Radio star Johnjay Van Es puts his fame towards good
Radio star Johnjay Van Es puts his fame towards good.
By Nadine Bubeck
Every morning Johnjay Van Es gets in his car at 4:03 a.m. The A-list Valley radio personality looks forward to his peaceful drive to work before the sun comes up; it gives him time to pray to whoever’s listening, thanking his lucky stars for his wife, children, job, and many blessings.
Van Es has made quite a name for himself as Arizona’s favorite radio host, alongside his main-man Rich. The Johnjay and Rich morning show is syndicated, broadcasting in top-tier markets around the country—fans consider them family; their listeners are incredibly loyal. At one point, Van Es was asked to relocate to the Big Apple, but there’s no way our Zoni would ever leave his happy home in Arcadia.
You’ve likely heard the radio host dish about anything and everything: his weekly marriage counseling sessions, his struggle with infertility, and his man crush on Tom Cruise, but you might not know the inside scoop about his true passion: #LoveUp.
A simple hashtag accompanied by two words have changed Van Es’ life, along with the lives of many less fortunate children. He actually stumbled upon this “campaign” via text with football legend Kurt Warner.
Warner coaches Van Es’ son’s football team, and one day Kurt was unable to make it to a game. In his absence, Van Es kept Warner updated through text, giving him play-by-play details about the game.
At one point, the kids made a killer pass, catch, and touchdown, and Van Es texted Warner about the amazing play. In response, Warner texted “Love up;” thanks to auto text, the cell phone altered his intentional message of “Love it.”
The auto text incident was clearly a blessing in disguise because Van Es literally fell in love with “Love up.” There was just something about the wording that filled his heart; Van Es describes the phrase as being thankful for whatever you believe lies up above—any form of God, faith, or lucky stars.
He talked about his new favorite phrase on-air the following morning, and his listeners were all over it, turning to social media posting his beloved hashtag.
A few weeks later, a guy named David showed up at the studio with a #LoveUp shirt, and things unfolded from there. Van Es posted a photo of his new #LoveUp gear and the requests started pouring in; within a few weeks, they raised $100,000 from the new apparel. And now, a year later, they’ve raised nearly half a million bucks selling a variety of #LoveUp tanks and T-shirts.
The money, of course, does not go into Van Es’ pocket; instead, the proceeds benefit The Johnjay and Rich Care for Kids Foundation, which improves the quality of life for children in need by offering assistance, comfort, and hope. Their emphasis is on helping the nearly 400,000 kids living in the foster care system across the United States.
Van Es’ foundation hits close to home; after struggling with infertility and loss, he and his wife turned to adoption, desperately wanting to become parents. They adopted their oldest son the day he was born, a day that changed Van Es’ life forever. It was then that he realized there is no greater blessing than becoming a father.
More things you might not know.
The day Van Es’ and his wife adopted their eldest; his sister-in-law was approved to be their surrogate. Soon after, he was a father of two boys, but his family was still incomplete.
Eventually doctors gave his wife the green light to carry a child, and it just so happens she ultimately birthed his second born’s twin. Yes, you read that correct. The wonderful world of medicine is truly fantastic.
Fast forward to now…Van Es spends his weekends waking up and walking to The Henry for breakfast, followed by a plethora of football practice, baseball games, and Boy Scout camping trips. Nights consist of family time watching movies, and once in a while, he’ll treat his wife to date night.
Speaking of his wife, when asked how Van Es balances it all, his response was simple and immediate: “My wife, Blake.” He says she’s a phenomenal mother, an amazing partner, and supportive best friend.
Of course this feature wouldn’t be complete without a few tidbits about the man who enters our hearts via airwaves.
His favorite interview was hands down Oprah; in fact, he interviewed her twice.
His dream interview is Tom Cruise. Why? Because Van Es’ a major fan of Risky Business.
His escape: San Diego. That’s where he went to college and met his wife.
Childhood dream: to be on the radio. (Checked that one off his list!)
Proudest moment: when he witnesses his children care for others.
First job: pool lifeguard at 16 years old.
Favorite candy: Milk Duds.
Inspiration: his parents.
And he also gets regular massages.
If you haven’t woken up with Johnjay and Rich, you might want to set your alarm and give them a whirl. They’re candid, cool, and conversational. When asked what people might not know about him, Van Es responds with ease: that he’s an open book and there’s not much he holds back.
The super suave totally personable radio host puts his fame towards good. He volunteers. He speaks at events. He sincerely cares about helping children. And he has celebrity backing; Bieber, U2, and an array of A-listers sport #LoveUp. There are plenty of designs and color combos to choose from.
Van Es wakes up expressing gratitude for life and goes to bed kissing his wife goodnight. The father of three boys genuinely appreciates life’s challenges and blessings—his road has led him to his Arcadia-based happy place, a home sweet home in Arizona.
For more information, visit johnjayandrich.com. And if you sport his apparel, be sure to tag #LoveUp.
Styling by Shannon Campbell, shannoncampbellstylist.com
Grooming by Pearl Espinoza, pearlsbeauty.net
Model: Brianna Luccia, theagencyaz.com
Assistant: Gabbie Lee
Clothing: The Clothier
Shot on location at V’s Barbershop, vbarbershop.com
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