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A Jam Pakt Conversation with Jonzy

Danny Chifley, 24th August 2020

Jam Pakt is a weekly hour of yarns and music to give mob a voice about what really matters to them. 

Produced by Media Heads and broadcasting through the Community Radio Network, the show has been going for about 2 years, and recently passed the 100th episode. We had the host, Jonzy, sit down recently to share his favourite moments of the show.

It's a Jam Pakt conversation with the one and only Jonzy, so read on!

Jonzy with actress, Madeleine MaddenJonzy with 3KND team
Tell us about Jam Pakt - how do you describe it to a new friend? 
Jam Pakt is literally the equivalent of sitting down for a yarn with me around an ice-cold Territory’s own Paul’s Iced Coffee, but on radio! There’ll be jokes and laughter, there’ll be music, there’ll be serious and not-so-serious yarns and there’ll be strong and proud First Nations voices… and you’ll hopefully be left with a good feeling about life.
You've recently gone past 100 episodes of Jam Pakt, that's two years on-air. How is the show feeling different to when you first started? 
I had NO IDEA what I was doing when I first started. Now, I have just a little bit more of an idea… and that’s not a joke! When we started, I’d been interviewed plenty times before, but I’d never hosted or recorded stuff for radio, and I certainly didn’t think I’d ever have my own show, let alone nail 100 episodes. I mean, I can barely sit down for a trilogy movie or series let alone count beyond 3 - coz in the bush, after you spot more than 3 kangaroos it’s just “biggest mob feed time”! So it’s the same with the show, I guess - I got through the first 3 and now I’ve recorded biggest mob. But I’ve learned heaps and of course enjoyed a lot of deadly moments but the difference now is, while I’m preparing to meet someone new and interesting my mind just spins with all the questions I want to ask them in relation to their life, their family, their passions and of course their thoughts on issues affecting Mob all across the country. It’s such a buzz!
What do you want people tuning in to get out of the show?

I want people to hear something new, like a new topic of discussion or a new way of looking at an issue or range of issues, or maybe hear a new song, meet a new person, or even meet a familiar person but in a new way! Or even meet someone who looks at the world through a different lens or perspective, or as I like to say: “a different set of eye-goggles”! I really want people to get a laugh and to feel happy and motivated. “Pukulpa tjunanyi” is a Luritja phrase for giving love and joy, making people happy and making them smile - all the good vibes stuff, regardless of where you come from and what life is throwing at you at the time. Especially mob, young or old, who are struggling with stuff and just need to laugh or feel good and connected while listening to the show. I know that’s helped me in my life - being able to tune in to someone or something that can pump up my flat batteries just for a second to help me face the day.

You have a real knack for speaking directly to a listener, like the show is just for them. Each episode you share some needed advice or truth. How important is it to you to make that personal connection each episode? Do you pretend your 16 year old self is out there tuning in?

Hells yes!!! This speaks to the previous question. I try to remind myself: if I wouldn’t listen to it - as a teenager or even now - because it was boring, irrelevant, or sounded like a grown-up jibber jabbering at me, why would anyone else!? I figure one of the best ways to do that is by being the “real me” - honest, genuine and authentic, but fun and not too serious. Because I always seem to learn so much from the people I interview, I realised that life lessons can be learned through any means and at any time, even on the show. A brief moment of good advice that listeners might hear from a guest or myself might actually be the piece of advice that their friends, family, elders, loved ones, boyfriend/girlfriend or even themselves have been saying or hearing and just needed to be reminded of. It might just be what they needed at that moment in time.

Is there something you hope to hear from each guest you have on the show, something they don't always get to share elsewhere?

For sure! I want to be able to tease out a deep yarn on a topic or issue that we all find hard to face, express and deal with and that we also desperately need help with, as Aboriginal peoples but also as a human race. In that way, I do ask guests to be brave and vulnerable, as I try to be also. Things like cultural identity, personal experiences of prejudice, racism and trauma, suicide and mental health, insecurities, successes and failures in our lives and the big questions like: “Where do black fullas go when we die” or “What’s better, Hungry Blaks or Blakdonalds”? are tough questions to face in just a short time, but if we don’t ask them and attempt to share our responses to them now, when will we ever?

What are some of the yarns and guests you've had that really stick in your head?

So many! And I can’t and won’t ever compare them, but top of the list for sure is Briggs because he was the very first guest on the show and he’s such a strong and unwavering public voice. And the beautiful Deb Mailman! We turned up at Deb’s home for an hour-long interview and 5 hours later, WE WAS STILL THERE!! Haha. Her energy, joy, life story, FASD yarns and her cracked sense of humour (like mine!) plus the fact it was early on in the show and my confidence was down in terms of learning the “radio ropes” really did motivate me to give the show a proper cracka-lackin shot! Other standouts include elders like Archie Roach, Jack Charles, June Oscar, and Ray Martin, and I was so nervous for those interviews, I was shaking like a leaf beforehand! And then there’s the famous TV and film peeps - meeting Madeline Madden was a thrill, just before she went to the US to premiere her Hollywood movie role, and going to the Channel 9 studios to meet Brooke Boney - they were pretty deadly experiences on top of the innumerable community and national stars too!

Jonzy with Media Legend, Ray MartinJonzy with AFL player, Charlie Cameron
You have a segment in Jam Pakt called 'Fire Blak', so we'd like to fire some of those questions at you and you can 'fire blak' the answers...

What was your first job?

I was a veggie boy at the local Bermagui Foodtown Supermarket at around the age of 12! I don’t know if it was legal to employ someone that young at the time with that much responsibility, but I was pretty much the Boss of the Fruit and Vegetable aisle and if you needed ‘em lean and green, Johnnie Boy was the bloke to see! 

What was your worst job?

I’ve had some shockers! When I was around 17 or 18, I found myself digging swimming pools and septic tank holes in the ground in desert country in WA in summertime and with a hand shovel! To give you an idea of what it was like, have you ever tried to dig a sand pit at the beach in 42 degree heat with dry (not wet) sand, and watch the sand just pour back into the hole and into your lungs afterwards? Try doing THAT for a job - it was hell!!

What's the strangest food you've ever eaten?

I love strange food - bush tucker is strange to some, but to me it’s normal so it’s not strange at all. But I guess some people would say feral cat is strange, and yet we eat that all the time! While I was travelling in Cambodia, I ate tarantulas and cockroaches - the furry legs of the spiders were a bit odd, but the abdomen was just like cooked maku (witchetty grub)!

What's the best meal you can cook?

I make a mean kangaroo tail bush stew with heaps of onions, spuds, sweet potato, pumpkin and carrots and also a cracking honey mustard chicken stir-fry… but that’s with a pre-packaged Chicken Tonight sauce so it’s kinda cheating haha.

Best piece of advice your parents ever gave you?

You can always learn from someone and something - full stop. Even if you don’t respect the someone - like an a bad parent/person, an enemy or someone who’s done you wrong – or the something sucks…like the situation you’re in, there’s a lesson to be learned. I still have to ask myself “What’s the lesson here?” all the time, but there is one and it does make you stronger as a result.

You're PM for the day - what's the first thing you do?

Take Question Time out to the bush! I can’t imagine being stuck in that concrete building in Canberra. Yarning is best done where it was created from. Plus I’d love to see how long the politicians can talk with all those the flies in summertime. But that’s probably why no-one wants me as PM 

What's your go-to karaoke song?

Without a doubt it would be either Hanging By a Moment / Lifehouse or if it was a duet, that song from the movie Grease - You’re the One That I Want.

What's your greatest fear?

Not fulfilling the purpose for why I was placed in this world or doing a crappy job of it before I die. Whether it be family, community, culture, or my role in this world in general – I’d like to know that I when I die, I fulfilled my purpose, learned my lessons well and gave and received love every step of the way.

Your greatest achievement?

My 4-year-old daughter Gracie Nungarrayi-Summer. She is my greatest accomplishment ever.

Do you scrunch or fold your toilet paper?

Out bush, I definitely scrunch if there’s paper! Or use sand coz it’s clean and readily available… plus there’s no one fighting over it in the shopping aisle. I’m dead serious! But recently at home, I installed a bidet seat from Bunnings and the magic of that water jet technology makes a trip to the kuna-bowl a very memorable one!!

Finally, you can take 3 things to a desert island - what are they? 

Number 1: my guitar, for song writing and general chill time. It could also be used as fire wood and fishing line.

Number 2: Territory’s Own Paul’s Iced Coffee. There’s no way I’m going anywhere without it!

Number 3: My red heeler, Bundi. He’s good company, can keep me warm, can fight crocodiles and sharks for me (or at least be a snack distraction while I swim away!) and could possibly hunt me a wild, boar, bush turkey or goanna for supper!

Jam Pakt

For Community Radio Network subscribers:
  • Broadcasting through satellite on the Community Radio Network on Saturdays at 19:00 pm AEST/AEDT
  • Repeats on satellite Wednesdays at 00:06am AEST/AEDT
  • Segmented into three parts of varying length, and delivered as three seperate files - so stations can schedule what works best for them
  • DDN equipped stations can capture the series by ordering 'Jam Pakt Pt 1, Jam Pakt Pt 2 and Jam Pakt Pt 3'
  • For more information contact Community Radio Network staff on 02 9310 2999 or email [email protected]
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