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 30-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 celebrated its 16,000th broadcast on June 22, 2010. KBT has more broadcasts than the Grand Ole Opry and American Bandstand. Since 1951 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!" Before Payne, the show was hosted by Hugh Smith from 1943-1951. Over the years the biggest names in blues have been associated with the program, and important blues artists continue to perform live.