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

Jane Hong / WAER News

Up on one of the highest points in Syracuse that overlooks Onondaga County is a new challenge course, operated by Syracuse University’s Department of Recreation Services. W-A-E-R attended today’s opening event earlier this morning.  There were a few individuals already trying out the course when we arrived.

regional market
John Smith / WAER

The fall harvest season has finally arrived, along with the Harvest Moon, and Central New Yorkers can look forward to a bountiful produce selection as cooler weather sets in.  

Farmers gathered at the Syracuse Regional Farmers’ Market on Thursday to sell fruits and vegetables with the familiar tastes of fall.  Wayne Haas, of Farmer Haas in Onondaga, worked for the Syracuse Fire Department for 30 years and decided to farm his land when he retired:

As you walk into the main lobby of Camillus Ridge Terrace, you’re immediately drawn to the view of a hallway with exterior facades of buildings. They have bright, pastel colored siding and windows.  A peek inside reveal’s a beauty and barber shop and an old-fashioned Ice Cream Parlor.  The neon lighting is reflected with a silver wall border.  It’s a home away from home atmosphere that Administrator Josh Santiago says they strive to create.  But the decision to live there or other facilities like it is not an easy one for residents or their families.

Hannah Warren / WAER News


Native craft-makers gathered at the Onondaga Nation Arena over the weekend to sell their work and raise money for the Onondaga Nation Education Group.  The effort raises funds to support Native Students attending college in the Syracuse area, and it attracted vendors from across New York State for the event.

John Smith / WAER News

Onondaga County Residents began their day early this morning honoring the victims and first responders in observance of the 12th Anniversary of Nine Eleven.  At least 200 people stood in silence for 17 minutes beginning at 8:46 AM at Foreman Park in Syracuse to honor them.

As Tuesday's Democratic Primary looms, the campaigns of three candidates for the Syracuse Mayoral Race were busy trying to get their word out today.  In addition to fulfilling his duties as City Councilor, Pat Hogan planned on attending a rally today on a key campaign topic.

“Syracuse Firefighters have a rally at station house seven which was closed by the mayor and then there will be a kick-off rally basically to try and take back the city and put the city in a new direction starting tomorrow.”

John Smith / WAER News

SUNY E-S-F is getting closer to its goal to achieving carbon neutrality by 2015.  A ribbon cutting was held Friday to officially dedicate the college’s newest building. 

The Gateway Center has a three million dollar combined heat and electric system powered by biomass and natural gas.  Executive Director of Energy and Sustainability Michael Kelleher explains the process once the wood pellets are loaded. 

John Smith / WAER News

The Grand Marshall of this year’s Labor Day Parade at the State Fair was led by a current military member.  Senior Master SGT. Toby Shelly’s 29 year career in the military has taken him on a rewarding journey.  He’s now a Superintendent with craftsmen for an Engineering Unit with the 174th Fighter Wing at Hancock Field.

John Smith, WAER News / 2013 NYS State Fair Exhibit

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take a trip through New York State Fair History in Syracuse?  The ferris wheel wasn't always on the midway as we know it today.

John Smith / WAER News

The State Fair is winding down, and if you’re looking for something different to check out, the Empire State Theatre and Musical Museum in the Art and Home Center might fit the bill.  Sure, you’ll be hoofing it all over the fairgrounds, but spare yourself some energy to perform some 'pedal pumping' on a player piano from the early 1900’s.