Jesse the storyteller

Jesse Cox (1986-2017) was a Walkley award winning radio producer with a passion for storytelling. He developed innovative programming for Sydney's FBi Radio, ABC Radio National, and was head of Original Content at Audible's APAC office.

Jesse sought out the unexpected, constantly pushed form and fostered new talent. In a short span of time, Jesse Cox changed the sound of Australian radio and our expectations of audio storytelling.

To get a sense of what captivated Jesse, and the stories he wove to captivate others in turn, please enjoy this selection of his work below (with thanks to ABC RN for allowing us to feature these stories from their collection).


The Real Tom Banks

When you’re online you can be whoever you want to be. So who is The real Tom Banks?

 
Tom Banks performing at Platform Youth Theatre (reproduced with permission of ABC)

Tom Banks performing at Platform Youth Theatre (reproduced with permission of ABC)

Tom Banks is 23, gay, and searching for love. Growing up on a farm outside of Geelong in Victoria, he lacked any gay influence in his life, so as a teenager he turned to the internet to meet others and get advice. Having spent countless hours in chat rooms and on internet dating sites, Tom is now a bit of an expert when it comes to meeting guys online. And he has learned that when you're online you can be whoever you want to be. So who is The real Tom Banks?

The real Tom Banks won the Best Documentary Silver Award at the 2014 Third Coast International Audio Festival.

First featured on ABC RN and reproduced here with thanks.


Keep Them Guessing

A story of magic, illusion and a family secret. 

Lesley and Syd Piddington doing their show

Lesley and Syd Piddington doing their show

During the 1950s Australian couple Syd and Lesley Piddington rose to radio stardom in London with a mind reading radio show called ‘The Piddingtons’. Syd and Lesley created a huge amount of controversy by refusing to say if what they did was real telepathy or just a magic trick. They always ended every broadcast by saying ‘You Are the Judge’ and each week 20 million people tuned in to the BBC to listen.

Some of those recordings survived and now, over 60 years since they were first heard, their grandson and radio producer Jesse Cox has found them and sets out to discover how they did it.

Keep them guessing won the Third Coast Audio Festival Director's Choice Award.

First featured on ABC RN and reproduced here with thanks.


Wael Zuaiter: Unknown

A story of love, murder and mystery spanning the Middle East and Europe and playing out on the streets of 1970s Rome against the backdrop of Israeli-Palestinian tensions. 

Wael Zuaiter lies in a pool of blood, his copy of A Thousand and One Nights still in his pocket. (Illustration by Matt Huynh)

Wael Zuaiter lies in a pool of blood, his copy of A Thousand and One Nights still in his pocket. (Illustration by Matt Huynh)

In 1972, Palestinian writer and translator Wael Zuaiter was assassinated by a Mossad hit team. Zuaiter had been accused of being involved in the Olympics-based Munich massacre, and was targeted by Israel's secret service in a counter-terrorism operation born from the aftermath of Munich. At the time of his death, Zuaiter had become Al Fatah's official representative working for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in Rome, translating the Palestinian paper into Italian and meeting with Italian journalists and politicians to discuss the Middle East.

To this day there remain conflicting theories about why Zuaiter was targeted. Was he involved in terrorism or was he becoming too influential in Italian politics, advocating for Palestine? Or perhaps most tragically: was it a mistake, a hastily conceived plan resulting from inaccurate intelligence?

The story of Zuaiter's life and death also has an unusual connection to Australia. His fiance was Australian painter Janet Venn-Brown, who happens to be Jesse’s great aunt.

Zuaiter's story is wrapped in the symbolism of the Arabic folk tales from One Thousand and One Nights. At the time of his death, Wael was translating the original Arabic into Italian, an unprecedented endeavour. At his funeral, Zuaiter's close friend, Italian intellectual and author Alberto Moravia, spoke of this connection in his eulogy.

This radio feature was adapted from the stage production of the same name presented by Next Wave Festival and Theatre Works in 2014 and developed from Radio with Pictures.

First featured on ABC RN and reproduced here with thanks.