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

John Smith / WAER News

It’s National ‘Go Red for Women Day’ and aside from Central New Yorkers wearing red, you might have noticed many of the buildings around the City of Syracuse lit-up in red to raise awareness and funds to fight cardiovascular disease.  According to the American Heart Association, only 17 percent of women consider heart disease to be the greatest health problem in America today.  Local spokesperson Kristy Smorol is determined to defeat the number one killer of women.

Sunny Balkin / WAER News

Six finalist companies participating in the GENIUS NY program in Syracuse are receiving their share of more than $3 million dollars in investments from Empire State Development Corporation.  They’re creating new innovations at the Tech Garden to advance UAS or Unmanned Aerial Systems that supports the many applications of drones. 

Some of the innovations range from helping grow agriculture to solutions for urban planning.  Co-founders of Dropcopter Adam Fine and Mike Wench created their company to pick-up where declining bee populations left-off.


The graduation rates at three community colleges in Central New York are going up, according to a new study.  However it also finds that only one-in-four students are graduating in three years.

John Smith/WAER News

Syracuse City Schools 8th graders are getting to explore what future careers might be for them.  The Career and Technical Education Expo was held Wednesday at the Public Service leadership Academy at Fowler.

Twenty-six programs covering professions such as the expanding drone industry, cosmetology and becoming an electrician or a welder were on display. 

8th graders will soon choose if a C-T-E track of study is right for them as they enter 9th grade.  All it takes is a fulfilling experience that leads to a spark of interest.

John Smith/WAER News

Have you ever wanted to attend an ice block party outside in the cold?  Maybe you never thought of it, but you’ll get your chance next month at the 34th Syracuse Winterfest.  President Bill Cooper says the location for the block party is outside the Marriott Syracuse Downtown.

“Well, they’re making a huge ice-bar which will be featured for the cold-spell.  Then, they’re blocking-off Warren Street with food trucks, a warming tent, entertainment… culminating with fireworks off the parking garage."

City Limits- The Path to Homelessness

Jan 9, 2018

There can be a myriad of reasons that someone becomes homeless. But, what happens when youth have nowhere to live and what circumstances led up to it?  John Smith introduces us to two young people in that situation as part of the City Limits project.

If you like what you hear find more content from the project at . And subscribe in ITunes for automatic delivery of new episodes

Scott Willis / WAER News

A Climatologist from the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University says Central New York’s biggest concern from the Nor’easter will likely be dangerously cold wind chills.  That could also mean breaking a few temperature records.

After a brief break of the really cold temperatures, we’re about to get even colder.  Jessica Spaccio says the coldest temperature changes will occur Thursday night through Sunday morning.

John Smith/WAER News

An end-of-year gift to Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital today will support pediatric cancer research and specialized support to kids and families struggling with the disease.  Paige’s Butterfly Run is held every June and the organization presented $210,000. 

Paige was diagnosed with cancer while completing the end of first grade in 1993 and lost her fight one year later.  Her father Chris Arnold wants to make patients and families going through the same tragedy  as comfortable as possible.

John Smith/WAER News

Automotive Technology students at Onondaga Community College could be landing internships with a high-end electric vehicle company by the fall of 2018.  A letter-of-intent has been reached between the college and Tesla.  The company brought an EV worth about $147,000 to the college with doors that mechanically lift upwards.  Perhaps the white leather seats and large electronic dashboard will also draw you in.  However, if you’re an Automotive Technology student like Anton Prusakob, you look beneath the surface.