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

CNY Homecare Adapts to Shifting Demographics

Jul 16, 2018
Courtesy of Nascentia Health


A home healthcare agency that serves Central New York continues to expand its staff to meet the growing demand for an aging population.  In 2010, a Cornell University demographics chart indicated there were nearly 36,000 residents age 50 to 54 in Onondaga County. 

Now, it appears this is driving the need for healthcare agencies.  Nascentia Health continues to grow with the industry.  Vice President of Public Relations Kimberly Graf says that it’s vital to accommodate the needs of aging local residents.

Syracuse Police are investigating what’s behind a rise in “spike” overdoses this week.  Synthetic marijuana overdose cases across the city have increased from one or two per day, to upwards of 20, with more likely going unreported.  

Sergeant Rick Helterline says this may be due to what he calls a “bad batch.”

Cameron Tirado/WAER News

One local health organization has changed its branding to better reflect its accomplishments in the lives of 7,000 Upstate New Yorkers recover from drug addiction and mental health issues in the last year.  Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare is now Helio Health and the new name is to better reflect the variety of services beyond behavioral health, and its services available outside the City of Syracuse.  President Jeremy Klemanski says this change is to show patients a new sense of warmth where they can find light from the darkness.

file photos


Democrats selected Dana Balter to chellenge John Katko for his congressional seat in Tuesday's primary election.  She beat Juanita Perez Williams in a race where the two shared similar views on many issues.  

Concern over national issues boosted voter turnout with more than 23,000 people paticipating, nearly twice the number from  the 2016 primary.


The Loop the Lake Trail is closer to expanding further east of the St. Joseph’s Lakeview Amphitheater this summer with a continuation of a solar light pathway.

The Onondaga County Ways and Means committee voted five to one in favor of accepting a one million dollar state grant to purchase 150 additional solar lights. They would be installed as construction of the West side-trail-extension begins. County Environment Manager Travis Glazier says the extension from the existing trail will likely begin sometime this year.

John Smith / WAER News

An administrative Law Professor at Syracuse University feels the future of how to handle the crisis of breaking-up immigrant families entering the US remains uncertain.  David Dreisen said President Trump’s Executive Order to reverse his policy does not state if previous families will be unified or if there is a plan to accomplish that. 

He said the real truth is that immigrants come to America because they are fleeing persecution and poverty. They’re seeking refuge.

Plans are now in place to try and prevent harmful algal blooms in Skaneateles, Owasco, Cayuga, and nine other lakes across New York. 

They were named as priority water bodies as part of the Cuomo administration’s $65 million plan to identify contributing factors and find solutions to the blooms.  Scott Kishbaugh is with the state DEC’s division of water.

John Smith/WAER News

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul came to Nottingham High School Monday to greet supporting students, teachers and administrators who want to prevent school shootings. 

The last-minute pitch is happening just before the end of the legislative session.  Hochul says the Red Flag legislation would act as another safety measure.

Cameron Tirado / WAER News

A dilapidated home with cracking paint and weeds growing through the front steps on Syracuse’s South Side is going to serve as the focal point of a Safe and Healthy home tour.  The house is situated behind another home after a long walk-up a cracked driveway.   

Director of Code Enforcement Ken Towsley says inspectors will lead the public tours and point out what hazards needs to be addressed.

John Smith/WAER News

The Upstate Trauma Center in Syracuse introduced employees to its new virtual driving simulator today ahead of the busy summer driving season.  The simulator is unique because drivers get to sit in an actual car and allows people to move the steering wheel.  The front tires of the car rest on elevated platforms with high tech sensors capturing the movement.  Trauma Outreach Coordinator Jerry Morrison prepares drivers before they take a virtual spin.