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Attorneys host radio show to ‘empower’ the community

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Co-hosts of “Perspective,” a radio show featuring discussions on current news and issues with listener call-ins, are pictured from left: Taryn Branson, ’14; Alfreda Tillman Bester, ’99; and Joyce Marie Plummer, former SULC adjunct professor.

Alfreda Tillman Bester, Joyce Marie Plummer, and Taryn Branson come together in a small room at WTQT 106.1 FM in Baton Rouge.

The women, all lawyers by day, gather every Tuesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. to talk about the issues of the day on a radio talk show called “Perspective.” On this day, the conversation led by Bester is about a video that has gone viral showing a White school resource officer in South Carolina grabbing an African-American girl by her neck, flipping her backward, and throwing her across the room. The incident happened at a high school, after the girl was caught using her cell phone and refused to leave the classroom when instructed to by her teacher.

“The officer dragged her!” said Bester, ’99, a native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who serves as general counsel for the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP.   “He handled her as if she was not human.”

The other co-hosts chime in as well — Plummer, a former SULC adjunct professor and a civil rights attorney; and Branson, ‘14, a law clerk for Judge Trudy White in the 19th Judicial District Court.

It’s a lively discussion that also features topics about the low voter turnout in the 2015 Louisiana Primary election and the persons of the week.

“I love it,” Bester says. “It’s a lot of work, but it truly is a labor of love. I’m not practicing law when I’m doing the show, but I’m empowering people. There’s a judge that refers to a lawyer as a mouthpiece, so I’m being a mouthpiece for the people who don’t have a voice.”

“It gives me a great opportunity to bring more awareness and consciousness to the community,” Plummer said.  “I take it very seriously and it’s something I’m very passionate about.”

The radio show features discussions on current news and issues and listeners call in to share their views as well. The cohosts describe it as “a conversation you would have on your front porch.”

Bester and Plummer started the show four years ago. The two met in 2000 when Bester, who graduated in the top seven percent of her class, was suing the Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions to allow her to see the results of her bar exam, which the committee said she had failed. She was denied the opportunity, but the committee later changed the rules so now law students can see their test results.

“I understand people who fight the fight are not necessarily the beneficiaries, but the people who come after them are,” Bester said. “I think it’s a wonderful thing.”

Plummer met Bester at an event and complimented her on her fight.  “I truly respected and admired what she was doing,” said Plummer, who received her law degree from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The two became friends and they started talking about the need for some kind of forum to discuss important issues going on in the city. They came up with the idea of a TV or radio show.  Every time they’d see each other they would talk about doing the show.

They discussed it for about three years and looked at some options, but it never materialized until one day Bester was meeting with another SULC alum Ernest Johnson, ’76, managing partner of Our TV Network/Thought Network Broadcasting, which owns WTQT and several other radio stations in Baton Rouge and Tallulah and television stations in Shreveport, Monroe, and Alexandria, Louisiana

“I was meeting with him on a totally different matter and I saw the radio staff and I told him ‘Ernest, I would like to do a community interest show’ and he said ‘when do you want to start?’ The next morning Joyce called and said ‘Freda we need to talk about doing this radio or talk show.’ And I smiled and told her that I had just spoken to Ernest.”

Two weeks later in March 2012, Bester and Plummer were on the air.  Branson joined the show in February 2015.

“I think they are phenomenal women,” Plummer, said of her cohosts. “I am grateful to be a part of the show and I love it!”

For more information or to listen to the show, go to www.wtqt.org or follow them on twitter @urperspective.