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

The Marriott Syracuse Downtown has been open a little over a year, and it’s already earned one of the most meaningful awards in the industry.  It was recently recognized as the Best City Center Historic Hotel in the nation by historic Hotels of America.

“When we were putting this old girl back together there was never a thought that this would be an award or an honor that this hotel would have any time soon, so it really is a great surprise.”

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

People who say the terminally ill should have a legal option to end their lives with medical aid presented petitions to Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday, asking that he and the legislature make that change.

About 7,500 attendees at the New York State Fair signed the petition, which asks that “a mentally capable, terminally ill adult with a prognosis of six months or less” to live be permitted the option to obtain medication to end their lives if “their suffering becomes unbearable.”

Scott Willis / WAER News

About 30 fourth and fifth graders at Syracuse’s Seymour Dual-Language Academy got a hands-on lesson outside Thursday through a project that includes some long-time partners.  WAER News stopped by to get a look at the school’s rain garden.         

The garden sits just outside the playground off Shonnard Street, and Vice Principal Steve Polera says sprucing it up has become a tradition for fifth graders who want to leave a legacy.

La Liga in Syracuse Holding Relief Drive to Support Puerto Rico Post-Maria

Oct 4, 2017

It’s been more than two weeks since hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, and Syracuse-area Hispanic residents say family and friends on the island are struggling to recover.  The Spanish Action League, or La Liga, is supporting Puerto Ricans here as they cope with the impact. Executive director Elisa Morales says social media is helping to play a role in connecting people with information about whether or not their loved ones and home villages are ok.

Scott Willis / WAER News

The bells at more than two dozen Episcopal churches rang out across Central New York at noon Tuesday in a show of solidarity with the people of Las Vegas.  Church leaders hope it can mark the start of a healing process.

The bells tolled at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fayetteville just as they did across Nevada  at 9 a.m. their time.  The Rt. Rev. Dr. Dede Duncan Probe is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Onondaga County lawmakers moved a little closer Friday to approving next year’s county budget.  The Ways and Means committee approved a number of mostly minor changes to the county executive’s $1.3 billion  spending plan.

"She brought over a good, solid budget.  There were absolutely no hatchets or chainsaws; it was literally a scalpel to trim a little here and there to address some of our priorities."

Gov. Cuomo's flickr page

New York’s Democratic lawmakers are vowing to fight  President Trump’s  tax overhaul proposal, perhaps even in court.  Meanwhile, a think tank’s analysis finds some middle class New Yorkers could actually save a small amount of money under the income tax portion of the plan.  

Governor Cuomo said the tax overhaul plan and  the proposal to eliminate state and local tax deductions from federal income taxes would  be “devastating” to New York.

It is a tax increase plan,” Cuomo said on Long Island Thursday. “Period”.

Cuomo said he might sue.

Mark DeCracker /

The World Canals Conference wrapped up in Syracuse Thursday with a look toward the future.  People came from all over the world with an interest in canals, but SUNY ESF student Meghan Medwid says here in Central New York, it’s not always on the top of people’s minds.

"Sometimes the Erie Canal is sort of an afterthought or it's not used as much as it could be.  We can try to do something more with what we have, as well."

Madison County Planner Sarah Krisch says residents might take it for granted.  

Gov. Cuomo's flickr page

The drone testing program out of Griffiss airport in Rome has an important new partner.  NASA has agreed to gather information on testing and submit it to the FAA to help shape new regulations.  Governor Andrew Cuomo paid a visit Thursday to announce the "groundbreaking" agreement.  He says it's one of many key elements to launching the first-in-the-nation 50-mile Unmanned Traffic Management Corridor between Rome and Syracuse.

The four candidates for Syracuse mayor acknowledge the city's future hinges on the city school district on many levels, from reducing poverty to attracting families. But they each have different perceptions on how schools are performing. Republican Laura Lavine is calling for mayoral control of the district. The career educator and administrator says it's what voters ask about the most.