Americana: Arkansas

Living on King Biscuit Time
November 06, 2007 to December 01, 2007

For the duration of this exhibition, a series of audio events will air at 12:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday in the outdoor courtyard of the Wattis Institute to honor the world's longest-running blues radio show, King Biscuit Time. Every weekday since 1941, listeners in the vicinity of Helena, Arkansas, have been tuning in to KFFA 1360 AM to catch the half-hour broadcast as it travels the airwaves of the Mississippi Delta region. Preserving King Biscuit Time's daily time slot of 12:15 p.m., these 23 recordings culled from the show's archive of more than 15,000 programs introduce to San Francisco a transcontinental archaeology of sound—a time capsule packed in Arkansas and delivered in California.

Named after its original local sponsor, King Biscuit Flour, King Biscuit Time was one of the first radio shows in the nation to play music by African Americans and has inspired generations of blues and rock musicians. The small slice of aural history presented in these archival recordings speaks to the larger cultural legacy of the blues in the southern United States. And if one voice has become synonymous with that legacy, it is that of the show's longtime announcer, "Sunshine" Sonny Payne, who, having hosted more than 13,000 of these programs over five decades, has been "living on King Biscuit time" for most of his life.

I would like to thank Mr. Payne and the staff of KFFA and the Delta Cultural Center for their care in selecting these recordings and their incredible generosity in loaning the material. Interested listeners outside KFFA's broadcast range can access the latest programs, archived daily, at www.kffa.com.

Sarah Robayo Sheridan

Return to Americana Homepage