Wednesday, January 20, 2016

DJ Rayon Payne


For a long time I thought that Rayon "Junior" Payne was a myth. I thought he was an internet hoax. It seemed impossible that one person be capable of everything he accomplished and also guilty of everything he was accused of. It turns out he is a real person. He is reputed to be the only man in U.S. history who was sent to prison for operating an unlicensed radio network. 

Payne was born Keko Mardi in 1974 in Guyana, South America, and was raised in Brooklyn, NY. He established his first known pirate radio station in Orlando, FL. It operated on 95.9FM. He and Benjamin Leroy Carter, aka Malik "Copafeel" founded the station in 1996. Copafeel operated two more pirate stations on 93.5-FM and 93.9-FM. This may be the "network" in question.  But it was popular, in August of 2000 he was on the cover of Orlando Weekly newspaper. They called him the "pirate king." More here.


On 95live he hosted a talk show called Afternoon Crash using the on air name NSX weekdays with Co- Host Maestro &Chaos, and producer Micheal "Cheda" Rich. His high profile brought the inevitable raid. Five federal marshals and a some FCCagents were dismantled equipment at 93.5-FM and 93.9-FM coordinated with a separate raid at 95live. Copafeel reported to the Orlando Weekly that they took six hours to remove everything from his office totaling  more than $50,000 worth of property. Copafeel was charged with seven counts of unlicensed operation. He pled guilty. Inexplicably Payne chose to go back on air. More here.

But Payne had bigger problems. He had been arrested for fraud with stolen credit cards. In March 2000, he pled no contest to two third-degree felonies: possession of stolen credit cards and scheming to defraud a business. He received five years probation. Instead of lying low, he is rumored to have started another pirate station in Miami. While on appeal and operating 95live, he assaulted a studio guest and was charged with with six more felonies, including battery, robbery and false imprisonment. Payne accepted a plea bargain on a charge of first-degree misdemeanor battery. Inexplicably s part of the plea agreement, Judge Wattles ordered Orlando PD to return 95Live's radio equipment. More here.

While on probation he was arrested for sexual battery and went to trial on August of 2002. He was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years, and another 10 for probation violation. 2003 they finally got around to indicting him for his pirate radio activities. He pled guilty to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to a concurrent 9 months in Federal prison. Payne appealed both of his state convictions and lost. DHS tried to deport him. He is currently on appeal. In 2006 he bought the domain myspaceradio.com and launched an unlicensed royalty-free music platform as an LLC. That didn't work either. Myspace was kind and didn't crush him, they only took it to arbitration in 2011. More here.