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 cheap 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, 20013.  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

A large U.S. flag served as the backdrop behind Family Court Judges from Central New York at the OnCenter this morning who were about to officially finalize the adoption process for families.  A local politician candidly shared his emotional account about the day he and his wife decided to adopt two children to expand their family…  Congressman John Katko.


John Smith/ WAER News

Volunteers at the Syracuse VA Medical Center say if it wasn’t for the service they provide through the Disabled American Veterans, many would never make it to Syracuse for medical care.  For the trained Volunteer Drivers are dedicated such as Dana Squire, the chance to serve transport them is an honor.

John Smith, WAER News

Hundreds of Central New Yorkers made their way to the On-Center today to look for one of 5,000 new jobs.  200 booths representing businesses, manufacturing, government, healthcare, and service organizations were set up.  Job Seekers such as Kevin Hallock put on their best attire, brought their resumes and then prepared to work the room.

John Smith, WAER News

The renovations of the former Hotel Syracuse are ongoing inside and out and the sunshine beamed inside of two completed rooms that were unveiled today.  The Hotel will become a Marriot.  The Owner's Manager Member, Ed Riley is largely credited with saving the hotel.  He says the wooden doors leading to the rooms date back to 1924 and are being refurbished locally by Stickley.

John Smith / WAER News

At 3 a.m. on Easter Sunday in 2000, Waliek Hamer was shot down at Grandma’s Burgers on South Salina Street. For 15 years, his killer went uncharged. On Thursday, Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick announced that they finally have the ballistic evidence to place the murder weapon in the suspect’s hand.

John Smith/WAER News

It might not be the time of year we associate with gardening but, Dr. King Elementary School in the Syracuse City School District is starting theirs soon.  The Urban Garden Project is designed to bring better nutrition to students and let them know what crops they can grow by Thanksgiving. Organizer Mike Atkins explains that living conditions for city residents are tough.

John Smith, WAER News

A new AARP survey of about 800 residents in Onondaga County shows there is a growing concern if they’ll have enough money on hand to live comfortably when they retire.  The sampling of local working residents who are registered voters shows that 16 percent of Gen Xers, and 23 percent of Boomers don’t have access to retirement savings.  Even worse, AARP State Director Beth Finkel says about 3.5 million New Yorkers employed by private industry don’t have a defined benefits package or a 401K.  

John Smith / WAER News

Better parking, flights to more cities, and a facelift for the front of Hancock International Airport highlight the transportation hub's future goals.  The Syracuse Regional Airport Authority issued its annual report Friday.  

  Executive Director Christina Callahan looked back on improved concessions, featuring local beers and food products, and improving the parking garage.  Travelers will also be able to sign up for TSA pre-check starting in October.  Now Callahan is ready to make a few other visible upgrades.

John Smith / WAER News

  Piled-on ice cream scoops, some secret ingredients or two, and then… mix it up with milk.  The New York State Fair marked the 37th annual Dairy Day Monday.  Members of the media competed this morning with their one-of-a-kind milkshakes. Rising Country Music Singer Lindsay James was teamed up with local DJ Skip Clark.

"All around, I actually would drink our shake.  Skip, don't you think you would drink the shake?"

"The shake was awesome," Clark said.

"It tasted great," James concurred.

John Smith, WAER News

Dozens teachers and their supporters wore black t-shirts on the first day of the State Fair on Thursday with a pretty direct message for the Governor… “Call Out Cuomo.” The only problem was, he wasn’t there to see it firsthand. However, he did send Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul who acknowledged the teachers when asked by the media.