Dave Wheaton can’t mask his excitement over getting the chance to talk to Texas musicians.

His enthusiasm shines through his voice as he questions and chats with Texas artists ranging from mainstream artists Mark Chestnutt and Michael Martin Murphey to trop-rocker Kelly McGuire and local up-and-coming red dirt band Whiskey Myers as part of his weekly radio show, “Coming Home.”

As program director for KBHT 93.5 FM in Grapeland, Wheaton gets plenty of chances to do what he loves, hands on, and get paid for it. Each weekday, he hosts the “Request and Dedication Show” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and does some high school baseball and basketball broadcasts. On Saturdays, “Coming Home” airs from 9 to 10 a.m. and is re-broadcast from 5 to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

“I think what we have here – classic country music and newer music from Texas – I love the mix,” Wheaton said Friday. “A lot of the new artists are fans of the old artists.”

“Coming Home” has become a favorite of both listeners and Wheaton. The hour-long show has its own Web site, www.cominghometx.com, where broadcasts are available for free download and Wheaton has a blog set up to talk more about the interviews and artists.

“We try to get some of the more known artists,” he said, ticking off Chestnutt, Murphey, Billy Joe Shaver, Wade Bowen, Kevin Fowler and Ray Wylie Hubbard as examples but noted that newcomers had become favorites, as well.

“Some of my favorite artists are some I had never heard of,” Wheaton said, adding that he’s thrilled to get to know any of the artists.

Last May, Wheaton set up shop at the Palestine Civic Center, interviewing Texas artists on the red carpet as they arrived for the Texas Music Awards show, and later introducing musician and comedian Richard Bowden during the show and each of the five live bands playing the after-show party.

This time around, he’s up for an award himself at the TMA – Disc Jockey of the Year.

“This is my first time being nominated for any music-related award,” Wheaton said. “I was very surprised. Lucky and Jinelle Boyd (TMA producers) came in to the station and told me live on the air and surprised me with it.”

Since then, listeners and friends around the KBHT broadcast area have called to say they’ve voted for him, Wheaton said, and artists whom he had interviewed have spread the word among their fans about his nomination.

“Everybody’s been pretty positive about letting me know they voted for me,” Wheaton said.

Being nominated for a statewide DJ award was not something he planned for when he moved from his hometown of Battle Creek, Mich., in 2006 to take a job with 93.5, Wheaton said.

“I came down here not a country music fan,” Wheaton said, laughing. “But ‘here’ is a great place to work. KBHT has allowed me to do things – program a radio station without corporate involvement, my ‘Coming Home’ show – and I’ve gotten to know great listeners.

“It’s been completely unexpected. I thought this would be a stop-gap but it’s a great place to live and to raise kids.”

Wheaton has a 9-year-old son, Nathan. Before moving to Grapeland, Wheaton, a graduate of Kellogg College in Battle Creek, worked for Fairfield Broadcasting Co. for eight years as a midday on-air radio show host, promotions director and University of Michigan football correspondent in Battle Creek.

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