“Sunshine” Sonny Payne

John William Payne, better known as “Sunshine ” Sonny Payne is a legend around Helena, Arkansas and the entire Blues scene. He started and presented the King Biscuit Time radio show on KFFA in Helena, Arkansas from 1951 until his death. This is the longest running radio show in history and the Delta Cultural Center continues this program today in his honor.

Payne actually watched the KFFA 1360 AM radio station being built in Helena and got a job as a janitor there when it started operating in 1941. He worked with engineers to learn about broadcasting. “Sunshine” Sonny Payne toured with several musicians after he got out of the U.S. military in 1948. In 1951, Payne returned to Helena and was hired as an announcer for KFFA and began hosting the King Biscuit radio show.

In 1992, Payne won a George Foster Peabody Award for outstanding achievement in radio. He was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 2010. Sonny Boy Payne passed away at the age of 92 on February 9, 2018.

Source: Kerzner, Barry: American Blues Scene, February 10, 2018

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