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

Governor Cuomo's Flickr page.

Another front-line site to offer the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine opened Wednesday at the State Fairgrounds.  Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was present on day one at the Exposition Center.  She says residents will remember it as the day when the tide turned against a deadly pandemic and Central New Yorkers fought back… one shot at a time.

Newhouse School website

The Director of the Tully Center for Free Speech at SU’s Newhouse School says the suspension of President Trump’s social media accounts shows he is being treated just like any other person on social media.  Roy Gutterman says those actions fall under their terms of service.

“Well, we’re not in a court of law at this point and right now we’re just enforcing the terms of the use of service on the platforms.  The President, just like anybody else is subject to the terms that these private platforms put forward.”

Syracuse City Schools website

Students and parents of Syracuse City Schools may have wished for a return to in-person learning in 2021 after the holiday break, but spiking COVID-19 cases during the break is keeping learning remote.  The Superintendent says 140 positive cases were confirmed during the break, plus 200 staff and students were in quarantine. 

In this edition of City Limits: Winds of Change, we begin with how Georgia State University has dramatically narrowed the achievement gap by increasing the graduation rate by 74-percent within 15 years.  Author Andrew Gumbel discusses how the college dramatically turned things around for Black, low-income students.  We’ll then have a look into Syracuse area programs that guide students through school and lead them on a pathway to college or job readiness skills.

John Smith / WAER News

A local law office wants to assist Central New York restaurants and other qualifying small businesses to prepare for the next round of Paycheck Protection Program funding.  The first roll-out of the program had its flaws and the Marrone Law Firm is holding a webinar this Friday to discuss new eligibility rules to consider when applying. 

Clarity Clinical Research

Central New Yorkers who are setting new goals to improve their health in 2021 might want to take a free clinical test to see if their liver is healthy.  Clarity Clinical Research is offering 500 adult residents to get a free ultrasound known as Fribroscan to potentially undercover any issues.  Director Lisa Sonneborn says studies show that up to 25 percent of Americans may not even know they are in the beginning stages of fatty liver disease.

John Smith / WAER News

A local program designed to assist those released from long-term incarceration to reintegrate into our community has received a $50,000 grant from AT&T.  The Center for Community Alternatives plans to purchase necessary technology as part of a new digital literacy skills program and to provide some income.  CCA Deputy Director Kelly Gonzalez says the program aims to help those facing social inequities and higher rates of underemployment.

Robert McClean / Syracuse VA Medical Center

The first round of COVID-19 vaccines are reaching some nursing homes today in Onondaga County.  It’s been a long time coming as local the death toll from the virus has particularly impacted the elderly population.  

City of Syracuse /

The Finance Committee Chair of the Syracuse Common Council plans to hold discussions soon after it’s been made clear local governments won’t be getting any of the $900 billion in federal COVID aid.  Michael Greene says both sales tax revenue and state aid are way down and that ultimately impacts the city’s budget. 

John Smith / WAER News

Food Bank of CNY is experiencing another surge of individuals and families who need assistance through its emergency Food Network.  That means longer hours and also because staff and volunteers have to socially distance.  We stopped by last week for a warehouse tour.  Lyn Hy provided me a tour of the warehouse.  Upon entering she points out a small group of volunteers packing food.  In normal times… it’s typically between 12 to 15 people.