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

As the nation has grappled with a pandemic, the cries for racial and social justice have also grown in solidarity.  On this episode of City Limits: Winds of Change, how are places of higher education responding to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion?  How are they dealing with bias, racial issues and ethnic attacks?  

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Residents of nursing homes and adult care facilities in New York State can now designate one or two personal caregivers who can visit them thanks to legislation introduced by Senator Rachel May. The goal of the bill is to maintain residents’ well-being and to prevent isolation from loved ones both now, and in any future pandemics.

WAER File Photo

The Syracuse Airport is about to see its highest level of traffic since the COVID-19 pandemic began, as the State ends mandatory quarantine for travelers after April first.  The airport is constantly being sanitized daily - and during off hours - with hospital grade misting. 


John Smith / WAER News

Syracuse Police Detectives have a lead suspect in the murder of a 93-year-old woman at the Skyline Apartment building last week. Authorities are charging 23-year-old Victoria Afet with first degree murder in connection to the death of Connie Tuori.

City of Syracuse

There is a unique opportunity this month for Syracuse residents to take part in a fair and open process that puts redistricting in the voters hands.   It's also the first time the city has redrawn its lines in 20 years. Members of the independent redistricting commission - not elected or government officials - will determine the areas City Councilors represent. Onondaga County Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny is optimistic about the outcome.

John Smith / WAER News

A new  $7.6 million lab at SUNY Upstate Medical University aims to allow researchers to investigate infectious diseases such as Lyme Disease, COVID-19, and others like them. Officials cut the ribbon today on what’s called the Vector Biocontainment Lab.   Upstate Medical President Dr. Mantosh Dewan says SUNY experts have been at the forefront of the field.

Four thousand kid-friendly Band-Aids were dropped off at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse Thursday to lift the spirits of young patients from Syracuse Academy of Science and Citizenship Elementary. Teacher Hayley Merritt saw firsthand the effects on concerned classmates when one of her own students had an extended hospital stay.

John Smith / WAER News

A local fitness club owner is expanding offerings and repurposing its spaces amid COVID-19 realities and is very optimistic even more people will return once they’re vaccinated.  Metro Fitness is renovating the DeWitt Club into specialized boutique spaces, offering more ways to gather in smaller groups - to participate in person and virtual classes. 

John Smith / WAER News

The second round of vaccinations for COVID-19 happened at AME Zion Church for a group of Syracuse South Side residents.  The location, along with the vulnerable populations its reaching in nearby city neighborhoods, is making a difference. 

John Smith / WAER News

A $573 million settlement in the fight against the opioid epidemic was recently announced with nearly every state including New York.  A global consulting firm, McKinsey and Company, worked for large pharma and agreed to the settlement, sparing a long court proceeding.