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

Some of Central New York’s 600 American Red Cross volunteers could be heading to Tennessee to help with the recovery from tornadoes that tore through the state earlier this week.  The death toll stands at 24 after the storms destroyed neighborhoods in Nashville and points east.

Onondaga County Directly Monitoring Possible Cases of Coronavirus

Mar 4, 2020
John Smith / WAER News

Onondaga County is now among the communities  directly monitoring possible cases of coronavirus infection, announcing that 12 people are under quarantine.  Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta calls it a “rapidly evolving situation” but said the 12 are not showing any symptoms at this time. 

John Smith / WAER-FM 88.3

Central New Yorkers are in the midst of a transition to reusable shopping bags after the state law that bans single-use plastic bags went into effect Sunday. The Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC, has teamed up with Food Bank of Central New York to ensure reusable bags are accessible to everyone, regardless of income.

John Smith / WAER News

Onondaga County residents filed into a public meeting today at Salina Town Hall to learn more about the results of a feasibility study to the prospects of developing a public beach in the Willow Bay area of Onondaga Lake Park.  Renderings of a sandy and sprawling beach with people and wading in the water were shown with a large bath house, a new playground and picnic areas. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse University is closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on study abroad programs, as well as international students. Officials made the decision this week to suspend the academic program in Florence, Italy after infections were reported to the north.

John Smith/WAER News

Nearly half of the more than 18,000 calls to the Upstate Poison Control Center in 2019 were about kids six and younger who had unintentional drug poisonings from medicine.  The hospital is using grant funding to provide nearly 1,000 affected families with medication lock boxes before they leave the hospital.


Syracuse University’s Chancellor wants to start with compassion in dealing with 23 student protestors who have remained in an administrative building after hours this week following the racist and antisemitic and hate incidents that have occurred since last fall on campus. 

#NotAgainSU Movement Re-Emerges, Occupies Crouse-Hinds Hall

Feb 17, 2020
Matthew Hassan / WAER News

Update 2/18/2020 7:10 AM:

Students with the group #Not Again SU who refused to leave the University’s Administrative Office building last night to observe the hours of operation have been referred to the Office of Student rights and Responsibilities. 

Environmental Advocates of New York has just released a report that claims New York State's water infrastructure spending is coming up short. The report found that about half of the proposed shovel ready projects never see any funding from the state and a billion dollars annually is needed.

File photo. / WAER News

Onondaga County has seen a decrease in the overall homeless population of nearly 10% from 2018 to 2019.  County Executive Ryan McMahon says it doesn’t stop there.  He shared another positive improvement in getting people a more permanent solution during his State of the County address this week.