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

John Smith / WAER News

WAER is catching up with essential service businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic to see how they’re coping with the challenging times.  In part two, we’re looking at businesses on the SU Hill that are taking a significant hit without thousands of college students around.  Jerry Dellas is the President of the Crouse Marshall Business Improvement District.  He says business was strong about two weeks ago but, he closed last week.

“I think when the order came out that the doctors and nurses were not supposed to leave the hospital, that really, kind of put an end to it.”


The essential businesses in Central New York who have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic are doing so as a good gesture to provide services to residents.  WAER News is checking in with them to see how they're coping with everything from temporary layoffs to downsizing what they usually offer. 

Justin Sayles / Onondaga County

Onondaga County added 23 Coronavirus cases on Saturday over Friday's numbers.  County Executive Ryan McMahon acknowledged that everyone's patience has been tested by having to social distance for this extended period.  However, he advised that staying at home is the best thing to do right now while the virus is still all too active.

"We know there are more positives out there but, we're talking about 20 individuals in the hospital right now; 8 in critical condition who are most likely on some sort of ICU (Intensive Care Unit) ventilator."

John Smith / WAER News / File photo

The Cuomo Administration continues to urge people to remain at home as the total of statewide COVID-19 cases reached 37,258 Thursday, representing an increase of 6,448 cases spread out across 39 counties.  The virus has claimed the lives of 385 in the state. 

John Smith / WAER News

As Central New Yorkers are urged to stay at home to flatten the curve for COVID-19, Centro is offering a full schedule with free bus transportation for those who need it.  The Downtown Syracuse transit hub is open; however, the small interior building is closed. 

John Smith / WAER News

Vera House is now also having to cancel its upcoming walk through Downtown Syracuse over coronavirus concerns but, the White Ribbon campaign will continue through social media and discussions.   The campaign’s Co-Chair James Branch says they’ve been selling bracelets.  He offers them when someone tells him they know of a person in an abusive relationship.

John Smith / WAER News

The Crime Analysis Center in Syracuse is now expanding with the new addition of Oswego and Madison counties. It is one of ten support centers across New York. The data network staffed with analysts and investigators allows information about crimes across 31 counties to be easily shared. 

John Smith / WAER News

Some of Central New York’s 600 American Red Cross volunteers could be heading to Tennessee to help with the recovery from tornadoes that tore through the state earlier this week.  The death toll stands at 24 after the storms destroyed neighborhoods in Nashville and points east.

Onondaga County Directly Monitoring Possible Cases of Coronavirus

Mar 4, 2020
John Smith / WAER News

Onondaga County is now among the communities  directly monitoring possible cases of coronavirus infection, announcing that 12 people are under quarantine.  Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta calls it a “rapidly evolving situation” but said the 12 are not showing any symptoms at this time. 

John Smith / WAER-FM 88.3

Central New Yorkers are in the midst of a transition to reusable shopping bags after the state law that bans single-use plastic bags went into effect Sunday. The Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC, has teamed up with Food Bank of Central New York to ensure reusable bags are accessible to everyone, regardless of income.