Sonny Love, The Voice of KVCR-FM Succumbs at 74
By Dianne Anderson
Sonny Belvin, the legendary San Bernardino KVCR-FM soulful DJ of the disco dance floor when vinyl was king, passed away last Monday. He was 74.
Better known among his fans as Sonny Love, he was a pioneering force for Black music in the Inland Empire at a time when no one else was throwing down the beat.
Brian Townsend, editor, and publisher of the Precinct Reporter recalled Love as one of only two Black DJ’s in the area for years.
“The only way to hear Black music when I was growing up was to listen to Sonny Love,” Townsend said. “If you wanted to listen to music, he was the one.”
Love, an Army Vietnam Veteran in the 1960’s, was also big in sports until a knee injury stopped his game, but it started him down the path to a career on his next love — music. At a time when Burn Baby Burn was common vernacular of resistance from coast to coast, San Bernardino radio was still blacked out without Black music.
In the 70’s, Love changed all that by changing the vibe at KVCR to bring home the top soul jams, along with a more fitting name, the “Black Radio Workshop.” From there, he took over all aspects of programming for his new “KVCR Soul” that helped fuel the funk for the local community.
“Sonny was my friend for 40 years,” said Clyde Williams, former Outreach Coordinator for San Bernardino Valley College. “He stood up for what he believed in. I learned to speak my mind from him.”
During the 90’s, Love continued to direct programming and a nightly show at KVCR (91.9 FM) at San Bernardino Valley College.
“Sonny brought us “Joy and Happiness” through his music and brought soul into the homes of many with the first African American radio station to the IE. But most importantly, he was a friend. “R.I.P. My sincere condolences to the family,” wrote Patricia Griffen.
Willie Ellison II said that he remembers Love from the 70’s through the 90’s for his music. They became friends when he started working at San Bernardino Valley College.
“We’d always hear him on the radio station, we grew up listening to him. KVCR was one of the [few] soul stations in the I.E. He would throw parties at Valley College.
He retired from Valley College, he moved from the area, and later moved to Springfield, Missouri.
News of his passing is just starting to sink in on Facebook as longtime friends and fans post condolences.
“Thank you for your many gifts to the world, may your love continue to bring comfort to your family…rest easy up there,” wrote Debbie Wilson.
Love was always joking, even at the thought of dying a few weeks ago around his birthday. As some of his friends noted, he was always luring and baiting for a higher debate.
“…Just wondering. Does heaven exist now, and if it does. Who lives there?” Love asked his Facebook friends on September 18.