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

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.”

Matt Ryan / NY Now

Things got heated on the New York State Senate floor this week over a debate on bills that majority party Republicans say will improve school safety. Meanwhile, the state Assembly Tuesday passed its own set of gun control bills.

New York already has some of the strictest gun control measures in the nation, known as the SAFE Act, but since the Florida shootings, lawmakers from both major parties say there’s more to do to prevent school shootings.

John Smith / WAER News

Talented Veterans from across Central New York received awards today in the Creative Arts local competition, and some could be advancing to the national level of the contest.  While the artists certainly take pride in their work, the creative process can be very therapeutic and healing.  Laurelle Kaley spent 20 years in the military before she retired in 2005.  She said the military gave her direction and support, and art filled that void when she left.

Central New York Healthcare provider Loretto has decided to re-brand itself in order to tell the community about the services it offers.  This comes amid health care reform in the federal government which might affect the company.

Loretto President and CEO Kim Townsend admits that the community might not be quite sure about the services her company provides.  After a year of surveying residents, employees, and the public, the company had a moment of self-discovery.

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

Advocates who want the Child Victims Act passed in  New York  are stepping up the pressure on Republicans in the State Senate. Some GOP Senators are the final hold outs against a bill that would extend the statute of limitations and open up a one year window for past victims to file civil lawsuits.

The measure would allow someone to take court action up until the victim is the age of 50. The current age limit is 23.

A case heard Monday in the U.S. Supreme Court and to be decided later on this year could have a big impact on public worker unions in New York.

The case, known as Janus v AFSCME, was brought by  Mark Janus, a public employee in Illinois, who is challenging his state’s policy of requiring that he pay union dues to the Illinois branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees,  even though he does not want to be a member.

Janus and his lawyers say the mandatory payments violate his First Amendment right to not be compelled to fund political speech.

The police chief in DeWitt says numerous entities are ready to jump in to action if there’s a report of someone who might become a threat at a school or in the community at large.  Meanwhile, the debate continues in Florida over what people knew about the shooter and what could have been done to stop him.