Longtime Radio personality in Toccoa has died

A longtime radio personality in Toccoa has died.

Bill Rice, known to his listeners as “The Rice Man” passed away today at Stephens County Hospital following a brief illness.

Rice grew up in northeast Georgia and started playing music at a very early age and was a musician while in high school and college.

And according to his biography on the Georgia Radio Museum and Hall of Fame Web site, his radio career happened by chance.

While attending Tennessee State Rice listened to soul radio Djs.

When he returned to Toccoa, Detroit Steeples, a local black announcer on WLET helped Rice develop his own style.

Later, owner and founder of WNEG Radio Roy Gaines wanted someone to host a soul music show and asked Rice for a demo tape.

Rice got the job, however, the station didn’t receive many records from the record companies; certainly not soul and rhythm and blues.

So Rice would use his own money to purchase the latest Stax, Motown, and Atlantic 45’s from such artists as  Rufus Thomas, James Brown, Wilson Pickett and others.

His show became very popular because he played the latest releases and because he took dedications.

Rice also dedicated a portion of his program to black gospel music, and when popular music began to change, he began to play it exclusively.

In 2013, Rice was given a career achievement award by the Georgia Radio Museum and inducted into their Hall of Fame.

Funeral services will be held at 1:00 pm Saturday (October 7) at the Friendship Baptist Church with interment to follow in Toccoa City Cemetery.

The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Friday from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Moss-Stovall-Neal Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements for Bill Rice.

Bill Rice was 74.