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, 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

Chris Bolt/WAER News

The Spanish Action League of Syracuse is reorganizing its leadership to deal with Syracuse’s top ranking with the highest concentration of Hispanics living in poverty.  The League is now pursuing new partnerships with human service agencies and organizations.  Co-President Ramon Rivera says the organization has developed a new five point plan to meet their needs.

John Smith/WAER News

American Gold Star Mothers here in Central New York were recognized on Thursday at the Onondaga County War Memorial with a new exhibit in their honor.  The Mothers offer support to one another as they carry on the memory of their sons or daughters who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  A ceremony was held before the grand unveiling of the life-like display of a Mother dressed in a white uniform.  State President Carrie Farley describes how she lost her son Derek in August of 2010.

John Smith/WAER News

The Greater Syracuse Community and organizers want to uplift neighborhoods with colorful painted scenes on boards placed on decaying properties.  Their teamwork aims to improve neighborhood surroundings and to let residents know that others care.

A group gathers on a Saturday in the parking lot of a now defunct church on Syracuse’s South Side.  The Syracuse Land Bank owns the property at the corner of South Salina and Colvin Streets.  People are given large panels of primed boards set-up on horses to create some artistic flair.

John Smith/WAER News

Syracuse University Student musicians and singers will be warming up concertgoers before they attend the Paul McCartney concert with performances of their own on Saturday.

Songs from the Beatles and Sir Paul will be filling the air on the Syracuse University quad during "McCartney Madness" Saturday from 1:30 to 6:30 pm. 

The idea happened shortly after the concert was announced.  Co-Producer Andreya Cherry says the planning and logistics have continued over the summer.

John Smith / WAER News

Visionaries are credited with discovering in 1985 what would become the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum.  The roughly six acre site was overgrown with brush and trash.  Three-bay dry docks were restored.  The rebuilt versions are the only ones that exist on the Erie Canal.

Gabrielle Caracciolo / WAER News

Democrat Joe Nicoletti is suspending his campaign after last week’s defeat by Juanita Perez-Williams, also a Democrat.  Nicoletti made the announcement at Perez-Williams' campaign headquarters on Monday.  He had the option of continuing because he was endorsed by the Working Families Party in addition to his own party.  Nicoletti asked for voters who supported his message of a better Syracuse to come on board.

Shoshana Stahl / WAER News

The Onondaga County Executive unveiled her proposed budget for 2018 to County Lawmakers today trimming the budget by $15 million over last year.  She feels the $1.3 billion spending plan is a result of many factors including a significantly downsized staff of employees who take on more work.

File photo / John Smith/WAER News

What’s next for the Democratic Committee of Onondaga County after their designated candidate for Syracuse Mayor lost Tuesday's primary?  Committee Chair Mark English feels the outcome doesn’t mean that the committee was off course in their thinking.

John Smith / WAER News

The Sacrifices of those on 9/11 and the years that followed in U.S. led conflicts were honored yesterday by awarding a smart home to 27 year-old retired U.S Army SPC E-4 Matt Leyva.  We took a look at the homes smart features on Monday in Pompey.  A patriotic themed event was staged outside of the home.  Picture this.  U.S. flags lined the driveway leading to the new home and a giant flag suspended to partially block the full view.  And then it was unveiled with the crowd prompted to say, “MOVE THAT FLAG!”  The home is situated on a spacious lot with a panoramic view of evergreens.

Leyva was injured during a foot patrol in Afghanistan when he likely triggered an I.E.D.  The blast resulted in Leyva completely losing his legs and several fingertips on both hands and two years of recovery.  He was sent to Germany and then Texas to recover.  The home’s smart features are a dream come true.  Leyva spoke to the crowd over a microphone.

Taylor Epps / WAER News

A State Senator from Central New York wants homeowners to get tax credits of $2,750 to allow those with mobility issues to retrofit or build a new home.  The Universal Visitability tax credit legislation was most recently passed by the State Legislature during the 2017 session.  John DeFrancisco says the $5 million program would be spread across five years.

  

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