From peanut bailin’ and hay farmin’ to grinin’ to the croonin’ of country classics - Sam Upshaw has found his place in the world - filling the airways with that “Pure Country” sound.
Upshaw recently escaped a short-lived retirement, sitting on the back porch of his Erath County home, and embarked on a new journey keeping his favorites in country music alive when he took over KEQX 89.7 “The Q.” Today, the station, like Upshaw’s listening taste, is nothing but good ol’ country music and the station’s new name, “Pure Country,” is a testament to its format.
“I am too good lookin’ and too young to sit on the back porch,” Upshaw, 57, said with a hearty chuckle.
Upshaw admits that his days on the back porch were a little depressing, but he knew everything would work out for the best when his right hand woman, wife of 39 years and mother of his two children, Lanell, told him the “sweetest thing” he had every heard.
“Lanell is an integral part of everything I do and everything I have done,” Upshaw said. “She said to me, as we were drivin’ down the road one day, ‘ I wish you would realize something is going to come along that you are going to love, and I’ve got my seat belt on and I’m ready for the next ride.’”
Today, she sits as Upshaw’s loyal copilot riding through the airways.
“Once the transition is made and we’ve crossed all the bumpy roads, this radio station is going to be the ride of our lives,” Lanell said.
While it was mere circumstance that landed Upshaw in the radio business, he said for a man who loves country music, the transition from farming to working as a disc jockey came naturally.
“I love country and western,” Upshaw said. “Thirty-seven years of farmin’ and ridin’ in the John Deere, what do you think I was listenin’ to? Good ol’ country and western!”
Upshaw said that good old country style is something that is often lost in today’s music. He said true country music should be left to the greats like his all-time favorite Ray Price. Pure Country airs other big names like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Lefty Frizzle, Gene Watson, Tony Booth and Johnny Rodriguez. The station also promotes the true Texas sound of artists such as Christine Mims and Dale Watson.
“It’s what country music is supposed to be,” Upshaw said.
As far as his background in the radio business goes, Upshaw said other than the last month at 89.7, there is not much to tell. He cut a few ads for a former business he owned that aired on local stations and worked a few weeks for the station’s former owners. In his second short-lived stint at “The Q,” he worked as the station’s general manager and brought the format back to the classic country.
“It’s not just about the music,” Upshaw said. “It is about the community and the listeners.”
He told a tale of a loyal listener in Stephenville, nearly blinded by glaucoma. His No. 1 fan never misses a single show and doesn’t miss a day without calling in to give his favorite DJ a big thumbs up. He also remarked on the importance of spreading the word about local organizations and supporting benefits for those in need.
“The community, that’s what it’s all about,” Upshaw said. “I am not trying to be a DJ, I am trying to run a community radio station.”
Lanell said her husband found that thing he loves and something they can do together as long as time will allow.
“This is something we can do to the very end,” Lanell said with a grin. “I don’t think he will ever stop talking, so this is the perfect fit. And if I have to listen to him, so do you.”
Upshaw said Pure Country is one of three stations in the Lone Star State dedicated to keeping real country alive.
You can catch Upshaw’s tribute to the greats on the Sam Upshaw morning show, which airs 7-10 a.m., Monday-Friday. And don’t miss the Saturday lineup, which kicks off with Harry Bradberry’s “Chuckwagon Serenade” from 7-10 a.m., followed by Leon Joplin’s tribute to Blue Grass, “Mountain Standard Time,” from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and Dell Barrett’s “Honky Tonk University” from 1-6 p.m. Wake up Sunday morning with J.D. Evans’ “Gospel Time,” which airs 7 a.m.-noon.
As he ends each and every show, Upshaw signed off Thursday with George Straits’ “The Cowboy Rides Away.”
But rest assured, loyal listeners, Upshaw “ain’t goin’ nowhere!”