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.

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PUBLIC SAFETY
11:27 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Lawmakers Pressure Cellphone Makers, Carriers to Install Kill Switch

NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at Syracuse City Hall Friday with Congressmember Dan Maffei and State Senator Dave Valesky.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

It’s probably happened to some of us – we’re focused on checking email or texting on the go that we might not be aware of our surroundings.  Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said smartphone robberies are becoming more of a problem because it can mean easy money. 

“People who are on their smartphones often are distracted,” he said, “you know, if they’re listening to music or something. People just knock them over, grab [the cell phone], and it’s too easy.”  

NY AG Schneiderman explains how thieves cash in on stolen smartphones.

A rise in smartphone robberies is why Schneiderman and the San Francisco District Attorney began the “Secure Our Smartphones Coalition.” Unlike other cities, Syracuse is lucky and has yet to report any fatality due to cell phone robberies. However, Frank Fowler, Syracuse Police Chief, said phone thefts have risen in the past year. According to Fowler, they account for more than 1/3 of all robberies.

Robberies of any type of property places people in harm’s way. When we can discourage this type of robbery, we can have an opportunity to decrease our robberies by 35%, and that’s a great number.”    The "kill switches" would make the phones less appealing to thieves.  But Schneiderman says  there's also little incentive for manufacturers and even the service providers, who are not cooperating. 

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HIGHER EDUCATION
5:46 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Syracuse University Students Play Key Role in New Chancellor's Inauguration Festivities

SU students Adrianna Kam (left) and Allie Curtis (right) are entering a project at the Chancellor's inauguration that aims to improve self-esteem and promote leadership opportunities for teenage girls.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

Massive tents on the quad, painters in the main entrance of Hendrick’s Chapel and a walk-through balloon bouquet were all indications Thursday that something of significance will be happening soon at Syracuse University. A full day of events will coincide Friday with the inauguration of a new chancellor.  As part of the celebrations, Kent Syverud wanted to involve students by encouraging them to submit ideas for projects they would like to launch to improve the campus and local community.  Allie Curtis is one of the contestants.

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City Budget
5:00 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Miner's Proposed Budget Poses Concerns for Key Council Member

Chair of Syracuse Common Council's Finance Committee, Kathleen Joy.
Credit syrgov.net

The Chair of the Syracuse Common Council's Finance Committee is concerned the Mayor may be relying too much on the city's reserves in her budget proposal. Councilor Kathleen Joy and her colleagues began budget hearings Wednesday to go over the $660 million spending plan line by line.  Joy says using 20 million dollars in rainy day funds doesn't seem to address past warnings from the Mayor herself.

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CITY BUDGET
11:25 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Miner's Budget Proposal Would Add Police Officers, Firefighters

Mayor Miner flanked by Police Chief Frank Fowler, left, and Fire Chief Paul Linnertz, right. Behind them are members of the common council.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner releases her budget proposal Tuesday, and it includes five million dollars to hire more police officers and firefighters.  As many as 25 new police officers and 25 firefighters could be on the streets starting next year.   Miner says it's about balancing retirements and new positions with overtime costs.    Miner says the city can’t hide behind its money troubles and do nothing.   Common Council majority leader Helen Hudson says unless the state or federal governments provide more resources, that’s all they can hire for right now.  

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PUBLIC HEALTH
11:30 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Onondaga County Health Commissioner to Resign

County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow addresses the media Thursday.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow says she’s never been more passionate about public health…which could be why she’s decided to resign. 

 She told the media Thursday she strongly disagrees with plans to move the division of child and maternal health from her department to the new department of child and family services. 

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