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

Senator Schumer Says "No" to Putting Say Yes Students at Risk

1 hour ago
Scott Willis / WAER News

Scholarship dollars for hundreds of Say Yes students in Syracuse and elsewhere appear to be getting held up in a new federal department of education policy that could cause some students to drop out of college. Senator Chuck Schumer is demanding the Secretary of Education reverse the policy.

Schumer said the problem is that Say Yes and similar scholarship programs are unable to access students’ financial data in order to process payments in a timely manner.  He said this throws up unnecessary roadblocks that can result in late fees for students or worse.

Scott Willis / WAER News

The state of New York is partnering with communication companies as part of a continuing effort to push broadband into more isolated areas.  Without broadband, people in these areas rely on dial-up internet, which means lower transfer speeds and available bandwidth.

Scott Willis / WAER News

We’ve heard of March Madness in college basketball.  But Friday could be called Match Madness for nearly 150 Upstate Medical University students who opened envelopes containing their residency assignments.  That’s where they will spend their first year of training as doctors.

Students, parents, and teachers in Central New York might be wondering what comes next after Wednesday’s school walk-outs marking the one month anniversary of the Parkland, Florida massacre.  There's a county-wide effort to find ways to keep students safe.

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick has created a subcommittee as part of the already existing School Safety Task Force to create some guidelines for teacher and student training.  He’s tapped West Genesee Superintendent Chris Brown to lead the effort. 

John Smith / WAER News

About 300 Nottingham High School Students in Syracuse joined Wednesday with other students nationwide to walk-out of their classrooms and join together to demand for tighter gun control policies.  They also let students and parents in Parkland, Florida know they’re thinking of them by taking a roll-call of sorts by reading their names, ages, and a brief description. 

"Never again!" the students chanted after each name.

Cornell Cooperative Extension /

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says she has an idea that could help dairy farmers struggling with historically low milk prices.  Last week, we brought you the story of a fourth generation Skaneateles dairy farmer who’s considering shutting down.  The senator’s legislation would create a new price floor for milk.

Scott Willis / WAER News

A normally routine item on the Syracuse Common Council’s agenda has revealed some cracks in the city’s requirement that contractors hire a certain percentage of minorities and women for their projects.  The annual street maintenance project called the unimproved street slurry seal program seems to be falling short of preferred goals.  The city typically shells out about a million dollars a year for a company to do the work on select side streets.  Assistant corporation counsel Joe Barry says it’s put out to competitive bid, and the contract goes to what’s termed the lowest responsible bidde

Cornell Cooperative Extension /

Some Central New York dairy farmers are facing such difficult times that they’re considering leaving the business altogether.  A combination of persistently low prices of milk and rising labor costs are forcing long-time farmers to make some tough decisions.

For Mark Tucker, dairy farming is all he’s known.  He’s been working his family’s fourth generation farm in Skaneateles full time for over 40 years. 

Novelis, Inc.

The New York economy is bracing itself for the impact of a new tariff being rolled out by the federal government.  President Trump is has enacted] a 25 percent tax on foreign steel and a 10 percent tax on aluminum.  Tariffs are usually meant to bolster domestic industries and products, but Whitman School of Management International business studies Professor Peter Koveos says this ignores how much industry has changed.

NY State DEC

Central New Yorkers have been dealing with occasional harmful algal blooms for years, including Owasco and Cayuga lakes. But it wasn’t until late last summer when the green organic matter showed up much closer to home.

 “The third one is the lake that perhaps among all lakes in New York State was the last one we expected to see a harmful algal bloom on, Skaneateles Lake.”