Walkley Award-winning radio producer dies of rare cancer at 31

Walkley Award-winning radio producer and Sydney father Jesse Cox, 31, died suddenly this week from a rare soft tissue cancer that spread unexpectedly to his brain, according to his family.

Cox was husband to ABC TV executive producer Que Minh Luu, father to two-year-old Alfred Dao, son of Louise Cox and Mark Piddington, and brother of novelist Jack Cox.

Cox, who won this year's Innovation Walkley for ABC Radio's Trace podcast with journalist Rachael Brown and Jeremy Story Carter, had slow-growing cancer alveolar soft part sarcoma (ASPS). But what his loved ones wanted people to remember him for was being an indefatigable award-winning radio-maker, lover of the outdoors and camping (to the point where his fashion was so dominated by high-end camping gear that friends labelled it "high camp") and - despite being a high-achiever already - someone who "was on the cusp of doing so much more".

"He was always willing to get his hands dirty," said his wife. "With the Trace podcast, he was there at two in the morning and didn't leave if something needed to be done. People knew he could be relied on. He never talked about his achievements as such, always just what could be done better."

Cox won silver for best documentary at the Third Coast International Audio Festival for The Real Tom Banks in 2014 and the director's choice for Keep them Guessing in 2013 (a radio documentary about his grandparents, Syd and Lesley Piddington). He was one of the creators and executive producers of All the Best, FBi Radio's nationally distributed documentary and storytelling program.

At the ABC, he hosted and produced Long Story Short with Mike Williams on Radio National, hosted Radiotonic and created This is About with Sophie Townsend and Belinda Lopez, working with Lopez, Jess Bineth and Jordan Raskopoulos.

He worked for Radio National for more than four years before leaving to Amazon audio entertainment company Audible.

Cox's parents and brother championed his spirit of adventure and indomitable inclusiveness that "brought people along with him everywhere he went".

"From when he was small Jesse had big and bold ideas, making things, gathering lots of people, telling and recording stories. He was full of love, passion and joy, with an infinite sense of possibility," they said in a statement.

Luu said that her husband actively cultivated teams from different ethnic, gender, sexuality and different ability backgrounds from his own.

"Jesse was this perfect mix of the creative and organised. What was important to him was creating projects and work that had an ongoing legacy," she said. "A show was never about him; it was always about the stories and making platforms so generations of other people could take it over and make it their own."

Longtime friend and ABC personality Benjamin Law said he and partner Scott befriended the couple when they moved to Sydney from Queensland.

"I struggle to think of a friendship we slipped into more easily... Jesse was generous with his time and love. He always made you want to be a better human and brave storyteller," he wrote in a Facebook post.

Director of ABC Radio, Michael Mason, called Cox's career in audio "a stellar one", including producing "ABC's most successful podcast" and first true-crime serial Trace.

"The people who worked with Jesse loved his energy, his enthusiasm and the breakneck speed with which he 'got shit done' (his phrase). He loved the work he did. He loved creating, debating, sharing, structuring. He loved spreadsheets in a way no one could really comprehend," Mr Mason said.

"Jesse left us this year for adventures at Audible, but we always thought he'd come back. He was still very much a part of the family, and colleagues checked in with him regularly to test their ideas, ask advice, or simply to talk through their projects. After a coffee with Jesse, they always felt a little surer of themselves and their work."

This story Walkley Award-winning radio producer dies of rare cancer at 31 first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.