Obituary: Rhonda Jankovic

By Santo Cazzati

Written on November 26

It was a shock to hear today of the death of Rhonda. We knew she was battling against cancer with no prospects but we did expect her to go on into next year. This death has been too sudden and has robbed us all of much beautiful work which Rhonda was expecting to complete for her and our satisfaction.

Rhonda presented two radio programmes on 3CR over about ten years. It was her idea to launch the Spoken Word programme from scratch at the end of 2008. She cast out into Melbourne’s grassroots poetry community with very little knowledge of it or contact with its members. Her passion, precision and persistence created four pilot programmes with a number of us poets and after the one in which I was involved, she asked me if I would like to join her in creating a regular programme.

I said yes without thinking about it very much and soon discovered that Rhonda had great determination and thoroughness about this project. I stuck with her not fully realising at first just how much energy and thought she was putting into it all. Months later, when we got the programme off the ground in its still now regular timeslot of every Thursday morning, I realised her vision had in fact completely sucked me in and had made me realise a number of important aspirations of my own – to archive Melbourne’s amazing cutting edge grassroots poetry talent and innovation; to share the intimacy of the radio studio with poets and friends I admire on our scene; to be part of a genuinely independent non-corporate left progressive media outlet; to live my long forgotten childhood fantasy of being a radio voice.

Rhonda knew that all of the presenters we used on Spoken Word had very different styles and strengths and celebrated this fact while still attempting an overall unified vision for the show. Her own on air style was distinctly calm and super organised. While I could match her in organisational skills (whi