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 Mayor Stephanie Miner today defended her sharp criticism of the recommendations of the Consensus commission’s final report.  Miner says she disapproves of the suggested merging of the city and county into a single metropolitan government…without giving consideration to a dependent school district.

The Syracuse City School District’s four-year graduation rate took a big jump last year.  Numbers released Friday by the state education department show nearly 61 percent of students graduated last year…a 6.4 four percent increase over 2015.  That compares to a more modest 1.3 percent increase statewide to 79.4 percent.  Interim Superintendent Jaime Alicea says the district’s strategy to cater to the needs of individual students has been working.

Nearly three years after it started, the Consensus Commission released its final report Thursday with dozens of recommendations on how to modernize local government.  They include everything from infrastructure and public safety to economic development and municipal operations.  

The 19-member volunteer commission collected reams of data, held more than 100 meetings, and gathered comments from thousands of residents to arrive at the 110 page report.  Co-chair Neil Murphy says it’s a chance to embark in a new direction.

On Saturday, using only seven digits  to make a phone call in Central New York will become a thing of the past.  When the region gets a new area code next month, using ten digits just won’t have the same “ring” in popular music.

One of the agencies that helps re-settle refugees in Syracuse finds itself caught in limbo as the recent executive order temporarily halting the arrival of refugees is challenged in court.  A temporary injunction has allowed some refugees to complete their travel plans to Syracuse and elsewhere in the U.S., while others are left wondering if they will be able to travel and when.  President and Chief Executive Officer of Interfaith Works Beth Broadway expects some families to be able to travel during the injunction.

Governor Cuomo’s acting tax commissioner took heat from Democrats and Republicans in the legislature over delays in the STAR rebate program. The hearing was interrupted by protesters who want higher taxes on millionaires.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announced Monday her support for a campaign that aims to give Central New Yorkers driver's licenses regardless of immigration status.  About two dozen activists at the Worker’s Center of Central New York looked on as she signed a document urging the state to approve Green Light New York.  Miner says a license not only allows people to have access to community resources but also makes the roads safer.

Cirque de la Symphonie Returns to Syracuse to Perform with Symphoria

Feb 3, 2017
Scott Willis/WAER News

Fans of music, magic, and acrobatics will once again have a chance to see Cirque de la Symphonie’s performance at the OnCenter this weekend.  After attracting a sold out show last year, the traveling troupe returns to Syracuse for two shows that pair the music of Symphoria with Cirque-Di-Solei-style theatrics. Founding member of Symphoria, Jon Garland says the two art mediums pair nicely.

“It’s a really amazing thing to see and to work with too, because the two art forms together is a wonderful collaboration.”

Capital Correspondent Karen DeWitt recently caught up with Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan on how he’s getting along with the governor, whether he might like to challenge Andrew Cuomo,  how he feels about imposing additional taxes on the rich, and  Cuomo’s proposal to pass a constitutional amendment enshrining the U.S.  Supreme Court’s 1973 abortion decision Roe v Wade into the state’s constitution.  

Jacqueline King, center, was among nearly 300 demonstrators at the federal building Thursday.
Scott Willis / WAER News

Hundreds of Central New Yorkers braved the wind, cold, and snow by the federal building Thursday to call on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to lead the charge to resist President Trump’s cabinet appointments. The rally was part of a statewide day of action  to show support for Schumer.  Despite their efforts, democrats are in a losing battle so far to delay or altogether stop the confirmation process.