Sunday, March 29, 2009
Hal Durham, Former Opry General Manager
Hal Durham, who served as a WSM announcer and as General Manager of the Grand Ole Opry, has passed away. He was 77. He was a part of the Grand Ole Opry for 32 years, as an announcer, manager, general manager, and then as president of the Opry group. He was named the general manager of the Opry in 1978. He served in that capacity until 1993. His contributions as general manager included allowing full drum sets on the Opry stage and relaxing the membership rules. It was because he relaxed the appearance requirements, that he was able to sign a number of younger artists as Opry members, including Garth Brooks, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Alan Jackson, Riders in the Sky, The Whites and Reba McEtire as members. He was considered very well liked by Opry members, both young and old. He also had their respect as someone who had been around WSM and the Opry for a long time, who listened to the opinions and suggestions of the various Opry members and the staff. He was also the last Opry manager who had risen through the ranks of WSM radio.