"Sunshine" Sonny Martin
As a kid growing up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, I listened to the radio like everybody else with no idea of what my future would hold. After graduating from Pine Bluff High School I headed to ASU Jonesboro. Writing was my skill so Journalism was the direction…or so I thought. When I got to ASU, I changed my Major from Newspaper Journalism to Radio Journalism on the advice of my cousin and that Door was opened.
Upon leaving ASU and returning to Pine Bluff, I worked weekends at different stations and had a “real” job during the week. After a couple years I decided to try full time radio at KADL and I was hooked. One Sunday morning in the basement of the Pines Hotel while I did my usual Sunday morning show, Tommy Riggs (Rock Robbins on KAAY in Little Rock) stopped by. He had been listening and thought I might be right for a slot on KAAY! WOW! THE Rock Robbins! KAAY!! He asked me to send an air check to George J. Jennings, the program director. And the rest is My Life.
I enjoyed 11 years at KAAY from 1966 to 1977. Most of those years were doing Mornings with George as my newsman and Texas adversary. I had lots of fun doing events like the Skunk Races, the Cow Chip Throwing Championship, the Downtown Beat Texas Pep Rally, and Toys for Tots on Toy Hill and everything that came into Barton Coliseum. KAAY – AM (the Mighty 1090) had 50,000 watts of power and a coverage area that included 28 states and 8 foreign countries and all of Arkansas. While being the music director for 8 years, I had the opportunity to introduce lots of Hit Songs to listeners in Arkansas. In the late 70’s, AM Radio began to take a back seat to FM and things began to change. George left KAAY and moved to KXXA across town and I followed shortly after. He got the opportunity to go home to Texas and WOAI and I stayed in Arkansas. When KXXA was taken over by new owners they asked me to do the Morning Drive on their new Country FM station. KSSN 96 was born.
KSSN brought more history in Arkansas Radio and more morning Sonshine for me. Chili Cook-offs were a big thing and the KSSN Chicken Lips Chili Team was in the big middle of it. We were part of many more events with a Country flavor until 1984. This is when my wife, Terri, aka Sweet Pea (the love of my life) and I moved to her parents Resort outside of Heber Springs, Arkansas on the Banks of the Little Red River. Lindsey’s Resort became our family home and the Pot O’ Gold Restaurant began. After a few years God blessed us with our son Lindsey Coles to make it 3 Peas in our Pod. During the years we have lived here I have kept my voice on the air at KAWW in Heber, Cool 95 in Little Rock and KWCK 99.9 in Searcy. Dan Caldwell, one of the owners of KWCK and I became friends and he needed a Morning Man. Thanks to the Lord and Sweet Pea I had a terrific time with the Buzzard Buffet, Birthdays and Anniversaries, School Lunch Menus, Arkansas weather and getting folks out of bed and on their way each day.
Now I thank my Lord again that my good friend Terry Murphy and the COOL 104.7 crew and I will have the opportunity to reach even more of the gang that grew up with me. We will Rock It with Classic Hits and all the memories of the 60’s and 70’s. I hope you tell all your friends about where the “Sonshine” is now! With great contests, COOL Bumper Stickers and T-shirts and maybe a Cow Chip or two, all to bring your day some “Sonshine” with Sonny Martin!
Remember “I’m a Believer” and I’m gonna “Get Ready” to “Drift Away” while “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”!
Be COOL and Bucky Up!