After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Paul Ingles and Suzanne Kryder were inspired to start a radio show to preserve some of the media space for non-partisan conversation about peacemaking and functional conflict resolution strategies.
“It was very scary when it happened and we wanted to do something,” Kryder said. “We felt like if people just sat and were more scared they weren’t taking action to change things. So that was our major motivation.”
The duo hoped PEACE TALKS RADIO would empower listeners by providing a tool kit to manage conflict in their own lives, and by sharing stories about people who were working for peace around the globe.
“I think that one of the chief missions was to touch on awareness of world issues and how it all links together,” Kryder said.
PEACE TALKS RADIO started off as a monthly show on local public radio station KUNM in 2003. Fast forward 20 years and PEACE TALKS RADIO is now heard every week on a network of 85 stations in 25 states, and heard on multiple podcast platforms.
“I’ve been a radio professional for 47 years, so it’s so close to my heart, in terms of how impactful it’s been in my life,” Ingles said. “When my career started at Wake Forest University, National Public Radio was just becoming an entity and I have been listening all along and been so inspired by how well the public radio sphere has kept thoughtful space. So I can’t shake the impact that it’s had on me, that keeps me moving forward.”
A special anniversary broadcast is set for 8 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, on KUNM (89.9 FM).
“But it’s like our other anniversary specials, which we did in the 10th and 15th years as it will be primarily focused on again, elevating the voices of the people that we’ve talked with, who have put themselves into a place of responsibility for our world to talk about conflict resolution and peacemaking,” Ingles said. “So that’s my goal, that people listening for that hour will get a sense of that.”
With so many moments and episodes, the two have had a few that stood out in their eyes.
“I love the first episode ever recorded which was with a meditation teacher of mine,” Kryder said. “I really feel it was my best interview ever and it was my first one essentially. We recorded it in July of 2002, so it was less than a year after the 9/11 attacks.”
For Ingles, there were multiple instances.
“I think a couple that stand out were ones that our former host Carol Boss did in interviewing Vietnam veterans, who through a special program went back to Vietnam to sit down with their former enemies,” Ingles said. “To hear them tell those stories about being welcomed by their former enemies with open arms and love can’t help but move you and make you recognize the possibilities for peacemaking in all of our lives.”
There was also an incident where a school shooting almost occurred.
“Another one that come to mind was the story of an administrative assistant and the principals and the school office of a school in Atlanta where a young man came in, fully loaded to shoot up the school,” Ingles said. “This woman talked him down just by being kind and empathetic to the fact that the young man was troubled and she managed to talk kindly to him long enough that the authorities were able to come in and she talked him into just laying down on the ground so that there wouldn’t be a big mess when the authorities came in.”
Viewers got to listen in live as the situation unfolded.
“There was a 911 call that she had opened that whole time and our program essentially presents the 911 call and to hear it happening in real time,” Ingles said.
For Kryder, spreading optimism is one of the biggest reasons she is in radio.
“A big part of this motivation was also wanting to bring something to the media that wasn’t so negative as we have seen an increase in the negativity in the media,” Kryder said. “But we are trying to show people what is possible as we know it’s really hard to be human and to have all these negative thoughts and negative biases.”
Two decades later and the duo are still providing positivity to the masses.
“My whole thing with this program was realizing that all the violence in the world begins with someone’s mind,” Kryder said. “Someone decides they are going to do something negative, but somebody can decide they can do something positive, like all so what we’re trying to do in this program is introduce people to all the amazing human beings.”