King Biscuit Time

King Biscuit Time

:"King Biscuit Time" is also the name under which ex-Beta-Band frontman Steve Mason releases his solo work. See King Biscuit Time (musician)."King Biscuit Time", broadcast each weekday from KFFA in Helena, Arkansas, United States, is one of the longest-running daily American radio broadcasts in history and the most famous live blues radio program. The program has won the George Foster Peabody Award for broadcasting excellence and is currently broadcast from the KFFA studio located in the Delta Cultural Center in Helena.

History and description

The first broadcast of "King Biscuit Time" was on 21 November 1941 on KFFA in Helena, and featured the African-American blues artists Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller) and Robert Lockwood, Jr. Williamson and Lockwood played live in the studio and were the key musicians in the original studio band, the "King Biscuit Entertainers". Other musicians who joined the original band were Pinetop Perkins on piano and James Peck Curtis on drums. Williamson left the program in 1947 but returned for a stint in 1965 just prior to his death.

The 15-minute long live radio program is broadcast at 12:15 every weekday and was named after the local flour company, King Biscuit Flour. The local grocery distributor financed the show at the behest of Williamson in exchange for endorsements and naming rights. KFFA was the only station that would play music by African-Americans and it reached an audience throughout the Mississippi Delta region and inspired a host of important blues musicians including B.B. King, Robert Nighthawk, James Cotton and Ike Turner. The show's 12:15 time slot was chosen to match the lunch break of African-American workers in the Delta.

"King Biscuit Time" has been broadcast more than 14,000 times, more than the "Grand Ole Opry" and "American Bandstand". Since the 1960s the program has been hosted by the award winning "Sunshine" Sonny Payne who opens each broadcast with "pass the biscuits, cause its King Biscuit Time!". Over the years the biggest names in blues have been associated with the program and important blues artists continue to perform live.

Influence and related projects

The popularity of the program made Helena a major blues center. Helena became a stopping place for blues musicians on their way from the Delta region to the Chicago blues nightclubs and was also convenient to Memphis, Tennessee and its lively blues culture. Several blues musicians came to Helena and made it their home, such as Little Walter Jacobs and Jimmy Rogers.

"King Biscuit Time" was also a major breakthrough for African-American music in general. The popularity of the program and its reach into the untapped African-American demographic gained notice and spawned a host of imitators. By 1947 the first black disc jockey in the South, Early Wright, had been signed at WROX across the river. WDIA in Memphis soon became the first radio station in the South with an all black staff (including deejay B.B. King) and musical format based on the success of "King Biscuit Time".

The "King Biscuit Flower Hour" is a one hour syndicated rock and roll radio program the name of which was derived from "King Biscuit Time". Levon Helm, drummer for The Band, has credited "King Biscuit Time", and in particular James Peck Curtis, for inspiring his musical career. In 1986 the first annual King Biscuit Blues Festival was held in Helena, attracting thousands of blues aficionados from around the world. A magazine spin-off, "King Biscuit Time" edited by Donald Wilcock, has won several awards from the Blues Foundation, including the "Keeping The Blues Alive Award", and features interviews and biographies of major blues personalities.

External links

* [ King Biscuit Time official web site]
* [ KFFA web site]

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