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

Country Music Star Jason Aldean was no match, attendance wise, when offering $1.00 admission to the NYS Fair on Labor Day 2014. More people gave the turnstiles and ticket takers a work-out on Monday than they did when Aldean appeared on Saturday and helped to break the all-time attendance record for that day.

John Smith/ WAER News

Not everyone is going to the last day of the 2014 State Fair just because of dollar offerings. Syracuse and Central New York workers make the annual trek to the fair to join in strong numbers to show the pride they feel about their jobs, serving their communities and the respective union that backs them with worker's rights and protections. They started off with the usual parade procession from the Indian Village to Chevy Court. CSEA members chanted, "We are the union... the mighty, mighty union," as they held signs.


John Smith/WAER News

As traffic jams galore on Interstate-690 and Hiawatha Boulevard had  Jason Aldean  fans jittery to make the sold out Grandstand concert on time, Senator Chuck Schumer made sure he arrived early. His 'flesh pressing' mission is to shake 10,000 fairgoers hands !

John Smith/WAER News

  It was as if Veterans' Day came early today during a ceremony in Syracuse to honor Veterans and those currently serving in the US Armed Forces.  The State Fair is honoring veterans with a day reserved just for them.  Among all of the flags waving in the breeze special attention was paid to our nation’s flag and the 200th Anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner.

Veteran Harold Mundstock of North Syracuse served in Vietnam and was teary-eyed thinking about those he served… and his wife’s brother who served 27 years in the US Air Force and then contracted Agent Orange.

John Smith/WAER News

  Congressional Candidate John Katko says he was cleared of any wrongdoing after a gun he owned was stolen and used in a fatal armed robbery.  Syracuse.com reported today that the former prosecutor has been hiding the theft.  Back in 2000 it resulted in the gun being used in a crime in which two people were killed.  Katko defends himself against any responsibility for that crime.

John Smith/WAER News

  On the 80th Anniversary of Women’s Day at the New York State Fair… Leading ladies have returned to Central New York to inspire and empower women. Syracuse native Yvonne Conte began as a stand-up comic but has been motivating and encouraging women through motivational speaking for almost 20 years.  She was the keynote speaker for today’s annual luncheon.

Onondaga County Sheriff's Office

An escapee from the Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Center was returned to police custody on Monday afternoon.

Detectives said 15-year-old Dennis Rice climbed over a fence from inside the Detention Center's recreation area around 5 PM Sunday. The search resumed early Monday morning with several units, including some from the New York/New Jersey Fugitive Task Force.

Rice had been placed at Hillbrook on a pending felony charge. Onondaga County Sheriff PIO John Seeber explained that a fugitive search means the Sheriff's Office had little choice but to release a photo and description of Rice, to make finding him possible:

wall with SALT makerspace decal, surrounding by saws and wood working equipment
John Smith / WAER News

Tucked away in the Delavan Art Center are a couple of workshop areas for those who want to create something out of handcrafted wood, metal designs or 3D design and modeling.  Aspiring woodcrafters or high-tech sculptors can learn it all from instructors - all in one place developed by a Syracuse University Alum. 

It’s called the SALT Makerspace on the Near West Side, which stands for Syracuse Arts Learning and Technology. Mike Giannattasio, the founder and organizer of the space, says it all began with a dream:

Chris Bolt / WAER News

Members of the Syracuse Peace Council and Peace Action were joined by concerned residents Wednesday for a procession in commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. 

The atomic bombing (followed by the bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945) occurred 69 years ago, and resulted in the deaths of 140,000 people who were either killed on impact or died later from the effects of the thermal waves and radiation. 

John Smith/WAER News

  The new owners of the Wells and Coverly building envision opening the doors in September with a look above Armory Square.  Nicole and Kevin Samolis have been renovating the building since the Spring of 2013 and now the big rush to complete the building by September is on.  There will be three levels of create-your-own event space at a place called SKY Armory (see an artist's view: HERE).  The large halls will capture rustic, wooden ceilings.

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