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

Courtesy of Michael Schwartz

The Director of the Disability Rights Clinic at Syracuse University’s Office of Clinical Legal Education says the American’s with Disabilities Act has helped.  However, he says we still have a long way to go.  Over the weekend marked the 30th Anniversary of the ADA.  Michael Schwartz is a Supervising Attorney and a Professor.  In terms of securing employment for those with disabilities, the unemployment rate remains at 1990 levels of 70%. 

WAER File Photo

Syracuse’s Police Chief says two homicides over the weekend and another killing form last weekend are not connected to recent protests, but rather drug and gang activity.   Together, the three killings push the city’s number of homicides for the year to 17. 

John Smith/WAER News

Central New York Pediatricians are requesting assistance from major insurers to provide them with necessary Medicare funding as they address a steep fall in office visits due to COVID-19.  Doctor Steven Blatt is the Medical Director of Upsate Pediatric and Adolescent Center. 

Lawrence Jackson, White House Photographer / Wikimedia Commons

Civil rights advocate and Congressmember John Lewis is being remembered in Central New York as a selfless crusader who’s connected to the racial justice movement of today. 

Bart Everson /

Schools out for the summer but, when and how will it return?  The State Education Department released a framework this week to provide districts with some guidance to work from.  They are weighing all virtual, face-to-face, and hybrid options.  

Syracuse Mets

Major League Baseball is gearing up for the start of the 2020 season in just a few weeks. With that, though, came the cancellation of the minor league season due to COVID-19.

Brad Klein, WAER News

Like almost any other industry, farming has taken a serious hit amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  The annual “Onondaga Grown” Campaign kicked off Wednesday with an added sense of urgency to save the local farms.  Legislature Chair Dave Knapp says some are in real danger of going out of business because of delays in processing and shipping.

John Smith / WAER News

The winner of the Democratic Primary in New York’s 24th Congressional District emerged today thanking her supporters and her former challenger, after Francis Conole conceded.  The post Election Night gathering was held at Dana Balter's campaign headquarters in Syracuse. 

John Smith / WAER News

Restaurants in Syracuse’s Westcott Community appear to be having a nice showing of patrons as they reopen following the onset of the pandemic.  WAER News was invited on a tour of the area with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Assemblymember Pam Hunter interacting with business owners and patrons. 

In person voting for the Democratic Primary in the 24th Congressional District will be held on Tuesday, June 23 in attempt to unseat Republican John Katko in November. Dana Balter is encouraged by the nearly 26,000 paper ballots sent in so far.