Jon Tjhia is a Melbourne-born radio maker, musician and writer whose career-long focus has been on dissolving distinctions between pop and experimental forms. He is the co-founder of the podcast Paper Radio, and from 2010–2020 worked as the Wheeler Centre’s senior digital editor – where (amongst other things) he produced audio features and podcasts including Better Off Dead, Housekeeping and The Messenger.
He has been an audio artist-in-residence at Wiluna Remote Community School, Western Australia, performed radio stories live onstage at Arts Centre Melbourne and Sydney Opera House, and co-written the audio guide for NGV’s Monet’s Garden exhibition.
In 2010, with collaborator Jessie Borrelle, Jon created Paper Radio – a podcast bringing high production values and ambitious sound design to stories (both tall and true) from Australia and New Zealand. The podcast and its works have been featured on Radio National, WBEZ (USA), CBC (Canada); at Manchester Literature Festival and the Barbican Centre (UK), on the podcast The Truth, and profiled in the New Yorker and the Age.
Working for the Wheeler Centre, Jon was part of the team that produced the podcast Better Off Dead – a collaboration with Andrew Denton, exploring voluntary assisted dying. It was a finalist at the 2016 New York Festivals Radio Awards. Since 2016, he’s been working on The Messenger, which delves into the life of Abdul Aziz Muhamat – a refugee held in the Australian-run Manus Island immigration detention centre in Papua New Guinea. (The series has won several awards, including Grand Trophy at 2017 New York Festivals, radio awards at UNAA Media Peace Awards and Walkley Awards and an Australian Human Rights Commission prize. It was also runner-up in the Quills, and Whicker’s Documentary Audio Recognition Award.)
Jon’s pitch for a new podcast, Reflected Message, placed as a top ten semi-finalist in Radiotopia’s inaugural ‘Podquest’. The pitch outlined an approach informed by popular music, narrative features and abstract sound work. He’s currently working on other projects exploring the same territory. He plays and produces music with Speed Painters.