Scott Willis

Host, Reporter, Producer

I’ve always been enamored with the intimacy of radio.  It’s so personal.  It forces you to listen…and listen only.  No visual distractions.  I grew up listening to mostly top 40 radio in Detroit, with no shortage of entertaining DJ’s.  As a teenager, I discovered the area’s all news station.  I loved knowing what was going on, and the intensity with which they told stories.  I often wondered what it would be like to be the first to know what was happening, and then tell others.  Maybe that’s why I pursued a career in news. 

I would go on to serve as an intern at that all-news station, and it was amazing and maybe a little overwhelming to see what it took to put out a constant stream of news.  But something was missing.  It wasn’t until after I graduated from college that I actually discovered Detroit’s public radio station at my alma mater.  What a difference!  You had time to write and tell engaging, meaningful stories, to be creative, all without the pressure to constantly crank out the news.  Quality over quantity.  That’s when I knew public radio was for me.  I was hooked.

I would hone my skills on and off for almost three years at WDET as an intern under the tutelage of a patient Assistant News Director. I produced daily stories for newscasts, but also was given the privilege of producing long-form features on topics that interested me, and that people knew very little about.  Now THAT was cool.  Right up my alley.  What budding reporter could ask for more?

I landed here in Syracuse in June 2001.  Today, I’ve come full circle, and now teach the craft to more than a dozen student reporters per week.  We work hard to choose informative stories, find the most engaging sound, and edit copy for clarity and accuracy. 

Outside of work, I spend time with my wife and little boy.  We like to take walks, travel, and read.  When I can, I’ll hop on my bike for a quick ride.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the honor and privilege of bringing WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners the news of the day during All Things Considered.  Thanks for listening.

Ways to Connect

A number of additional improvements are greeting visitors to this year’s New York State Fair, but what’s planned for next year that could transform the venue year-round.  Governor Andrew Cuomo helped open the fair this morning, and says while he’s impressed by this year’s new midway sky tram, there’s something else he says will truly boost attendance and tourism.

"I'm even more excited for the new Expo Center next year...130,000 square feet...the largest convention expo center north of New York the entire Northeast," Cuomo said.

The results of this year’s Common Core related standardized tests show scores for New York’s school children inching up. Around one fifth of the children boycotted the tests altogether, due to continued controversy over the Common Core learning standards.

State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia says she’s pleased with the progress made in the 2017 test results. While scores improved by nearly 2% from last year, the results show that only around 40% of students in grades three through eight are considered proficient in English and math.

Scott Willis / WAER News

The New York State Fair opens Wednesday morning to start an extended 13-day run through Labor Day.  WAER News joined a media preview of some highlights.

It wouldn't be the fair if we didn't mention food, so we start right inside the main gate, where Syracuse-based Recess Coffee now greets visitors at the main information building.  Communications director Cathy Roosa says they’re experimenting with different foods.

Bridget McAllister / WAER News

Though not directly in its path, Central New York was abuzz Monday afternoon over the first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. since 1979.  Hundreds of Syracuse residents gathered on Syracuse University campus for an Eclipse Party, hosted by the university’s physics department, sharing safety glasses and telescopes to catch a glimpse of the moon’s shadow.  Thrilled spectators found that communities often band together to share such unusual celestial experiences.

"It's so exciting!"

"I'm really excited...I'm hyped."

Fred Espenak / NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Central New Yorkers will be joining others from across the state and country Monday to catch a glimpse of a total solar eclipse.  Science shows the rare celestial event is part coincidence, but it was often misunderstood in ancient times.

Imagine you lived thousands of years ago, knew nothing of the planets and solar system, and the sun suddenly disappeared for a few minutes.  Cornell Astronomy Professor Phil Nicholson says it would be a surprise.

Bridget McAllister / WAER News

The tradition of progress and equality in Central New York is providing guidance in a dark moment gripping our nation.  Syracuse University’s Bird Library Friday hosted an impromptu showcase of rare documents, photographs, and other materials celebrating the work of activists and revolutionaries like Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi.  While library exhibits usually take a year to prepare, Special Collections Research Senior Director Lucy Mulroney says recent events caused staff to organize the showcase in only a day.

Dozens of vendors will be on hand Friday evening at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo showcasing cuisine and art from a number of continents.  The Arts and Culture Festival is an effort to bridge cultural gaps and promote the area’s diversity.

While the festival was planned long before the violence in Charlottesville, founder and executive director of Believe in Syracuse John DeSantis says the celebration comes at a perfect time.

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

Former 2010 gubernatorial candidate and Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino has been removed from the Buffalo school board, in a ruling by the state education commissioner issued Thursday. His attorneys are appealing.

Meghan Burke / WAER News

Distracted driving.  School bus safety.  Pedestrian awareness.  All were part of The Onondaga County Traffic Safety Advisory Board’s annual “Share the Road Expo” Wednesday at Destiny USA.  Police and experts from many agencies provided safety information, impaired driving simulators, and even a mini bike rodeo. Sergeant John Seeber at the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department says it’s about staying safe and educating people of all ages about traffic safety.

Public health care in Central New York is safe for another year.  Utica-area Congressmember Claudia Tenney was awarded the Health Center Supporter Award by the Family Health Network of Central New York at a stop Wednesday in Cortland.  Network CEO Walter Priest commended Tenney for helping to secure $1.5 billion in federal health center funding in the 2018 House budget before the money ran out.