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

Chris Bolt / WAER News

 Onondaga County’s Election Commissioners say they were thrilled to be caught off guard yesterday when droves of people turned up for a third day of early voting. Republican Election Commissioner Michelle Sardo jokes how this year’s turnout is already unlike any other.

A non-partisan pro-taxpayer organization has issued a report card just before Election Day that ranks New York as the second worst business tax climate in the nation.  Unshackle Upstate is calling on voters to really assess candidates’ plans to address high spending and improving the economy during the pandemic. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

The City of Syracuse continues to attempt to meet police reform demands laid out by the public in the wake of this summer’s - national and local - social justice demonstrations. A new digital portal announced by the city last week allows citizens to compare the 16 components of Mayor Ben Walsh’s Police Reform Order with the nine demands from a coalition of local organizations.

John Smith / WAER News

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand feels President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is against the Affordable Care Act and worries that pre-existing conditions for insurance plans are on the line.  However, Judge Amy Coney Barrett maintains she had no agenda to repeal the ACA.  Gillibrand says that Senator Lindsay Graham is “hell-bent” on pushing through the nomination process in time for a November 11th ACA lawsuit to be heard by the court.  That would happen after Election Day.

John Smith / WAER News

A recent increase of COVID-19 cases among SU students is changing how the university responds. The cluster emerged after some students visited another college and then attended an off campus party. Vice Chancellor Mike Haynie says the university led an education campaign early on.

John Smith/WAER News

  Many major New York  cities, from Syracuse and Albany, to Hamilton and Ithaca are calling for more federal aid to get through the pandemic.  A dozen members of the New York Conference of Mayors gathered today at Syracuse City Hall to demand Washington stops bickering on aid for cities.

Syracuse School District Opens Schools, Begins First Day of Hybrid Learning

Oct 5, 2020
Brianna Langlois

Two weeks after school started virtually, the Syracuse City School District welcomed students back today for the first day of hybrid learning. Students whose families elected for a hybrid model of instruction are split into learning pods two days a week.

  Local political science experts are sharing concerns about the Presidential campaign and the responsibility of running the country following President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump testing positive for the Coronavirus.  Cornell Professor Doug Kriner says it’s still not clear if the diagnosis will sway voters, but there is a key voting demographic to watch.

Gage Skidmore

Political experts from Syracuse University and SUNY Cortland  weighed in on waht they saw as a 'disaster' and chaotic in teh first presidential debate, while finding some meaning in some of the answers and non-answers to questions.

  The contest between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden left two thoughts in the mind of Syracuse University Political Science Professor Grant Reeher: 

John Smith/WAER News

 A local company is ensuring workers at the Syracuse Department of Public Works has more in its arsenal to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19 ahead of the winter weather. Healthway Products of Pulaski delivered three air purification units to DPW headquarters to reduce the air particle count in tight spaces with a goal of lowering the virus count in the air.