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

Many New Yorkers had their eyes on Iowa, as that state starts the selection process for presidential nominees. One local political scientist says there a few things to look for.

Center State CEO

The next round of five GENIUS NY teams are now in residency at the Tech Garden in Syracuse as they compete to advance their companies with more than $3 million up for grabs.  GENIUS NY is a business accelerator program at The Tech Garden that offers three grand prizes to the top three businesses in the competition.


Coronavirus at a microbial level
U.S. National Institute of Health

The Chief of Infectious Diseases at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse says it’s not the Coronavirus from China that Central New Yorkers should be most concerned about this season.  Dr. Stephen Thomas says there’s a good reason to wash your hands and suggests those who feel ill to stay away from others.

Final approvals are falling into place for an attraction at the convergence of the city’s Onondaga Creekwalk and the county’s Loop the Lake trail.  Syracuse Common Councilors Monday approved $500,000 toward the Onondaga Lake Lounge project, at the end of the creekwalk near Destiny USA. 

John Smith / WAER News

Congressmember John Kakto convened a bipartisan briefing of State and local elections officials from across the state Tuesday in Syracuse to discuss cyber security in the 2020 primaries and the Presidential Election.  Katko serves on the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Innovation Subcommittee. 

Syracuse Less fortunate Share Breakfast on Martin Luther King Day

Jan 21, 2020
John Smith/WAER News

Soem peole in Syracuse spent part of their Martin Luther King Junior holiday helping others and trying to work in the spirit of the civil rights leader.   

Volunteers helped host a a breakfast for the homeless at the YWCA on the North Side.  The event was organized by “We Rise Above the Streets” founder Al-Amin  Muhammad who was homeless himself for ten years.  He says the event is a way for MLK’s goodwill to be carried out.

Unshackle website

Bringing down costs for small businesses in the state and blocking new government mandates on employers are some the priorities for Unshackle Upstate in 2020.  The Executive Director says they’re also not in agreement with the recent minimum wage increases that he claims will cost businesses more. 

Upstate Poison Center

The Upstate Poison Control Center is providing a look at a wide-range of poisoning situations that certified specialists handled in 2019.  Some of the more concerning calls were attributed to the vaping crisis.  Michele Caliva, the Administrative Director  said their toxicologist and clinical director realized the illnesses reported were somehow related.

Tobacco Free CNY wants to bring awareness about how air quality in apartment buildings may become compromised during the cold winter months when tenants smoke indoors.  It’s estimated that up to 65% of the air in multi-unit housing is being distributed through shared ventilation and heating systems. 

Chris Bolt/WAER News

New York's minimum wage increased across the state this week to $11.80 an hour – outside of New York City - and one Ithaca business owner says she’s ok with it.   Jan Rhodes Norman owns Ithaca Made and Silk Oak clothing and has already been paying two full-time employees higher than the state’s minimum wage for years now.  They earn $15.37 an hour.