Volunteer making airwaves

Open mic: Ken Jones isn't just a radio presenter. He's also a tireless community volunteer. Picture: DARREN HOWE
Open mic: Ken Jones isn't just a radio presenter. He's also a tireless community volunteer. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Ken Jones says the most important reason to volunteer is to help people.

“I don’t like to use the words ‘less fortunate’, because often people are more fortunate than others. But there is a need to help people.”

Yesterday Mr Jones returned to the airwaves for another year with Phoenix FM’s Breakfast in Bendigo show.

This morning Vision Australia radio listeners will hear him read the local newspapers.

“I’ve been doing community radio for 15 years, ever since I retired’ he said.

“You can’t sit around and do nothing. There’s this thing called people skills. And if you don’t keep interacting with people you lose your people skills. You sit at home with your television all day, every day.

“Phoenix FM gives me something to do, to have some input back into the community.”

Mr Jones presents Phoenix FM’s Breakfast in Bendigo program every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He also panels a show on Thursdays for a presenter who has a vision impairment. 

“That’s the four shows I do. But there’s always a presenter who’s not coming in for some reason or other.” 

His volunteer work with Phoenix began four years ago. Mr Jones was in the car listening to the radio when the call went out for more presenters.

“I thought I’d drop in and have a look.”

On air, Mr Jones is known as a bit of a larrikin. 

"That song was called You Can Play The Fiddle. Well I guess you can do anything you put your mind to, can't you?" he said last year with of his dry, deadpan humour.

He said sometimes his sense of humour gets him into trouble, but mostly people responded positively.

“And these blokes said ‘we can’t find anything to do’. At that stage I was knocking back things to do.”

Ken Jones

And his volunteer work doesn’t end when he leaves the radio studio.

He’s a regular fixture at local nursing homes, where he recites bush poetry and calls bingo. He’s also a companion peer worker with Compeer, a program creating one-to-one friendship with a socially isolated adult living with a mental illness. 

He said there were always opportunities to volunteer.

“Some years back all these young blokes were playing up down the Mall and a journalist interviewed them.

“And these blokes said ‘we can’t find anything to do’. At that stage I was knocking back things to do.”

He said people had to make the most of what they had. 

“There are other people around who go out volunteering for BlazeAid and things like that. I can’t physically do that,” he said – a reference to the fact he is a double amputee.

“But I can do all of this.”

To listen to Breakfast in Bendigo, tune into Phoenix FM, 106.7 FM every weekday between 7am and 9am.