Despite a minor heart attack within the last month Reverend Tyson Haywood still hosts his 5 a.m. radio show every Sunday morning.
Along with the heart attack, he has had to deal with a knee replacement and epilepsy. The knee replacement has made it difficult for Haywood to climb the stairs to the station on the fourth floor of George Davis Hall. Still, he scales the plethora of stairs every Sunday.
The epilepsy, that started to cause seizures around age ten, has become less of an issue, only changing his voice at times because of a surgery that happened seven years ago. The epilepsy came about after his brother shot him with a “.38 Police Special” that his father owned when he was six. The bullet is still lodged in his head and he is missing some bone from where it entered. After he was shot, he became paralyzed and lost his eyesight. This was not the end of his struggle. He also could not recognize anyone around him including his parents. Overcoming these difficulties has instilled in him a mentality that he is blessed to be alive.
Twenty-five years ago, Haywood started his radio show playing mainly jazz music, but within the first year, he switched over to gospel.
He has continued his radio show through thick and thin because it is a part of his ministry. He has a large variety of guests from around the country who help him preach and help him with his music selection. Another important reason he continues with this radio show, specifically on WVKC, is to try to break down the separation between Knox College and Galesburg.
“I can encourage the community and also, for the Knox students, I get an opportunity to hope that I can bring them even to my home to feed them because I know you sometimes miss that home-cooking,” said Haywood.
He plays many types of gospel including urban and the more traditional gospel. Haywood’s station is a lively mix of music that is a great way to start the Sunday morning off on the right foot. He is most famous on the Knox campus for the different voices he uses during his show.
Haywood has advice for Knox students, “Continue. Education is a very, very important tool and not to play with it because there are a lot of people like myself who didn’t get that opportunity […] Get in those books and come to be somebody because you are somebody,” he said.
When Haywood is not hosting his radio show, he preaches at the Community Temple Church Of God in Christ and travels around the country as part of his nonprofit ministry, Gospel Roots Ministry. In years past ,he has hosted a local Gospel Fest in Galesburg and hopes to host another one soon here at Knox College.
Haywood hopes to start an Internet radio broadcast to reach more listeners. He plans on continuing his show on the radio for another five years before retirement. He hopes to move to a different time because it has become more difficult for him to wake up at 4 a.m., but he will remain at his 5 to 10 a.m. timeslot for the rest of the year.