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

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse Common Councilors want to make sure the state knows where they stand when it comes to redevelopment of I-81 north of the I-690 interchange.  Councilors passed a resolution Monday asking the governor to direct the DOT to acknowledge the potential damage that could be done by the current proposal.

Marlee Tuskes / WAER News

With the start of the holiday season, staff at the Barnes-Hiscock Mansion in Syracuse has spent the past few days decorating for the many events planned for December. And while one of the goals is to raise money to renovate the 163-year-old mansion, foundation director Mary Therese Zorbo says they’re also trying to raise awareness of the mansion and its rich history.

John Smith/WAERNews

The developer of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown is taking on another multi-million dollar building renovation project right across the street.  The old Symphony Tower, which was once connected to the old hotel by a pedestrian bridge, will take $24 to $26 million to complete and will be up and running by next fall, according to Co-Owner, Ed Riley.  He says that amount factors in the work that’s previously been performed and what’s left to complete.  Riley doesn’t think the new Hyatt brand hotel will  compete with the Marriott.

NYS Office of Information Technology Services /

Many Central New Yorkers probably don’t give a second thought to shopping on-line on Cyber Monday or any other time of the year.  Some might even get caught up with the deals, and not be as careful as they should be.

"There's a lot of emotional shopping going on," Radley said.  "When you're caught up in the excitement, you're less likely to pay attention to pop-ups or addresses that look strange because you're looking at the price or the sale."

Scott Willis / WAER News

A traveling photo exhibit at Onondaga Community College aims to show the Vietnam War through the uncensored and intimate lens of military photographers.  We caught up with Vietnam Veteran Marion Ervin, who served as chief executive officer of the Army’s 185th Maintenance Battalion  from 1971 to 1972.  He says he was one of many who served in Vietnam in a non-combat role.      


Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is getting behind a program she says could prevent families from becoming homeless.  A state proposal called The Home Stability Support program would provide a new rent supplement for those who are eligible for public assistance.  Miner says the program could expand upon the efforts of the city and county to keep families out of shelters and off the streets.

Marlee Tuskes / WAER News

The career and work of one of Syracuse’s most celebrated artists will be getting extra attention as part of the PBS series A Craftsman’s Legacy.  David MacDonald taught at Syracuse University for 40 years as part of the artist’s legacy that goes back more than 50…when he got his start in art school.

"I started out making ugly little pots like every introductory student does," MacDonald recalled.

But the medium quickly appealed to him.

Scott Willis / WAER News

A lengthy, national search for a new executive director for the Salvation Army turned up a candidate right here in Onondaga County who worked for the organization eight years ago.  Linda Lopez was introduced to the community Tuesday, and brings more than 30 years of experience in the human services field.

Syracuse Common Councilors Monday decided to stick with the company that helps the city with parking enforcement, ticketing, and immobilizing vehicles for another three years.  The agreement with Paylock didn’t come without questions about whether the city’s getting its money’s worth.

The numbers would seem to indicate the city is having success in issuing parking tickets.  but the trouble is getting violators to pay up.  Councilor Nader Maroun says there are about 80,000 outstanding tickets worth about $6 million.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Officials cut the ribbon Friday on a project aimed at bringing affordable housing to distinct neighborhoods on both ends of Salina Street.  The nearly $15 million, 49 unit Salina Crossing project is unique in that it encompasses ten scattered site properties.  The northside anchor is a 20-unit building that occupies the site of the old Otisca building.  Housing Visions Vice President Ben Lockwood says they and their partners took a big risk to tear it down before they even had a plan.