John Smith

Host, Reporter, Producer

Thanks for visiting my page.  My career has been quite the journey and it's a long road before I arrived to WAER.  As a kid, I was always intrigued by microphones, singers  and music.  My parents bought me a tape recorder at 5 1/2 (if you can still relate) and I began telling stories and singing like I was Bobby Vinton.  I'm Polish, so I like Polkas too!  Anyhow, I'd play myself back and keep practicing.  I grew up with a severely handicapped brother, Shawn.  He caught Spinal Meningitis at three and a half weeks old and it left him with severe brain damage and he was permanently bedridden.  So, I had some downtime while my parents took care of him.  When I reached 11 years-old I also took up ventriloquism and entertained my bro.  It was all of the conversations I couldn't have with him.  Shawn couldn't speak, he could only make sounds and had a beautiful smile.  Eventually, I took my act to kids shows on WSTM Channel 3; The Saturday Showboat and the STM Club and continued performing on TV for most of my teenage years.  I also performed in the Dairy Products Building at the State Fair.  It was also during my early teens that I kept practicing making radio demo tapes in my room, complete with turntables and a mixer!  Finally, I won a Junior DJ contest to appear as a Co-Host on a local Morning Radio Show at 15 1/2 with Big Mike Fiss (now on Sunny 102) and I've been on-the-air ever since.  Radio became my new focus after I won the contest.  That is until less than a week later after I appeared on-the-air, WSYT-TV, Fox 68 in Syracuse called and offered me a job to voice promos for their fall kids contest.  I've been doing voice-overs ever since.  I continued to play the hits on two Top 40 stations, served as a Morning Show Host on a Rock Station, and an Afternoon Drive Personality on an Adult Contemporary Radio Station for which I also served as a Music Director.  I've had the opportunity to meet many celebrities and even introduced concert acts in front of thousands of people at the State Fair, Turning Stone Casino and Oswego's Harborfest.  What an adrenaline rush !  All that practicing really paid off !

Serving our WAER listeners as the Local Morning Edition Host and News Anchor has been an honor.  Especially, knowing Dick Clark was a member of this very station.  He was and still is a huge inspiration to me.  I enjoy covering the news of the community and also working with and training Broadcast Journalism Students from Syracuse University's Newhouse School.  It's been a very rewarding experience and has helped me to put into perspective of where I've come from and how much more I'd like to accomplish in life.  My reporting has earned me several Syracuse Press Club Awards that I'm grateful for.  Most recently, I won a First Place award for Best Radio Feature story for "Dick Clark got his start in Syracuse" on May 4, 2013.  Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that former WTVH-TV 5 Anchor Ron Curtis is also someone I've always admired.  A big shout out to my Mom and Dad for their love and support always; you are both truly amazing!  I'd also like to say thank you for all of great teachers and administrators in the Cicero-North Syracuse School District that have been supportive of me over the years where I also served as a Public Address Announcer !  Positive people make a difference in life and can inspire; I hope you hear that coming out your speakers when you listen to WAER ! 

Ways to Connect

Scott Willis / WAER News

Many are wondering just how many registered Democrats will actually go to the polls today to select the party's nominee for Governor, State Attorney General and for races closer to Central New York.  Thanks to recent intiatives, the turnout numbers could be higher than in the past.  Volunteers of two organizations have been giving millennials a nudge by sending out 200,000 texts asking if they can count on them to vote.  Common Cause of New York Executive Director Susan Lerner says although there’s a strong surge of interest and activism, people must actually vote.  She says the importance

Blackstone LaunchPad/ Syracuse University

Syracuse University is about to host a hackathon focused on helping people and communities leading up to, during and after natural disasters.  During the two day event which starts Friday, Hurrican Florence is expected to hit the Carolinas and Virginia. 


John Smith/WAER News

Students are Back to School this week in the Syracuse area.  For some, part of summer vacation was spent learning through activities that introduced them to new areas of study and career fields.  The Syracuse City School District has significantly expanded their career-focused education in P-TECH and C-TECH programs to engage students and held summer internships.  Meanwhile, a new charter school, OnTECH High School opened this week and is not career specific and allows students to determine their own interests.  WAER’s John Smith takes us on a journey through the programs and talks with edu

John Smith/WAER News

Democratic Congressional Candidate Dana Balter continues to make health care an issue in her race against Republican Congressman John Katko.


John Smith/WAER News

Beyond the glitzy lights of the State Fair’s Midway, there is an exhibit about bright beacons that guide boaters and commercial ships across the State.  The exhibit is called “A Path Through Maritime History: Lighthouses and Life Saving.”  New York Sea Grant Recreation Specialist Dave White says even the Statue of Liberty is a lighthouse.

“They’re a critical component of our maritime history and how we’ve grown as a country and being able to provide that opportunity to get folks safely in and out of our harbors.”

John Smith/WAER News

Teachers at Holy Family Church in Fairmount are gearing up for another school year and getting some valuable training on how to best react to protect their students and themselves in the event of a serious threat.


Cameron Tirado/WAER News

The Syracuse Peace Council organized marchers to take to the streets of Downtown Syracuse on Monday in a local procession honoring the 73 year anniversary of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August, 1945.


provided photo / M & T Bank

An M&T Bank survey of Upstate New York businesses and manufacturers seemingly reflects the increase of U.S. GDP announced last week of 4.1% during the second quarter of 2018.  Ahead of that news, the M&T survey was conducted in May and found that 57% of Upstate businesses anticipated the economy would continue to improve.  However, Manager of Small Business Banking, Lee DeAmicis of Syracuse said that these businesses wanted to be certain of the fate of the economy.

Natalie Maier/WAER News

Lead poisoning from old paint in homes continues to be a serious health threat for many residents in the city of Syracuse, especially children.  A ‘Get the Lead Out Block Party’ was held over the weekend on Salina Street to raise awareness.


John Smith/WAER News

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University is hosting nearly 30 veterans this week to learn some valuable tips on how to start-up or expand their businesses.  For nine days, the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans or EBV introduces participants on all aspects of securing financing to the operations side of running a business smoothly.  Director Misty Stutsman says veterans often lack the social circles to launch a start-up.

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