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 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

Bob Gates

More than 100 acres of land on a hilltop in Cazenovia with walking trails and an extensive display of art sculptures will be able to continue following a generous gift left behind by one of its founders.  The place is known as Stone Quarry Hill Art Park.  Friends of Dorothy Riester say that she viewed - life itself - as a work of art.  Longtime friend and Stone Quarry Hill Art Park Historian Steven Waldron recalls a particular visit with Dorothy.

John Smith / WAER News

Talented Veterans from across Central New York received awards today in the Creative Arts local competition, and some could be advancing to the national level of the contest.  While the artists certainly take pride in their work, the creative process can be very therapeutic and healing.  Laurelle Kaley spent 20 years in the military before she retired in 2005.  She said the military gave her direction and support, and art filled that void when she left.

Town of Onondaga Historical Society/

A group of Onondaga Community College students is preparing a play to memorialize the historic 100th anniversary of the tragedy known as The Disaster at Split Rock.  It happened July 2, 1918 on the site of a former limestone quarry turned munitions factory during World War One not too far from the college.  OCC Journalism Professor Laurel Saiz says overheated equipment is believed to have sparked a fire that ignited a dynamite storage facility.

"So people's body parts were found, like, half a mile, a mile away."

New York State Smoking Rate at All-Time Low

Feb 22, 2018
New York State Department of Health

It appears fewer adults in New York State are smoking these days, in fact, fewer than ever. The State Health department tracked smokers from 2011 to 2016, and found the rate has declined by 22 percent to just 14.2 percent. That is below the national average. Dr. Beth Gero is from the CNY Regional Center for Tobacco Health Systems at St. Joseph’s Health Center. She said some areas in Upstate New York have not seen that steep of a decline in adult smokers.

Jubilee Initiative Hosts Vigil to Honor Florida Shooting Victims

Feb 19, 2018
Lileana Pearson / WAER NEWS

A group of Syracuse residents are saying thoughts and prayers are not enough in the wake of last week’s Florida school shooting. Instead, they are getting out into the community to discover what they can do to help.

This past Saturday, a group of peace activists called the Jubilee Initiative hosted a vigil in honor of those affected by the Florida school shooting.  Several Syracuse residents gathered at Willow Bay on Onondaga Lake to pay their respects to those whose lives were lost, but more importantly, to start a conversation about safety in schools.

John Smith / WAER News

It could soon be a crime in Onondaga County to leave a dog outside in rain, sleet, snow, or extreme heat or cold for any more than two hours.  County lawmakers are making changes to the proposed Adrian’s Law to protect man’s best friend.  Adrian was a pit bull that froze to death in December in Syracuse.  Legislator Chris Ryan revised language in the bill to make it simple to enforce … for any breed of dog.

Chris Bolt/WAER News

Can your smart phone make you safer in the City of Syracuse?  Mayor Ben Walsh joined members of the Syracuse Police Department to roll out new technology to help reduce crime and improve community relations. You might have a phone app to find your way around or get a ride, maybe check the weather or play a game. Deputy Chief Joe Cecile wants you to get another app for community benefit.


A new workforce education program at Onondaga Community College has reimagined the typical process of finding a career in the growing manufacturing industry. The Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training Program is designed to give 10 Central New Yorkers an opportunity to change jobs and also earn a paycheck from a choice of four local companies. Associate Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at OCC Mike Metzgar said a four year paid-apprenticeship is guaranteed after 10 weeks of training.

An Associate Political Science Professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School says both Republicans and Democrats should be able to come together on reaching an immigration deal.  Elizabeth Cohen thinks that President Trump isn’t providing a clear picture of what U.S. immigration really resembles and she feels that he continues to portray immigrants as criminals.

John Smith/WAER News

The Syracuse Area Music Awards has unveiled the list of nominees for the 2018 SAMMY’s.  A competitive field of talented artists representing 14 music genres had judges making difficult decisions.  In less than a month, area musicians will be awarded for their local music contributions for the albums they produced in 2017.  E.S.P., Harmonic Dirt and Phantom Chemistry are some of the cool names on the nominees list.  Local Syracuse Radio DJ Dixon shared the nominees for the Best Jazz category.