Technically speaking, URTV personality Ralph Roberts isn’t a vlogger. After all, vloggers are “video bloggers,” and as such, the person involved must have a blog. But, when it comes to telling personal stories straight into the camera for the world to see, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better show than Ralph’s Stuff. Whether he’s taking you on a real-time, anecdote-laden drive from Alexander to West Asheville or presenting a tongue-in-cheek video about “High Performance German Ducks,” Ralph gives you television (and YouTube) content on his terms.
And, as you watch his rather substantial collection of videos (which include other projects beyond Ralph’s Stuff), an interesting portrait of the man emerges. We hear about his growing up on a farm, his time in Vietnam and his love of technology, writing and the area. We get snippets here and there, usually as he’s giving context to a seemingly unrelated yarn, about his love for amateur radio, his pre-internet experiences on ARPANET and the time he edited a newspaper in West Asheville, but never really liked the hustle and bustle of the town in the 1980s. Oh, and there’s the 100-or-so-odd books he’s written, too.
Most importantly, the lifelong WNC-resident reminds us of the area’s native community. Long before the artists and the developers moved in, and before the boutique stores and the condos took root, there was another community here. He seems almost like an ambassador from another time and place, a lost messenger from a quiet and deep-rooted people.