Tune in for wisdom

Tyree and Jesca Byndom share their faith and curiosities with the community on Columbia's airwaves
Sunday, August 3, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:52 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tyree and Jesca Byndom aren’t on the radio because they like to have people listen to them. They’re on the radio because they like to have people talk back.

The pair host the weekly talk-radio show “KORE Issues,” featured on KOPN/89.5 FM at 5 p.m. every Saturday. They bill the program as “a live talk show on global issues with a hometown feel,” and they mean it.

“They don’t deal with issues aimed at a particular constituency. They bring cultural diversity to the airwaves,” said Dan Zerr, programming committee chair and board member at KOPN.

That diversity includes not only a communal discussion of topics, but also a public sharing of the couple’s faith and music.

“We always have what’s called a ‘spiritual portion,’ which is the third wave of the show,” said Jesca, 24. “It’s there that we refer to the Quran, the Bible, the Baha’i writings — any spiritual scripture that addresses whatever topic we’re discussing.”

Previous shows have addressed topics such as Rastafarianism, skinheads, stand-up comedy and the history of Columbia.

“A lot of our stuff is just one word — ‘Power: What is it?’ ‘Goth: What is it?’ because most people don’t have any idea. They just know stereotypes,” Tyree, 31, said.

“We’re sneakily trying to educate ourselves. If we don’t know something, we figure there are probably others in the community who are curious also.”

One show that particularly stands out for Tyree was “Global Governance.” That Saturday, co-hosts and listeners discussed the responsibilities of leadership, the duties of the governed and various means of holding people accountable.

“The show was so serious, people were calling in to tell us to lighten the mood,” Tyree said. “I understand that people don’t always want to sit in seriousness, but sometimes you have to force them to, if even for a half-hour.”

Each week, KORE Issues begins with a song performed by Tyree and Jesca, who have been married since June, and Tyree’s mother, Debra Byndom, who has helped co-host the program for the past year.

During the first segment, the group presents facts and figures about the evening’s topic, before moving on to the discussion portion of the show and closing with spiritual reflection.

“Basically we have live consultations on the air, and I just love it, because I learn a lot and it gives me the opportunity to share my thoughts and to have people call in and share what they are feeling and thinking about something,” Jesca said. “Sometimes they disagree, and that’s OK — with a clash of opinion comes a spark of truth.”

The pair, who perform together as “The Katalyzts,” often include some of their own music within the program — rap-style compositions with a positive message.

Tyree and Jesca’s show has attracted what one listener described as a group of “die-hard regulars,” who tune in and call in to the program on a near-weekly basis.

“It’s a sweet learning experience,” said Elise Brion, one regular of the program. “There’s a great vibe between Tyree and Jesca. They discuss topics you don’t normally hear on other talk shows.”

Brion also appreciates that though Tyree and Jesca are both Baha’i, they attempt to include a diversity of spiritual voices at the close of their show.

“They’re not just spouting off Baha’i ideology. Their purpose is to spread wisdom,” Brion said.

“It’s not necessarily a Baha’i show, but in a way it is, because a big chunk of our life is our faith,” said Jesca of the program’s spiritual nature.

“It’s pretty great to be able to share our faith on the air like that,” she continued. “I really believe that there are many people that it’s right for who are searching. Not everybody, but it’s great to have an opportunity to let people learn about something new like that.”

Tyree, who estimates that the show closes with a Baha’i reading or reflection at least 90 percent of the time, agrees.

“The show doesn’t necessarily give a Baha’i perspective, but it does because of our lives. That’s just who we are,” he said. “You’ve got to give it up to who made you what you are.”

Tyree initially began airing KORE Issues on his own in January 2001. Jesca joined him in March, after completing a year of service at the Bosch Baha’i School in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Disillusioned with the state of the rap music industry, and disheartened by the effect it produced on society, Tyree felt “blessed by opportunity” when a friend let him know of a program opening at the community radio station.

“I started doing something by being the change that I wanted to see, instead of complaining about and adding fuel to the inconsistencies in the world,” Tyree said. “The radio show is just one aspect of that. And the music’s an aspect.”

In a presentation to KOPN’s board of directors, whose approval was needed to move forward with the show, Tyree said: “When you see something that needs to be done in the community, you’ve got two choices. You can either sweep it under the rug, or you can do something about it. I’m here to do something about it. Are you going to help me, or hinder me?”

“When I put it that way, they had to help me,” Tyree recalls with a laugh.

Their ambition is to travel the country in a van, touring as a married, Baha’i duo, and to start their own music production company.

“My calling is the radio and my destiny is my music,” Tyree said. “Right now, we’re both pursuing our destiny,” he said of the future he envisions for him and Jesca. “Not many people know their destinies, so we’re blessed.”

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