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

Onondaga Lake marked a major milestone this week when dredging and capping operations were declared complete.  As recently as 15 years ago, and as far back as a century, many felt the lake and its habitat would never be restored after decades of industrial pollution.  Centerstate CEO President Rob Simpson says  that cynicism has persisted as a metaphor for the region on several fronts.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Volunteer Fire departments in Onondaga County and across the state will open their doors this weekend in hopes of adding new members to their ranks.  The seventh annual Recruit NY campaign gives residents a chance to talk with firefighters about various volunteer opportunities and to see firefighting demonstrations.  Firemen’s Association of the State of New York President Ken Pienkowski says more volunteers are needed to ensure the protection of New Yorkers without additional cost to taxpayers.

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

State lawmakers and lobby groups say Governor Cuomo was in error when he said that there was no political will to enact reforms in 2017.

Democratic lawmakers, along with the League of Women voters, rallied outside the Senate chambers for bills that would allow same day voting, and early voting by mail in New York State.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins says the most recent Presidential election should serve as a “wake up call” about the importance of voting and access to polling machines.

Syracuse Lawyer Encourages Employers to Support Working Immigrants

Apr 25, 2017
Michael Mulford / WAER News

A Syracuse immigration lawyer is still encouraging employers to sponsor immigrant workers despite the Trump administration’s added scrutiny of the skilled worker visa program.  Andrea Godfread-Brown with Brown and Palumbo held a workshop Tuesday afternoon to educate both business owners and immigrant workers about working in the U.S. with or without a visa.  She said that while immigrants come to the country eager and ready to work, potential employers are skeptical because of their citizenship status.

https://www.aoc.gov/

A Le Moyne College political science expert doesn’t feel the federal government is heading for a shutdown at the end of the week if the president and Congress can’t agree on a budget.

“I think that the more likely outcome would be a continuing resolution, which is what we’ve had in the past to sort of get over these problems, which essentially amounts to kicking the can down the road – really, it would just be funding the government at its current level and then sort of revisiting the issue probably in the fall.”

Scott Willis / WAER News

Onondaga County’s health commissioner says recent rankings of the community’s overall health indicate our behaviors are more of a factor in determining health outcomes more than the availability and quality of care. While residents can make better choices, social and economic factors also come in to play. 

Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta says the big picture is key when looking at a person’s overall health. 

"In public health we say ‘everything affects health,’ and then also ‘health affects everything.’"

Chris Bolt / WAER News

A new AAA report shows that nearly 4,000 tickets were issued to motorists in Onondaga County in 2015 for using their cell phones and texting while driving.  Legislative analyst and report author Alex Slatky called the situation ‘an epidemic’ and said people need to be more aware of the severity of distracted driving.

Zero Tolerance on Move Over Law to be Enforced in Onondaga County

Apr 10, 2017
Nate Bellavia / WAER News

Law enforcement officials in Onondaga County will be targeting motorists next week who don’t observe the state’s Move Over Law. Today, County Police Chief Joseph Ciciarelli says they’re launching a zero tolerance enforcement of the law from April 17th through the 21st. James Waverkak of Meyer’s Towing works on the thruway and faces the dangers of the highway every day. He thinks only about 60% of drivers obey the Move Over Law.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner released the final budget of her administration Monday, which she says was made more difficult by the late state budget and uncertainty about federal funding.  The $700 million spending plan includes $293 million for city operations, and $407 million for city schools, which anticipated $20 million in additional state aid.  But Miner says the state only came through with $12 million in its budget approved Sunday night. 

Marc Ramos / Symphoria's facebook page

Symphoria is looking ahead to another successful season even though the current slate of performances doesn’t wrap up for another month. The orchestra is planning a variety of music at a range of venues in hopes of appealing to a broader audience.

From masterworks and pops…to kids, casual, and spark concerts, managing director Catherine Underhill says there’s likely to be something for everyone when the new season opens in September.  She feels it’s part of their mission to provide an opportunity to take in live music.

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