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

WAER file photo

A big change to the state’s FOIL (Freedom of Information) laws happened with the passage of the state budget last month as it pertains to who can request arrest files.  The amendment was partially intended to shield people from being exploited.

Provided photo

Central New York’s professional symphony orchestra, Symphoria, has hired a new executive director.  Dr. Pam Murchison previously served as both a musician and administrator for the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. She says that experience both on stage and behind the scenes gives her a unique perspective.

John Smith / WAER News

Labor leaders, worker advocates, and others came together in Liverpool Friday for Workers’ Memorial Day to recall the at least 30 people who died on the job in the past year across Central New York.  They say there’s not enough inspectors to make sure OSHA  laws are enforced in more workplaces.  The Medical Director of the Occupational Health Clinical Center in Syracuse says the laws also need to be updated to reflect the modernized working conditions.  Dr. Michael Lax sees workers suffering with job related problems on a daily basis.

Malika Kalila / WAER News

A new Executive Director of the Syracuse Hancock International Airport was approved today and will be making the move from Orlando, Florida.  Jason Terreri was selected from a field of 9 candidates. 

John Smith / WAER News

Syracuse received a major support of investment today in its efforts to expand and create high tech jobs that would hopefully allow the talents of vulnerable populations to self-sustaining careers.  JP Morgan Chase awarded $3 million in the ‘Advancing Cities Challenge’ that also includes several strategies to foster inclusive growth. 

More Kidney Donors Needed at Upstate University Hospital

Apr 17, 2019

Around 300 people are on the wait list for a kidney at Syracuse’s Upstate University Hospital.  The problem?  Too few people are offering to donate.  One of those on the wait list actually works at the hospital. 

John Smith / WAER News

Experts say the focus on advancing drone technologies in Central New York with millions of dollars committed by the state could transform the industry.  As local and Upstate companies are fine tuning the technologies, others are already claiming success by delivering more specialized services to customers. 

Newhouse School website.

A National Security Expert at Syracuse University has more than a few reservations about an abrupt change at the top of the federal Department of Homeland Security.  Bill Smullen is Director of National Security Studies in SU’s Maxwell School. 

John Smith / WAER News

Onondaga County Lawmakers are sharing their opinions before a key economic development vote next week by the Manlius Town Board that could threaten the preservation of a historic mansion.  County Executive Ryan McMahon says a developer wants a zone change to turn the Wellington House into a retail development, but he doesn’t support that.


S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications Dean Lorraine Branham is being remembered for her accomplishments improving the college, as well as her role as a journalism pioneer.