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.

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2014 NEW YORK STATE FAIR
12:17 am
Wed August 20, 2014

NYS Fair's New Midway Taking Shape

Wade Shows owner Frank Zaitshik
Scott Willis WAER News

For the first time since the 1960's, a new team will be running the midway at the New York State Fair.  Wade Shows of Michigan and Florida will operate  63 rides, 25 concession stands, 70 games, and 25 other amusements for the next 10 years as part of a $10.7 million contract.  They replace James E. Strates Shows of Florida, ending decades of tradition.  With the change comes new thrill rides, old favorites, and perhaps closer attention to detail and customer service, as promised by Wade Shows owner Frank Zaitshik.

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ART EXHIBIT
11:41 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Arise's "Unique" Exhibit at the Everson Features Voices, Visions of Those with Different Abilities

Artist Michael Simmons in front of his oil painting "The Lone Wolf."
Scott Willis WAER News

 A large part of the Everson museum has been set aside for the next couple weeks to display the art of those who might have no other way to express themselves.  The “Unique” exhibit and magazine  are the result of a partnership between Arise, the museum and several sponsors.   Artists of differing abilities submitted more than 180 pieces of art from a six county region.  One of them was Michael Simmons of Watertown.  

This was Simmons' second entry to Unique.  He prefers the process used by some of the masters.  

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP
6:40 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Hillside Hatchery Program Mentors Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs

Students tour the Syracuse Tech Garden and speak with successful entrepreneurs
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

About 20 Syracuse high school students got a taste this week of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur – including all the risks and rewards of owning their own business.  It’s the first-ever “Hillside Hatchery” training program under, the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection.  Thursday, the students got a tour of the Syracuse Technology Garden, where many start-ups bloom and grow.  

Isaiah Spann will be a senior at Corcoran High School.  He says the program has provided a solid foundation for him:  “It’s a good first step for people to learn about entrepreneurship at a young age, so they gave us this opportunity to speak to these entrepreneurs to learn what we can do with business.”

 Lisa Berardi is Director of Operations at Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection. She says, “Graduation is our goal. We’re not looking to just graduate students, but we’re looking to build them, and their skills and their abilities to have successful experiences after high school. For some of them, that means college, for some that might mean a trade school, for some of them they’re not looking to continue their education, they’re looking to start working right away. 

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HEROIN EPIDEMIC
10:46 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Drug Ring Bust Nets 14 Arrests, 10,000 Packets of Heroin

Credit narconon.org

Federal and local law enforcement agencies have broken up a large drug trafficking ring that brought heroin from Newark, NJ to the Syracuse area.  Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says his office and the Drug Enforcement Agency began investigating the drug ring a year ago.   Federal agents seized 10,000 packets of heroin totaling 13 ounces, and 19 people have either been arrested or face arrest in connection to the ring.   The alleged leader of the trafficking organization, 41-year-old Calvin Marshall, was one of six arraigned Wednesday morning on conspiracy and drug possession charges, with Marshall accused of being a major trafficker.  Eight others have already pleaded guilty, and 7 of them have been sentenced.  Police are trying to track down the remaining five.   In addition to the heroin, investigators also seized $100,000 in cash and property, and a handgun. DA Fitzpatrick says their investigation doesn’t end with this bust; he says his office will continue to partner with federal, state, and local agencies to stop the influx of heroin into the community.   The following individuals were arrested  Tuesday in a coordinated raid:

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MENTAL HEALTH
11:33 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Robin Williams' Death Sparks Renewed Conversation About Depression, Suicide

Robin Williams performs in New York in 2007. He died Monday at age 63 of an apparent suicide.
Credit Evan Agostini / AP, via npr.org

A Syracuse University clinical psychologist is urging people to be aware and up front with a friend or family member they suspect might be depressed or even suicidal.   

  Professor Afton Kapuscinski hopes the discussion goes beyond the renewed conversation sparked by the death of comedian and actor Robin Williams.  She understands why people might shy away from approaching those difficult topics.  But Kapucinski says it might be the difference between life and death for someone who needs support…

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