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

cayugacounty.us

Officials with the Army Corps Engineers say they’re working diligently to finalize the permit decision for the Owasco Flats restoration plan.  The project will help reduce algae blooms on Owasco Lake that threaten drinking water and recreation.  

The update comes after Senator Chuck Schumer paid a visit to Owasco Lake last week to push the project forward.   It’s been six years in the making, slowly going through a series of state and local approvals. 

Leo Tully / WAER News

A pair of Syracuse-area state lawmakers presented a report Friday that they say shows a community grid can’t be a stand-alone replacement for I-81 through the city.  The report by a former Chief Engineer of New York State Department of Transportation found the need to maintain traffic flow in and out of Syracuse.  State Senator John DeFrancisco and Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli say a hybrid solution might be best.

John Smith / WAER News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is optimistic that the ideas in her shared services proposal will save enough money to earn matching dollars from the state.   The roughly 100 ideas aim to streamline and reduce the cost of local government.  Mahoney released her plan last week, which is a combination of proposals from her office, and others from the consensus commission and municipalities. 

Got Mercury? Here's How to Dispose of it Properly

Aug 4, 2017
ocrra.org

Monday morning might be a good time to take advantage of the opportunity to safely dispose of old thermostats and prescription drugs sitting around the house.  The Onondaga Resource Recovery Agency is holding its Mercury and Medication Drop-off Event at the Rock Cut Road Transfer Station.  OCRRA spokesperson Kristen Lawton says the event is vital for getting old mercury thermostats and thermometers out of homes and disposed of properly.

twitter.com @nysboe

The state Board of Elections quietly voted this week to turn over some data on New York’s voters to a Trump Administration panel looking at whether there was mass voter fraud in the 2016 Presidential election. The move makes New York the first state to comply with the controversial request, after officials initially said they would resist the request.

Sam Kmack / NY NOW

The often reticent  New York Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie, showed a different side of himself when the lifelong Star Trek fan visited a museum in New York’s North Country that replicates the fictional Starship Enterprise. 

It’s a Trekkie’s dream- to sit in  Captain Kirk’s chair,  stand on a transporter pod, hold an actual communicator prop from the television show. New York’s Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie got to do all of that when he visited the Star Trek Set Tour museum in Ticonderoga, as part of a tour of New York’s North Country.

What are the prospects that Republican State Senator John DeFrancisco of Syracuse will challenge Governor Andrew Cuomo for Governor? 

DeFrancisco says he first wants to see if he can gain enough support from republican committee members and is traveling across the state to get the word out about his vision for the state.  He feels that it’s a critical time for him to decide whether or not to run.

"While population throughout the United States is growing, we had a net loss.  That means are voting with their feet.   They're expressing how they really feel by leaving the state.  That confirms what I've heard from  especially small business owners and people worried about their job, and seeing their kids not coming back to the state.” 

The Senator says that voters want to be confident about elected officials and thinks Cuomo has a credibility issue.

"If you talk to most New Yorkers who have any  involvement in politics, I would like to find out who, give me one person...have them call me, who trusts Andrew Cuomo to be truthful when he says something.  It's just not the case.” 

DeFrancisco feels that Cuomo likes to take credit for projects such as the recent expansion of the subway system on 7th Avenue in New York.  However, he alleges that the Governor distanced himself from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority when problems occurred.

“… but, then, you don’t a few months later say that it’s not you (Governor Cuomo) that’s running the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; it’s all (Mayor Bill) de Blasio’s fault, even though you appoint the Chairman to that group and you have a substantial influence over the majority of that group.  So, that’s the type of thing, I think, that people get tired… I know I do, of hearing things one day and then a totally opposite spin on something the next day because it achieves a political result.”

ongov.net/sharedservicesplan

Onondaga County residents will have a chance Thursday to offer their input on County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s shared government services plan.  The public hearing follows a series of meetings Mahoney held with local government and school district officials.

There are just shy of 100 ideas to streamline and reduce the cost of government, some from the county executive herself, and others from the consensus commission and municipalities. County Legislature Chair Ryan McMahon says t 

Scott Willis / WAER News

Senator Chuck Schumer stopped on the shores of Owasco Lake Monday to call on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do its part to allow a wetlands restoration project to go forward.  Officials say it would reduce sediment and nutrient run-off that’s causing algae blooms and affecting the drinking water supply for Auburn and a dozen other towns.

www9.nationalgridus.com

Central New  Yorkers have chance to weigh in Monday on a significant rate hike being proposed by National Grid.  If the utility’s plan is approved as is, typical gas and electric customers could be on the hook for an extra $18 a month.

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