An answering machine message started Papa J’s Aussie radio journey

Noongar Radio Perth is currently seeking expressions of interest for more volunteers.

One of the station’s current high profile volunteers, Papa J tells the story of how he came to volunteer at the station to Marley Amphlett.


Raymond ‘Pappa J’ Jones has been lending his smooth, Barry White-esque voice to Noongar Radio’s ‘Motown Get Down’ program for almost six years. Despite his popularity among listeners and the Noongar Radio family, he remains humble:

“I do not classify myself as an icon. I am as average as the next person. I love it here at Noongar Radio. We come together as family. When you walk through those doors, you’re family. You feel comfortable. When someone decides to step up and represent Noongar Radio in a good light they’re appreciative of that.” said Pappa J, warmly.

Pappa J is friendly, approachable and loves to play blues and soul music for his listeners. Some of them even tuning in from as far as New York, Pappa J’s city of origin- Meaning that Noongar Radio has international outreach! “People from New York can listen to the program and they do! Mom put it out to everybody that I am on the radio. So, from 5-7am on a Monday morning, I am on in America.” Explained Pappa J, laughing enthusiastically.

It was just over two decades ago that Pappa J made the decision to move to Australia. What prompted this decision was a fateful message left on an answering machine in an empty house. “I was in California, America when I realized that I had run out of money. I got back on the train. I called my Mom. I said ‘I’m comin’ back home’.” Said Pappa J. “So I wind up in New York. No one was home when I went into the house. But the flashing light was on the answering machine. So, I said ‘Oh shucks …maybe Mom left me a message.” Pappa J pressed the flashing button and heard a loud, familiar voice asking ‘When is somebody comin’ to visit me?!’

“I thought ‘Oh shucks! I know where I’m goin’-I am goin’ to Australia!’ because that was my brother, from Australia! ‘So we then made the arrangements to come to Australia. And I did!”

In 1995, the year that Pappa J immigrated to Australia, New York had a population of approximately 7 million people. To this day New York is known as ‘The city that never sleeps’. So how did this compare to Perth, the most isolated city in the world?

“When I first came, of course, I was scared to death! You leave from millions of people to come to a place where there’s no one-Oh lord I was scared! -I said ‘Whoa! Shucks! Where is everybody?! HELLO!’ I came down the escalator and I saw my brother and he was the only one in the whole airport!” It appeared that Pappa J was experiencing a bit of a culture shock!

Pappa J describes his first taste of Perth after leaving the airport.

“We were on the freeway going home and it was 80km p/h. [My brother] says ‘See now we are running into traffic’ I said ‘Traffic?!’ and he says “Oh oh! Yeah, no, this is Australian traffic, not New York traffic!

It was 6 o clock nothing was open! Not even a petrol station, man this can’t be! I said ‘No, no, I can’t live like this man!’ But what happened was, I was here for three months and I then…fell in love. So (my brother) sponsored me here. So here I am, 22 years later!”

Pappa J has recently been making guest appearances on Jeremy Garletts’ “Afternoons” program, along with Trudy Snow, founder and personal trainer at ‘Creating your future.’ Pappa J comes across as a progressive thinker and was prepared to discuss on air, issues such as racism, the recent postal survey results regarding same sex marriage and the dual citizenship crisis within Australian politics.

Listeners wanting to check out ‘The Motown Get down’ can do so on a Monday evening from 6.00pm-8.00pm.

Pappa J hopes to educate new listeners about the Motown genre. “A lot of people don’t know about Motown so they like listening. If you listen to my program you will get to know Motown.

When I am asking someone what type of music they like I am listening out for the genre, and if I hear the genre that is consistent with Motown then I say “Hey, have a listen to 100.9fm”. Motown is something that I like to play for people, after work kicking their shoes off and relaxing.”

Pappa J offers a description of his show, for those who haven’t heard it yet, but are considering checking it out.

“My program is a listening program. It’s not an interactive program. People love to hear Motown. I am also unusual in my deliveries because I announce the song and I back announce the song and that’s every song throughout the program. So, no one misses the name of the song and the artist.” Pappa J explained he continued to use that format based on positive feedback he received.

“I was at a concert in Mandurah where The Merindas’ were playing. And they said ‘Pappa J is in the audience’ and everybody, even the events coordinator came over and said ‘I love your program!’ he and a few members of the audience said ‘I am going to tell you exactly why I love your program-because you announce the song at the beginning and you back announce the song at the end.

So, you don’t miss who, and what the name of the song was. So, when they gave that feedback to me, I took that and I ran with it and that’s the way I have been doing every single program.”

Pappa J has a sincere love for the family that is Noongar Radio. “I can tell you now that since I have been a part of Noongar Radio I have enjoyed and come to know all the presenters, who have given me the help that I’ve needed and I am very appreciative of that. And I love Noongar Radio as family! They are my family. There’s no question about that.”

Pappa J expresses a lot of respect for Noongar Radio manager, Paul Whitton: “When I first came [to 100.9fm] I felt a bit intimidated but then as people moved around and I started to feel and see the difference, Paul came in to be manager, the whole thing just absolutely went viral. The feeling of family was like WHOA! From one end to the other! I credit Paul!” It is evident that there is mutual respect between all those involved with the running of the station. Including the listeners.

“Noongar Radio 100.9fm is your station” explained Pappa J, describing the impact that listeners can have. He just has one small request “Help your station become number 1 in Perth!” he said with undeniable enthusiasm.

Noongar Radio is currently seeking expressions of interest for volunteers, willing to lend their time to the station. So, would Pappa J like to see more faces come through the doors of Noongar Radio?

“Absolutely! Absolutely! Without a doubt. You can be indigenous or non-indigenous. It doesn’t matter. Even your story could be told! Share your story if you have one! It’s diverse. Each individual is treated as the individual and who you are is who you are and that’s it!

If you are serious about wanting to become a radio presenter, then Noongar Radio will make sure that happens. The family environment that you come into you will feel straight away. There is no reason why you wouldn’t want to become a member of our volunteers for Noongar Radio.”

Pappa J wants potential volunteers to know, that there is no such thing as a silly question at Noongar Radio, and it won’t be long before you will feel that sense of belonging and family. A family, which no matter how long you have been a part of, will always be willing to listen and teach. “I am coming up to six years, next year. There’s still things that I don’t know. I will be broadening my horizons”

Pappa J continues to demonstrate his admiration for a place he now considers home.

“It’s genuine at Noongar Radio. I couldn’t be at a better place. When I am in Perth, Noongar Radio is home for me.”

Pappa J joins WA’s original Aboriginal broadcaster Jeremy Garlett for Breakfast filling in for the Norty Broz, from January 15 to 19.

To volunteer at Noongar Radio call 08 9228 0606 during office hours or email [email protected]


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