You may recognize the name “Jon Smith” from the radio station 103.5 The Arrow’s morning show, but you might not know he’s also a volunteer firefighter and the public information officer at the North Tooele Fire District. On top of all that, Smith owns his own DJ company and still manages to spend time with his family.
Smith, a Stansbury Park resident, has been working at the North Tooele Fire District for over five years. For the past four and a half years, he’s held the position of public information officer where he provides information and answers questions about local fires and large-scale events to the Transcript Bulletin, as well as other Utah-based news sources. He also helps to boost morale at the department and entertains his fellow firefighters.
Smith decided to give volunteer firefighting a go after speaking with a friend who works in law enforcement in the Salt Lake Valley.
“I was in a place in my life where I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to help my community,” Smith said. “My job as a radio host allowed me to do a lot of really unique things, but I felt like I wasn’t giving enough back to my neighborhood and the state for giving me a career and a place to call home. I was looking for ways I could help out my community. I was talking to one of my friends and giving him advice for his new public information job and I thought maybe this was something I could do and learn to fight fires at the same time.”
After giving it some thought, Smith signed up to volunteer at the North Tooele Fire District.
“I fell in love with firefighting,” he said. “It’s one of the greatest professions you could ever be a part of. It’s such a great way to spend your time.”
Smith works at the district anywhere from 2-40 hours a week depending on the department’s need.
Smith enjoys his job because he is able to help people who need it most.
“You get to be the helper,” he said. “When disaster strikes and bad things happen, Mr. Rogers said to look for the helpers. I like being the helper and the guy who isn’t panicking, but helping others. When someone is having the worst day of their life, they need someone there. I feel like myself and my fellow firefighters have been given the gift to be there to be that person to help when people need it most.”
Although Smith enjoys his firefighting job, there are often challenges that present themselves that the community doesn’t always see.
“When you take on this role, you have to see and do things that you can’t get rid of,” he said. “You see people that are hurt and people who’ve died. You question whether or not you’re the right person for the job sometimes … Going home after a tragic incident – it’s hard to switch that off. Taking care of your mental health can be very difficult.”
Despite the challenges, Smith wouldn’t trade his firefighting job for anything easier.
From 6-11 a.m. Smith is on air on 103.5 during his daily morning show.
Smith pursued a career in radio in 1998 working for 107.5. During the beginning of his time at the station, he worked weekend nights and helped out with events sponsored by the station.
“I was doing everything I could to get my foot in the door,” he said.
From 107.5, Smith went to work for X96. In 2005, he went to St. George to start a few radio stations. Then, he came back to Salt Lake City in 2013 and started working again for X96 as their assistant program and music director.
“I was able to have a lot of fun breaking new artists and playing new music,” Smith said, speaking about his time at X96.
Sadly, Smith was laid off in 2018, but his layoff opened the door for his current position at 103.5 shortly after, which he said is his favorite job of all.
“The opportunity to join this station as a DJ and morning show host is really a career dream that most radio personalities don’t get,” Smith said. “I am a super lucky cat to be doing what I’m doing.”
Every morning Smith and his co-host Sam Blake record their show entitled “Smith and Sam,” aimed at entertaining morning commuters throughout the state.
During his time on air, Smith plays games with listeners, gives away prizes, and talks with Blake about the difference in their ages.
“I am 45 years old and my co-host is 25 years old,” Smith said. “With the generational gap, there’s a bit of humor that goes on there. We have a lot of fun.”
There is a lot of preparation that goes into the show each morning.
“We pride ourselves in that for every hour we spend on the air, we spend an hour off the air preparing what the next day’s show is going to be like,” Smith explained. “A five-hour radio show is really a 10-hour-a-day job. We are constantly writing, brainstorming, and sharing ideas.”
Smith enjoys the relationship he has curated with his listeners.
“We want people to feel like we are in the car having fun with them,” he said. “What I do for a job is not nearly as hard as what everyone else is doing for their job. Part of my job is bringing some levity and brightness to everyone’s day while they’re getting ready for work. It’s a very personal relationship listeners have with us. You talk to a lot of people at one time, but really, I’m talking to one person individually. That’s a pretty special thing.”
Smith also enjoys his job because he is able to be himself.
“I get to be me,” he said. “People have said to me my whole life that I am unique or different. I was really uncomfortable with that for a long time growing up. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere … All the way through high school people told me I was going to have to grow up at some point. Turns out they were wrong. I found where I fit. I think that’s the best part about being a radio DJ. It’s not who I became; it’s who I already was.”
Along with his morning show, Smith travels all around the state to promote businesses and events.
“These events are some of the rare changes we get to see our listeners face-to-face,” Smith said. “We jump at the opportunity to do those.”
Smith said he is grateful for everyone who has turned on their radio and taken the time to listen to his show.
Along with his radio job, Smith owns a business DJing at events and weddings.
He has been DJing since 1995 after his ward officials asked him to DJ for a dance.
“I’ve always liked music and have always had an eye and an ear to entertain people,” he said. “Entertaining people and being a wacky guy is in my DNA.”
Because Smith spends so much of his time working, he is constantly going from place to place. He attributes his success making it on time to his wife, Sharon.
“I have ADHD and one of the quirks with ADHD is time-blindness,” he said. “Oftentimes I have no idea what time or what day it is, but my loving wife is very organized and she is kind enough to organize my phone and put reminders in. She will also text me telling me I need to be somewhere.”
Smith graduated from Taylorsville High School in 1997. He never pursued a degree in higher education because he already had his foot in the door in radio, and in the 90s, education for radio wasn’t readily available.
Besides his radio, DJ, and firefighting jobs, Smith has also been a combat journalist during the Iraq War, a magician; worked at Discovery Zone, a place much like Chuck E Cheese; and various call centers.
When he isn’t working, Smith enjoys being a husband and a dad. He enjoys watching cartoons, coloring, and playing with his only daughter.
For now, Smith is content where he is with what he is doing. He doesn’t have any plans for the future.
Smith wants to thank his fellow firefighters for their service, and his family for their support, patience, and love.