The Radio Powerhouse and Faithful Servant

Named one of Time Magazine’s 25 most influential evangelicals, he walked in circles most BJU alumni cannot access.  And yet fame and fortune are ultimately not his legacy.

Stuart Epperson graduated from Bob Jones University in 1957 and 1959 with degrees in broadcasting. But long before he came to BJU, Stu had developed an interest in radio.  Growing up on a small tobacco farm in Virginia, Stu and his family lived in a simple home that for many years did not have electricity.  So, when Stu’s oldest brother purchased a radio for the home, he powered it with a small windmill attached to the roof.  Quickly, their house became a community hub with people gathering every weekend to hear music and preaching on the radio.  Stu’s brother later created and operated a radio station in the family home which required the assistance of young Stu.  Stu’s training for the world of radio was well on its way!


As a result of attending BJU, Stu met and married Nancy Atsinger (’62 grad) which in turn provided Stu his future business partner- brother-in-law, Edward Atsinger III (’61 grad).  After years of owning and operating radio stations around the US, Stu and Ed co-founded Salem Communications- now known as Salem Media Group- a company publicly listed on NASDAQ.  According to Nancy Epperson, God opened doors in surprising ways and a handful of radio stations grew to over 100, located in all major markets and reaching millions of people daily.

Combining his extraordinary radio empire with his passionate support of conservative values, Stu found himself in the presence of key political leaders, including presidents of the United States.  His success is unquestionable and his influence extraordinary.  But that is not the crux of Stu’s story.


Stu’s life centered around his faith and his family. Taking every opportunity to make an eternal difference in the lives of others was and continues to be the Epperson’s heartbeat.  Linda St. John, a close family friend, was inspired by Stu’s “boldness in witnessing.” “To be with him,” she adds, “was to be talking about the Lord.” A local and a national youth mentoring program, the Winston Salem Rescue Mission, and the Salem Pregnancy Care Center are just a few examples of ministry outreaches they initiated, funded, and personally supported with their time.

One Saturday, Stu invited his friend, Dr. Bob Jones III, to join him at a local Section 8 housing area to visit with the kids, provide food and share the gospel.  Jones remembers Stu saying, “maybe we can do something that would be of lasting consequence for the cause of Christ.” From a friendship spanning decades, Jones describes Stu as one who “lived his love of Christ everywhere” and emphasizes that Stu’s legacy “will be the souls that are with him in heaven.”


In addition to the spread of the gospel, Stu was devoted to his family so completely that he mainly worked from a home office his entire career to be present in the lives of his wife, his children and his grandchildren.  Friend and current BJU professor, Dr. Ray St. John, characterizes Stu as “content to be interrupted by a grandchild.” “His greatest achievement,” says his wife, Nancy, “was our children and grandchildren who all love the Lord.”

In all he achieved in business, politics, ministry, and relationships, Stu Epperson never forgot where he came from.  He cherished his humble roots in Virginia and the lasting impact of BJU on his life.  In a short family history he authored, Stu said, “going to Bob Jones University changed everything.”  Ray St. John adds, “he had teachers that took a personal interest in him- that fashioned him in a way that made his success attainable.” Nancy Epperson concurs, describing the positive impact of BJU on their lives as “immeasurable.”

The transformational experience of BJU was so precious to the Eppersons, they financially supported many students to provide the same opportunity.  One recipient of their generosity is Dr. Miriam Patterson, a current professor at BJU.  “I am daily grateful to know the Eppersons personally,” says Patterson. “Their lives have had such an impact on my life that it is my desire to serve my family, my students, my local church, missions, and anyone I encounter, for the edification of the body of Christ and for the advancement of the Gospel.”

Stuart Epperson Sr went to be with his Lord on July 17, 2023.  He is rightfully known for great professional accomplishment but as Nancy, his wife and partner of 60 years confirms, Stu would want to be remembered as a faithful servant.

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