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

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.    

John Smith / WAER News

Democratic challengers running for Onondaga County Legislature say they want voters to have more access to government transparency and public input. The four fresh candidates in front of the County Courthouse in Syracuse unveiled a 5 point plan.  Tim Rudd is challenging 15th District Legislator and Legislature Chair Ryan McMahon. The group is calling for automatic public notices when a candidate’s financial disclosure forms are filed and higher amounts required in print.

DeWitt Canal Day Reaches 47 Years

Aug 3, 2015
Yonah Perline/WAER News

Thousands attended the 47th annual DeWitt Canal Day over the weekend trying to raise more awareness about the recreation and other advantages the area has for the region.  Event supervisor Christine Manchester says the trail system along the canal does draw significant attention.

John Smith/WAER News

The Onondaga Lakeview Amphitheater project is moving full speed ahead to time to welcome its first official act during the 2015 New York State Fair. Construction crews have been busy working a couple of shifts daily for months.  Country singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert will be the first official concert act on Thursday, September 3rd. In a statement provided by the County Executive’s office and concert promoter Live Nation, the singer acknowledges that she is no stranger to the area.

John Smith/ WAER News

At least things seem to go together well when we approach these hot days of summer, a shady spot, cool drinks and music!  The line-up of Jazz in the City will return next month with four free concerts to cover all city neighborhoods with national and local jazz artists.  Organizers are offering more concerts this year after being awarded a $10,000 dollar “Challenge America” grant.  Larry Luttinger says the concerts are being delivered to residents who may not ever be able to travel downtown for the larger summer festivals.

John Smith/WAER News

Just before the foot of the bridge on US Route 11 North that crosses over the New York State Canal in Brewerton where drivers are about to leave Onondaga County and magically cross over into Oswego County on the other side is a park you might miss the entrance to. That’s because there is no official entrance.