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 ! 

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John Smith / WAER News

A Republican intends to challenge a two-time incumbent Democrat for the City Council’s 2nd District seat.  Edward Ott of Syracuse is challenging Councilor Chad Ryan.  As a driver for a wheelchair transport service, Ott feels his job brings “street-level perspective” to his campaign.  It’s something he feels that most city lawmakers never see, especially if they hold office jobs.

He says that people in the district have expressed issues with crime, the Father’s Day Riot last summer and other items they’re concerned about.

John Smith / WAER News

One of America’s leading environmentalists says it’s just not fair to push climate change impacts – or finding solutions – off onto the younger generations. Bill McKibben was keynote speaker today to launch Earth Week activities at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. McKibben calls it an honor to be speaking at ESF …and says young people are rallying to the cause. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

Direct Care Professionals in Central New York who provide support to the developmentally disabled could have a significant wage increase on the horizon for the first time in 8 years.  Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders have agreed to include $55 million dollars in the state budget to raise their wages.  Access CNY Director Paul Joslyn says the money will go a long way to deliver the extra money his employees deserve for their dedication to very difficult work.

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Two State lawmakers from Central New York have a difference of opinion as to why the State Budget hasn’t been finalized.  Monday, the Legislature voted in favor of a budget extender to keep the government operational through May.  Assemblymember Al Stirpe said it’s conceivable that the Assembly could print-out budget bills and wrap-up the budget process.  He feels both sides have already met in the middle.

John Smith/WAER News

For the past two days, the 15th Annual New York State Green Building Council brought together experts from the field to discuss the latest trends and advancements.  A discussion on green home building designs was held Friday morning.  The Owner of Unity Homes, Tedd Benson of New Hampshire, designs energy efficient homes with an array of solar panels based on how much power they’ll draw.  His formula for larger homes built in colder climates requires about 7 kilowatts per square foot.

John Smith / WAER News

SUNY Upstate is bringing together medical experts to figure out ways to help those Central New Yorkers suffering from opioid and heroin addiction.  A two-day symposium in Syracuse is delving into the multitude of issues and ways to prevent it altogether.  Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul says kids are often brought into the world with the problem, even locally. 

“What troubles me about this Onondaga area, Syracuse and Central New York, is that you have the third highest rate of babies being born now addicted to these substances.”

WAER Archive

Advocates in here in Syracuse and in New York State are standing behind refugees and immigrants against policy statements from Washington. In the wake of Attorney General Sessions’ threat to cut funding from sanctuary cities, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is holding firm, even after a threat by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to cut funds from sanctuary cities.

Plastic Bag Waste Becoming a Growing Concern in New York State

Mar 27, 2017
Scott Willis / WAER News

Twenty-three billion. That’s the number of plastic bags New Yorkers use every year. Governor Andrew Cuomo recently launched a task force to address the issue. Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency Executive Director Dereth Glance says plastic bags never really break down and decompose. If they’re not recycled properly, Glance says they can cause harm to the environment.

OnTech Charter School / King & King Architects

Some lower income residents and immigrants in Syracuse may have a better option to acquire diplomas and career-ready skills when the OnTech Charter High School opens in the summer of 2018.  The school’s mission is to deliver an education that’s tailor-made to prepare marginalized students for the workforce using a technique called project-based learning, in addition to Regents coursework.  OnTECH’s founder and president, Ellen Eagen, explains how different this is from the test taking culture Americans are used to.

John Smith / WAER News

The City of Syracuse’s longstanding infrastructure problems seem to be even more commonplace with water main breaks during the winter.  Members of the Rebuild New York Now coalition joined Mayor Stephanie Miner today to share similar concerns about the impacts of bad infrastructure on water quality or contamination.  She feels optimistic about Governor Cuomo’s pledge to spend a massive amount on infrastructure repairs.  Now she hopes state lawmakers will include those plans in the State Budget.

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