King Biscuit Time was the first radio program devoted to African American Blues music in the State of Arkansas. It began broadcasting at 12:15 each day on KFFA in Helena in 1941. The early shows featured Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Pinetop Perkins, Peck Curtis, Willie Love Houston Stackhouse and many others who would later travel to Chicago to become world famous recording artists. Many other musicians from the area including Levon Helm, Conway Twitty, and B.B.King would later pay tribute to the radio program for introducing them to professional blues musicians. It continues to be broad cast out of the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, with Sunshine Sonny Payne as its MC.
Black and white photograph from a King Biscuit Time radio show on KFFA radio station in Helena. From left to right: Joe Willie Dudlow, Sonny Boy Williamson, Mr. Langston (announcer), and Willie Love
Photograph, 4" x 5"
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I was at the AHA meeting in Helena to give a talk on Levon Helm and was invited to sit for an interview on KFFA with Thomas Shell Jacques. I did not know that “Sunshine” Sonny Payne himself would be running the board. So there I was sitting in the place where Elvis Costello and Robert Plant joked with Sonny Payne. And I was telling jokes with Sonny Payne. This was a mark off the bucket list. -Jeff Lewellen
Helena, Phillips County. (Ark.)
Tales from the Vault - Celebrating 110 Years
Arkansas State Archives
King Biscuit Time Radio Show, PS61-01, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas
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