DJ Spoony says BEM ‘is as much for our community as it is for me’

DJ Spoony has dedicated his British Empire Medal (BEM) to his community and late mother, who taught him to express himself and “gave me rhythm”.

The DJ and presenter, 52, whose real name is Johnathan Joseph, has been recognised for his services to charity through music during the Covid-19 pandemic.

DJ Spoony hosts a regular show on BBC Radio 2 and is a presenter for the Premier League, but first made a name for himself while DJing on pirate radio stations in the 1990s.

DJ Spoony
DJ Spoony (Steven Paston/PA)

During the pandemic DJ Spoony hosted regular live streams, eventually several times a week, using his equipment at home to play a variety of music to help people “connect” and raise money for charity.

DJ Spoony told the PA news agency: “I didn’t think for the life of me that those streams would have the impact that they did. No way could I have imagined it.

“And even up until now, I don’t think a week has passed since lockdown where I’ve not had a kind message from someone, or someone hasn’t stopped me in the street and said they came across me during lockdown.

“I’ve got emotional on air a couple of times because of some of the messages people have sent, saying it was a very tricky time for a lot of us, and the community really came together.

“And I think if I look at the nation as a whole, if everybody does their bit, for their community, whilst respecting other communities as well, we actually end up with a beautiful nation.

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“And I know that’s quite romantic, but I see this award as much as for our community as for me.

“And that’s largely why I’m accepting it, because I’m a little bit conflicted with the whole thing. But I’m going to take this on behalf of everybody that stuck together and made those afternoons and evenings streaming so pleasant.”

Over the course of 10 weeks in 2020, more than one million people tuned in to watch DJ Spoony’s House stream on Instagram and Twitch every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

With hours of garage, club classics, disco, soul and R&B and a special stream to celebrate his 50th birthday, DJ Spoony helped raise more than £20,000 for the NHS and various charities.

His birthday celebration stream, 50 Years of BBE, also shone a light on “people who have displayed black British excellence” during DJ Spoony’s lifetime.

DJ Spoony hosted the live event with contributions from celebrities and influential figures including Idris Elba, Ian Wright, Baroness Lawrence and Tinie Tempah.

Early in his career DJ Spoony formed trio the Dreem Teem with fellow DJs Mikee B and Timmi Magic.

DJ Spoony
DJ Spoony is a member of the Dreem Teem with fellow DJs Mikee B and Timmi Magic (Yui Mok/PA)

With Dreem Teem DJ Spoony joined radio station Kiss 100 in 1997 and later the trio went on to join BBC Radio 1, where they held the Sunday brunch-time slot until 2003.

DJ Spoony told PA: “When I found out, it was an emotional moment because my mum is no longer here.

“And I know how delighted she would be, and I wasn’t able to call her and tell her.

“The sacrifices my mum made, the support, the belief.

“Even though, like I said, personally I’m a bit conflicted with the honours and the use of the word Empire in the honours – and I most probably would feel a lot more comfortable if that wasn’t in there – what I also accept is the journey that my people, especially my mum, went on, and sacrifices that my mum made so that I can be in this position.”

He added: “I learned to dance standing on her feet and she gave me rhythm.

“And maybe even more importantly, her allowing me to just go and express myself when I wanted to, you know, practising and playing music in the house.

“She just supported me every step of the way, so when I’ve looked for any kind of validation it’s only ever been from my mum.

“So that’s why, when I speak about it, I do get emotional, because she should be here to share that with me.”