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 Common Councilors jumped aboard a larger national movement that would levy a carbon fee on fossil fuels and return that money to households. The Carbon Fee and Dividend climate change resolution, sponsored by councilor Joe Driscoll, would add a $15 fee to every ton of fossil fuel. He said that figure is based on the environmental costs of CO2 emitted by the fuel.

John Smith / WAER News

Some Central New York restaurant owners and employees are lining up against a plan to make tipped workers, such as waiters, into full minimum wage employees.  The New York State Restaurant Association is calling on local businesses to oppose Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal.  It would eliminate the “tip credit” that allows employers to pay a lower wage to workers who get tips.

Melissa Fleischut of the Restaurant Association says eliminating the credit would hurt workers and the industry.

provided photo

An undocumented Syracuse immigrant has been released on bail after a court hearing Tuesday in western New York. Organizers from the Workers’ Center of Central New York traveled to the federal detention center in Batavia to support Hector Navarro. He was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, at his Syracuse home on December 21st.  WAER News caught up with Nikeeta Slade from the Workers’ Center while she was in Batavia.  She says his bond demonstrates how important he is to the community.

The Libertarian candidate for governor is spending time this week in Upstate New York positioning himself as a viable third option in November’s election.  Larry Sharpe told WAER News in an interview he feels the time is right for many voters to get away from two-party thinking.

Sharpe is looking to flip the script on New York’s government from Left or Right, which he says just makes people angry.  And he says he’s fine this election with being the Anti-Cuomo.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Well over one hundred Syracuse residents turned out Thursday evening at Doctor Week’s School for a “Snow Safety Summit” aimed at finding a long-term solution to keeping sidewalks clear of snow. The Walsh Administration hopes to turn the feedback into legislation.

Tony Patane lives on the north side, and says it’s about time the city starts to hold landlords and others responsible. 

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

Some Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a measure that would make anonymous political ads on Facebook  and other social media illegal. They say the ads are being abused to falsely represent  their positions on issues.

Senator Todd Kaminsky, a Long Island Democrat, says there’s been a lot of publicity about Russian operatives using Facebook and other social media to influence the 2016 Presidential race. But he says it’s also happening in New York races as well, and needs to stop.

It’s undermining our democracy,” Kaminsky said.

John Smith / WAER News

It could soon be a crime in Onondaga County to leave a dog outside in rain, sleet, snow, or extreme heat or cold for any more than two hours.  County lawmakers are making changes to the proposed Adrian’s Law to protect man’s best friend.  Adrian was a pit bull that froze to death in December in Syracuse.  Legislator Chris Ryan revised language in the bill to make it simple to enforce … for any breed of dog.

Syracuse Cultural Workers is collaborating with the family of Frederick Douglass to mark the 200th birthday of the abolitionist with a new edition of his autobiography. The goal is to distribute one-million copies of the book to young people across the U.S. Cultural Workers Sales manager Andy Mager says Douglass’s legacy still resonates today, especially when it comes to immigrants in the U.S.

A new program announced Wednesday by The Diocese of Syracuse aims to provide financial compensation to victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. Funding for the program will be coming out of the diocese’s general liability insurance, not from charitable donations made by parishioners. Bishop Robert Cunningham says the adoption of the program in Syracuse follows the success of similar programs at other New York dioceses.

file photo / WAER News

On Thursday, Governor Cuomo will detail his proposals to help New Yorkers affected by changes to the federal tax law. But Republicans who rule the State Senate are cool to the ideas, including one that creates a payroll tax instead of a state income tax.

Cuomo’s budget director previewed the plans, on Monday which will be released as part of the 30 day amendments to the governor’s state budget proposal. Robert Mujica says if changes aren’t made to mitigate the cap on state and local taxes income and property deductions , then higher income New Yorkers will move out of state.