, Marty Robbins and many more. Above all, he believed in music and in the people who make it.”

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.