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

David Wilson / Wikimedia Commons

Diners are getting reacquainted with going out to eat in person in downtown Syracuse after state restrictions were eased.  Now "Delicious Downtown Deals" through the entire month of February might help spur more business for local eateries.


SUNY Cortland website

It might appear there's an ongoing power struggle on Capitol Hill this week but, the Chair of the Political Science Department at SUNY Cortland says the politics between two particular cases are much different. 


John Smith / WAER News

A mix of 18 local restaurants and other businesses in Syracuse and Central New York recently had new air purification systems installed through a $20,000 donation by HealthWay Family of Brands in Pulaski.  President Vinny Lobdell says there’s an easy way to check to see which businesses have the units that remove viral and bacterial particles to .007 microns.

Citizen Action New York

Citizen Action of New York is rallying behind struggling childcare providers and working parents and guardians that are dealing with the economic hardships the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.  They along with state lawmakers are asking Governor Cuomo to release the state’s share of federal funding and requesting additional funding from Washington as they all struggle to pay their bills. 


Creative Commons

The Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University will be holding a virtual discussion tonight with a distinguished panel of guests well-versed in disability culture, education, advocacy and innovation. 

John Smith / WAER News

The Syracuse Peace Council’s Nuclear-Free-World committee joined with other groups across the world today to mark day one of the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  The treaty signed by at least 122 countries in 2017 - and ratified by 51 - effectively makes it illegal to have a nuclear arsenal under International Law.  Local Member Diane Swords explains more rules as to how the treaty should effectively shut down and disarm nuclear programs.

Syracuse City Fire Department Facebook Page

Syracuse's Fire Chief is seeking a $125,000 grant to purchase new thermal imaging cameras that allow firefighters to see inside of structures, for a variety of reasons.  Recently, firefighters had to enter a vacant, dilapidated house to confirm there was no one inside. 


John Smith / WAER News

A renowned Music Educator and African American Music Historian who lives in Syracuse joined her former church in Washington, DC virtually today with a Martin Luther King Day program she created in 1981.  Dr. Joan Hillsman invited essential workers all those years ago to New Southern Rock Baptist Church for lunch and to listen to recordings of MLK and to get them thinking about how they could put ‘the Dream’ in action.

SUNY Upstate

A pilot says FAA approved drone test flights for Upstate Medical University in Syracuse this week are proving they can fly safely across the city.  Pilot Brendan Stewart who works for DroneUP says the length of flights completed here within a visual line of sight is groundbreaking because there was live street traffic below.


Cornell University website.

A Cornell University Political Science Professor is not surprised that Donald Trump was impeached a second time because early polling suggested that more people were in favor of it this time.  Doug Kriner also serves as the Faculty Director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs based at the university. 


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