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

MusicfortheMission.org

As Central New Yorkers stream their traditional holiday favorites, they have a chance to add to their music library with a charitable song that will benefit “Music for the Mission” to buy meals for those less fortunate.  “We Are One” was originally released in 2018 with over 40 local artists and has been re-released into a new version.  Executive Producer Bob Halligan attempted to capture holiday spirit and goodwill through storytelling by remembering those who are less fortunate.  

Vladmir Raic / Pixabay

US Senator Chuck Schumer wants Central New Yorkers to be protected as one of the hottest electronic items underneath their Christmas trees arrives … Smart TVs.    


John Smith/WAER News

The holidays are upon us in Syracuse and this weekend an event aims to get shoppers and families to Downtown Syracuse.  The third annual “Holidays in the City” on Saturday is filled with activities, contests and decorations to entice people to experience what the city offers this time of year.  Downtown Committee Executive Director, Merike Treier, says there’s a list of events and exhibits families can expect throughout Saturday’s festivities. 

Toby Craner / WAER News

A program that’s encouraging youth to exercise and eat healthy in Syracuse City Schools is about to expand from five to seven schools.  The Growing Healthy Hearts program also emphasizes the need for mental preparation and treating others with kindness.  American Heart Association Local Director Franklin Fry explains how characters that students earn are visually reinforcing the lessons in school.

Onondaga Community College

An on-the-job apprenticeship training program is about to launch to fill the gaps for a lack of qualified talent in Central New York for machinists and toolmakers.  Onondaga Community College is partnering with two local companies to offer the free on the job training. 


Scott Willis / WAER News

Seven Syracuse area organizations who rescue and take care of animals are hoping you’ll support their efforts in December with a goal to raise up to $100,000 with matching gifts.  Beginning Tuesday, Dec. 2, Staffworks will match their donations up to $10,000 each and then $1,000 per every $5,000 raised thereafter. 


John Smith / WAER News

The Syracuse Police Chief and Manager of Destiny USA want to reassure shoppers the shooting incident on Black Friday in the food court area was an isolated incident.  Police were alerted shortly after 7 PM and quickly responded to the scene.  Chief Kenton Buckner says a victim was shot twice in the leg. 


John Smith / WAER News

A holiday shopping event is assembling local Central New York businesses together on Small Business Saturday in one convenient location in Downtown Syracuse.  Night Market will be held on several floors at SKY Armory.  There will be food and entertainment for guests to enjoy in between browsing, and shopping for holiday gifts.  Spokesperson CJ Butler says there’s a little something for everyone.

twitter@NeSommavilla

UPDATE:  Syracuse University Department of Public Safety Offiicals reported early Thursday that more racist graffiti was discovered in a restroom stall of the Physics building targeting Asian individuals.  There are no suspects and are investigating this latest incident.  Beyond that, university officials have not responded to requests for comment.

Toby Craner / WAER News

The first candidate to step forward to announce intentions to run for the soon-to-be-vacated 50th State Senate Seat made it official Wednesday during a gathering at Schiller Park in Syracuse.  Democrat John Mannion lost a tight race against Republican Bob Antonacci in 2018 by a margin of two percent.  Mannion says the pillars of his campaign are similar to his previous election run.

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