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

Forum Continues Dialogue About the Complexities of Poverty

11 hours ago
Zhiyan Zhong, WAER news

  A number of Syracuse residents and neighborhood groups Tuesday shared their visions of poverty and what to do about it.  There was plenty of concern about lack of income and the violence that it brings. 

Syracuse’s areas of concentrated poverty are well documented and acknowledged.  What’s also pretty well known is there’s no magic bullet to pull those residents, especially children, out of poverty.  Mary Nelson, president and CEO of Mary Nelson Youth Center Program, says poverty is complex and not just a stereotype.

John Smith / WAER News

High school students at five Syracuse City Schools declared today what colleges they’ll be headed off to in the fall.  At Nottingham High School, students approached a table and signed a sheet of paper indicating their choice.  Counselor Tracey Daige says the school tries to ensure that every student has an opportunity prior to graduation to get enrolled into at least one college course.

John Smith/WAER News

  Supporters of one Democratic Presidential candidate brought a Senator of Minnesota and Mayor Stephanie Miner together on an issue important to Syracuse.  They support Hillary Clinton’s infrastructure plan…and gathered at Plum Street Bridge near Franklin Square, built in 1908.

“And it was renovated, it needs to be fully renovated and right now they’re re-decking it.  It gets approximately 300 cars a day.”

Substance abuse is a growing problem in Onondaga County, and Crouse Hospital has the only dedicated treatment center. Crouse Spokesperson Bob Allen told County Lawmakers extra funding is needed to expand the facility. 

“The facility that we describe as 410, where the bulk of our programs are housed, we cannot physically take any more patients in that building.”

epa.gov

  Researchers at Syracuse University are halfway to their goal of testing 300 local kids to examine their LEAD levels. Most of us think lead testing in kids might have to do with old paints in homes which contain lead, however, Professor of Public Health, Dr. Brooks Gump explains why this test is much different.

Syracuse researchers are looking specifically at food sources with traces of lead.

John Smith / WAER News

A class of 25 new Syracuse Police Officers was sworn in today.  Chief Frank Fowler got things started:

"Recruit class...are you ready?"  

"Yes, Sir!”   

  But Monday's ceremony was only the beginning for the cadets.  The Officers must endure 26 weeks of additional training. 

John Smith, WAER News

Following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s stop in Solvay this week to tout the benefits of raising the minimum wage, Republican State Senator John DeFrancisco and business owners and other groups including Unshackle Upstate are attempting to stifle any enthusiasm for the plan.  They say the plan could really amount to placing them at a disadvantage; which actually would be the reverse of Cuomo and his supporters’ optimism.  If the wage increase is implemented, they say it would ultimately raise their costs so much, some of their lower wage employees could see their hours reduced or risk losing their jobs altogether.  DeFrancisco has been the subject of attack ads on TV by SEIU Local 32BJ casting him with holding a net worth of $6 million dollars.  We caught up with DeFrancisco just as he was being informed about another group swinging punches at him for his opposition of the Cuomo plan.

All Onondaga County Kids Under 5 Now Eligible for Free Book Program

Mar 2, 2016
Matt Gutierrez / WAER

  Wearing their red and white-striped Dr. Seuss hats, one dozen children sat in a circle and listened to a reading of Dr. Seuss’ “Are You My Mother?” today.  They sat on the front steps of a replica City Hall inside WCNY’s Education Center in observance of “Read Across America Day.”

"I must get something for my baby bird to eat, she said. I'll be back," County Executive Joanie Mahoney read to the group of children.  

Zac Wasielewski Flickr Page

A spokesperson from the New York Farm Bureau says members are concerned the Governor’s free tolls for the farming industry would only provide them with limited use. Right now the proposal covers smaller trucks. Although, the Farm Bureau’s Steve Ammerman feels the starting concept is making positive strides for the State’s farming industry.

John Smith

  Women decked out in red filled a special events room in The Nottingham in Jamesville Friday. The common theme wasn’t a coincidence; they were celebrating National Red Day. For these women, and for many others around the country, red is a statement, a reminder of the importance of keeping their hearts strong and healthy.

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