“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)

KFFA 1360 Helena

Sounds from the Soil & Soul

Sound from the Soil & Soul Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 17, 2012
1. Sound from the Soil & Soul Marker
Inscription. The music of the Arkansas Delta is the music of America. With roots in gospel or "church music," the blues, jazz, country, and rock n'roll flowed from the rich, fertile landscape bordering the lower Mississippi River and spread out across the country and the world. Follow the Arkansas Delta Music Trail to experience the sounds that shaped the land, its people, and the nation.

KFFA 1360 Helena

King Biscuit Time
"King Biscuit Time" first aired live on November 21, 1941, on Helena, Arkansas's KFFA 1360 AM radio. Since that time, the program has become the longest-running daily blues radio show in the United States, as well as an influential platform for up-and-coming blues performers. The award-winning program has aired more times that the "Grand Ole Opry" and has outlasted "American Bandstand" by at least a generation. Legendary bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson was the original host of King Biscuit Time, playing live with Robert Perkins and James Peck Curtis-in the KFFA studio. The show was named after King Biscuit Flour, distributed throughout the Arkansas Delta by Interstate Grocer Company. The company agreed to sponsor a radio production for Sonny Boy and his band in exchange for live commercials for King Biscuit Flour.

King Biscuit Time was the first regular radio show to feature blues and has
Sound from the Soil & Soul Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 17, 2012
2. Sound from the Soil & Soul Marker
(far left) Sonny "Sunshine" Payne
influenced generations of delta blues and rock n' roll artists whose sounds are based on the raw energy of Sonny Boy Williamson's music. The daily programming of Sonny Boy Williamson, Pinetop Perkins, Robert Jr. Lockwood, and other Delta blues legends laid the foundation for the blues, rock, pop, and hip-hop music of today.

Award-winning "Sunshine" Sonny Payne has hosted the show since 1951 and has been a presence on King Biscuit Time since its inception in 1941. A recognized blues musician in his own right, Payne welcomes visitors to the live broadcast each week at noon. In keeping with its tradition of broadcasting live music from the studio, King Biscuit Time still welcomes artists in the studio almost weekly, and the show's record-setting 15,000 plus broadcasts document the formation of a true American art form. Under Sunshine Sonny's direction, King Biscuit Time was awarded the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award in 1992, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of radio and broadcast journalism.

The Delta Cultural Center became "home" to King Biscuit Time in the early 1990's, and the show is broadcast live daily from a special studio in downtown Helena and streamed around the world via KFFA's website,

Arkansas Delta Music Trail Paid for with a combination of state funds and regional tourism promotion association
Sound from the Soil & Soul Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 17, 2012
3. Sound from the Soil & Soul Marker
Sonny Sunshine Payne at KFFA 1360AM
Erected by Arkansas Delta Music Trail.
Location. 34° 31.393′ N, 90° 35.167′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker is on Cherry Stret north of Missouri Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 141 Cherry Street, Helena AR 72342, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Blues Trail: Mississippi to Helena (within shouting distance of this marker); Hernando De Soto (within shouting distance of this marker); A Great Upheaval (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); A Union Stronghold in Confederate Arkansas (about 300 feet away); Phillips County Goes to War (about 300 feet away); The Battle of Helena (about 400 feet away); They Passed This Way (about 400 feet away); Helena and The Trail of Tears (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Helena.
Categories. Entertainment
Cherry Street Pavilion & main stage. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 26, 2017
4. Cherry Street Pavilion & main stage.
The pavilion and area serves as the main stage for events such as:
• Wild Hog Music Fest and Motorcycle Rally
• The Arkansas Delta Family Gospel Festival
• The King Biscuit Blues Festival
Credits. This page was last revised on September 1, 2017. This page originally submitted on January 23, 2012, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 544 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 23, 2012, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa.   4. submitted on August 26, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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