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

On a recent Saturday morning about 300 people filled a cafeteria at Corcoran High School.  They stand around tables in solidarity to show their concern for black and brown students and join together in song.

John Smith/WAER News

More business partners were announced Thursday for a new program that aims to get panhandlers on a more promising path starting later this spring.   ‘Hire Ground’ is getting financial support from Onondaga County, and will give people a chance to work three days a week. 

Malika Budur Kalila / WAER News

To paint with human expression and place it on canvas as Spencer Stultz does is truly a unique ability that speaks to her intrinsic talents as an artist. 

United New York Ambulance Network

Ambulance providers from Central New York joined with others from across the state in Albany on Tuesday to rally against a proposal to eliminate millions in funding from the State budget that reimburses them for EMS services.  Lohn Fricano is the Director of Operations for TLC Emergency Medical Services in Syracuse. 

Evan Beebe / WAER News

A bright lime green building along Erie Boulevard East in Syracuse is attracting bicyclists and the general public to stop in.  The owners of Mello Velo wanted to expand and relocate from the Westcott community to Erie Boulevard, not far from the SU Hill. 

John Smith / WAER News

A growing number of refugee and immigrant owned businesses in Syracuse are making their mark on the local economy.  They’re also providing a path forward to make a better life for others and their families and the greater public with their talents.  Centerstate CEO in Syracuse partnered with the New American Economy in 2014 for a study to find out how much of an economic impact refugees and immigrant owned businesses have on the city’s economy. 

John Smith / WAER News

Leaders at Centerstate CEO say they prefer a community grid, plus recommendations to replace the I-81 viaduct. The board suggests ways to revitalize the city through strategies and metrics, address traffic flow and environmental improvement. This includes improvements to feeder sections of I-81 South into the city like the Bear Street corridor to enhance transportation infrastructure and connect with the Inner Harbor developments and surrounding area. Rob Simpson explains that plenty of creative thinking has to go into the plans for the best outcomes.

Paddy Smith /

Some help, and some advice, to people who might be having trouble paying their heating bills this winter.  Natural Gas Company Dominion Energy Tuesday donated $10,000 to help out. 

Hundreds Attend Katko's Townhall About Future of I-81

Feb 11, 2019
Cameron Tirado / WAER News

Even though the cold winter temperatures returned this weekend, the conversations were heated inside the Saint Matthew’s School in East Syracuse.  Over the weekend hundreds of people filled the chairs and lined the walls for Congressmember John Katko to hear their opinions on how to replace the I-81 viaduct in Syracuse.  Local physician Sunny Aslam was one of the many people in attendance to support the community grid.

John Smith / WAER News

Onondaga County is investing $100,000 to bridge the digital divide and lessen the impact of poverty. The tech pack program is run through the libraries and allows people to checkout a hotspot and a laptop computer for three weeks.