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/WAERNews

Experts who want to develop the next cutting-edge technology to support the power grid, electronic devices and electric cars are at the Energy Storage Technology conference Thursday at Marriott Syracuse Downtown.

Held by New York Best, the annual event brought together some of the best researchers on energy storage systems in the world.

Bill Acker, executive director at New York Best, said main businesses are now implementing the technology.

What can the chosen candidate of New York’s 24th Congressional District do to bring more jobs and improve the economy in Central New York?  We’ve heard from the candidates on social security and on drug policy.  Today WAER’s Chris Bolt asks the candidates how they are trying to cope with a business landscape that’s constantly evolving.

John Smith/WAER News

If the cooler nights don’t already have Central New Yorkers thinking ahead about cold weather, National Grid released its pricing forecast for the Winter Heating Season today in Liverpool.  An average homeowner’s natural gas bills for heating should be around $455.00.  Regional Executive Melanie Littlejohn says that’s about $12.00 cheaper than a typical winter season.

Chris Bolt/WAER News

The Onondaga County Sheriff's Office released more details from a recent prostitution sting in Salina that led to eight men being arrested including the former Dean of the Whitman School at Syracuse University. The sting was a joint investigation with the State Police. Sheriff Gene Conway was publicly criticized for withholding further details on the investigation. However, he said the delay was necessary because the sting was compromised.

Onondaga County Lawmakers reviewed the County Executive’s budget proposal for parks and recreation.  Tucked inside is a substantial $75,000 that isn’t specifically named but was presumed to be budgeted for Syracuse Jazz Fest.   There appears to be an indication that the funding could also be tied to a change in venue.

Visit Syracuse

Central New York could be seeing more tourists from places such as China, the U.K., Ireland and Australia thanks to the I Love New York Campaign.  For the past few days, about 50 motorcoach and tour operators have been sightseeing what the area has to offer. Visit Syracuse President David Holder says the tourism industry will grow if there is a relationship between tour operators and local tourist sites.

John Smith / WAER News

Driver’s will be get reacquainted to programming themselves to be extra observant for students and yellow school buses with flashing lights as a new school year begins this week in Onondaga County.  Law enforcement from Cicero, DeWitt, Geddes, Liverpool, and North Syracuse came together today at Liverpool Elementary to remind drivers it’s time for them to be more vigilant.  North Syracuse Police SGT. Jeff Tripp says drivers will be watched closely.

John Smith / WAER News

  Indian Village at the New York State Fair will see $750,000 worth of improvements over the next year as the state continues it's $50 million makeover of the fairgrounds.  The announcement came during Six Nations Day at the New York State Fair Friday.  

The Indian Village has virtually stayed the same at the state fair for years now.  However, that’s about to change.   Superintendent of the Village Norm Jimerson says the news is lifting the members’ spirits.

John Smith/WAER News

  Every year people honor or remember loved ones during Armed Forces Day at the New York State Fair.  Bricks inscribed with the names of service members, both living and deceased, are on display at the Veteran’s Memorial in front of the Horticulture Building.  Scott Zirbel came from Auburn to honor his father Lloyd Zirbel who served as a Military Police Officer during World War Two.


One display at the New York State Fair Wednesday was trying to help people save lives in the face of the national heroin and opiate overdose epidemic.  A-C-R Health employees know all too well the impacts of the addiction.