MICHAEL "QSENG" JONES
Friends recall Michael Jones, shown with Valery O'Brien, left, and Helene "Sam" Shenkus, as fun and spontaneous.
Former isle deejay
amused and outraged
KQMQ's star host of the
1980s dies of a heart attack
while on holiday in Thailand
A former Honolulu disk jockey who was regarded as one of the pioneers of morning talk radio on the island in the 1980s died yesterday while vacationing in Thailand.
Michael Jones, who was known by his on-air name Michael Qseng, in honor of his mother, Magdalena Quiseng Jones, died of a heart attack while in a hotel pool in Bangkok. Longtime friend Helene "Sam" Shenkus said arrangements are being made to bring Jones' body back to Honolulu for funeral services.
"We're working with the American and Thai embassies now," Shenkus said. "I just got the call at 6 in the morning from his mother."
"He was a dear, dear friend," she said.
Shenkus was a publicist at Ala Moana Center 21 years ago when she met Jones, who was a morning radio deejay for 93.1 KQMQ. Jones worked there from 1984 to 1993.
Former KQMQ program director Kimo Akane remembers hiring Jones and how his on-air antics helped propel the station to No. 1 for 2 1/2 years, from 1988 to 1990.
"He made this Super Bowl bet one year and said if he lost, he'd jet-ski down the Ala Wai Canal," said Akane, who is now a consultant for Cox Radio. "He ended up losing, and he did jet-ski down the Ala Wai, but he did it wearing a purple hula skirt and a tuxedo.
"He was a hit from the very beginning," he said. "He did outrageous and crazy things, and he called things like he saw it."
Those who remember his antics said Jones was controversial before controversy became the norm among Honolulu radio deejays. One of his more infamous on-air pranks involved a breast implant giveaway, but only the silicone implant and not the surgical operation.
"Oh boy, we got some heat for that," said Chris Chang, Jones' morning show producer at KQMQ from 1986 to 1993. "It was just a silly giveaway, but we had tons of people entering to win this implant, and women's rights groups were protesting and everything."
While fun and spontaneous, Jones was known for working hard on his radio show, arriving at 3:30 a.m. for the 5 a.m. show, "Morning Madness with Michael Qseng and Danielle Tucker."
Tucker said even her reactions to Jones' comments were part of his strategy.
"He never told me what he had planned. That way, everything I said was spontaneous," said Tucker, who worked with Jones from 1985 to 1991. "It was like a marriage. I spent more time with him than I did with my own family."
Jones was born in Texas, and he lived in Waipahu as a teenager while his father served as the minister of Waipahu Baptist Church. He returned to Texas for college and began his radio career, including stints at KRLY and KLOL in Houston. Later, he worked in New York City before coming to Hawaii in 1984. After his years at KQMQ, he worked at two other radio stations.
According to family and friends, Jones returned to Texas in 1997 to support his sister's battle with cancer. In 2000 he created an Internet-based travel agency and spent most of his time traveling the world from his Amsterdam, Netherlands, headquarters.
Jones' age was a tightly held secret. Throughout his career, he would never discuss how old he was and would only say that he was born on Aug. 2.
"The running joke was the longer you knew Michael, the older you got," Shenkus said.
He is survived by his mother and his sister, Shirley Jones. Funeral details are pending with Mililani Memorial Park & Mortuary.