‘He had a heart of gold’: Former studio manager at WJXT, John Cermack, dies unexpectedly

Former co-workers at Channel 4 are heartbroken by Cermack’s passing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dependable, determined and dedicated.

Those are the words being used to describe former WJXT floor director and studio manager, John Cermack, also known by his nickname “Smack.” Cermack died unexpectedly Thursday night due to an accident.

He had worked for Graham Media Group for more than 18 years and was most recently working with the engineering team at WSLS in Roanoke. Cermack left Channel 4 in Jacksonville in December 2021 for that promotion in Roanoke.

John Cermack, former WJXT studio director (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

“I worked with John for 8 years. He would give you the shirt off his back, if you needed it. My heart is so heavy learning today of his death,” News4JAX anchor Jennifer Waugh said. “I just heard from him earlier this month. He texted me wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day. He was a loyal friend who loved his family with all his being. My prayers are with them as they grieve this sudden, tremendous loss.”

“Smack built us all up. He was our hype man. Such a genuine guy, dearly missed,” News4JAX anchor Vic Micolucci said.

Vic, John and Mary (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

“My heart aches. I’ll miss you Smack. We always used to kid each other, because we loved each other,” former News4JAX anchor Rob Sweeting said.

“Rest in peace to John Cermack….my ‘brotha from another mother.’ Smack called me that all the time and he meant it. He was more than a co-worker, John was a friend. The ‘King of Smacksylvania’ he would say. He even carried around a card in his wallet with his Smacksylvania credentials. What a sense of humor he had! I’ll never forget his laugh. Rest easy my friend. No tears in heaven, but plenty for you here on earth. Love you bro.” News4JAX anchor Tarik Minor said.

John Cermack, former WJXT studio director (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Cermack would affectionally call News4JAX anchor Jenese Harris the “Duchess from Detroit.”

“Whether it was his raspy voice, jokes or contagious laughter, Smack was one of a kind as a floor director and as a man. You will be missed,” Jenese said.

“Professionally he knew how to hustle when needed and always treated us well in the studio, occasionally treating us with hors d’oeuvres on the set! Never expected, but always appreciated. He loved to grill hamburgers for special occasions for the newsroom and had a heart of gold. Personally, he was a dear friend, loyal to the core. So many memories! I miss him already,” News4JAX anchor Mary Baer said.

John Cermack (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Earlier this month, News4JAX published a podcast in commemoration of John Gaughan and Mary Baer’s retirement at the end of the month. It’s called “Thanks 4 Thirty Years”. In that podcast, Mary talks about her friendship with Smack.

Click below to watch.

John’s siblings shared their love for him.

“He had a sweet disposition and selflessness to lend a hand no matter the personal inconvenience. John is dependable to a fault,” his brother Tom said.

Tom and his sister, Barbara, said John had an inimitable ability to make you feel truly welcomed into his home and life. They will always remember his deep love and affection for his “large and sometimes boisterous family, especially for his nieces and nephews.”

John Cermack (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

They also issued this statement: “Those of us who shared our lives with John are truly blessed. For those who did not get to share time with John, we truly hope and pray someone very like him will share your journey soon. On behalf of the extended Cermack family, we thank you with all of our hearts.”

The family announced his funeral for Thursday, June 29 at 11 a.m. at Resurrection Catholic Church, 3383 University Blvd North, Jacksonville, Florida 32277

John Cermack hugs Tom Wills (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

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