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

Chris Bolt/WAER News

  It’s been a life of ups and downs, triumph and struggles for Jesse Saperstein.

“That’s the benefit of having a rough life.  You have a ton to write about so I was fortunately able to fill two books.”

Scott Willis / WAER News

Those who organize Syracuse’s annual wreath laying at Columbus Circle say it might be time to celebrate all immigrants on Columbus day, not just Italians.  Syracuse’s north side Italian American community raised the money to build the monument to Christopher Columbus in 1932, and an annual ceremony continued Monday for a 37th year.  But president of the Columbus Monument Association Michael Vavonese says maybe the holiday should embrace all groups…

Maybe one sign that the holiday and it's significance need re-thinking is the relatively low turnout at the ceremony.  Elected officials and media almost equaled the roughly 20 spectators who attended.  But Vavonese says when the monument was erected  82 years ago, the struggles of Italian immigrants were still fresh.

Domenick Brancato came to America from Sicily as a young boy in the late 1960’s.  He’s run restaurants and pizza shops in the community for 30 years.  

Members of the Josephine Federico youth chorus sang an Italian hymn as officials placed a wreath at the base of the monument on Columbus Circle.  

COUNTER-CELEBRATION

(c) Scott Willis, WAER.

An Onondaga County Grand Jury has indicted Glenn Collins on charges stemming from his alleged role in the death of his daughter. District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says an investigation has shown Glenn Collins had been using a generator in the basement to power his Salina home after National Grid terminated his services as a result of years of non-payment. On August 28th, the day before his daughter Gabriella died, Fitzpatrick says Collins and a female friend had gone to the Turning Stone Casino, leaving Gabriella and his 14-year old son, Jaden, at home. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

Republican candidate for state controller Bob Antonacci of Onondaga County says being the guinea pig for the state’s public campaign finance program is proving to be a lot tougher than he thought.    The certified public accountant and current county controller stopped by Salina Town Hall Tuesday to meet with seniors, hoping to drum up financial and electoral support.  Antonacci says taxpayer financed campaigns are still foreign to most, and derided by others.

sharon talking with mayor miner
John Sharon For State Assembly

Republican John Sharon is hoping the third time’s the charm in his bid to represent the 128th assembly district.  He’s trying to unseat incumbent Democrat Sam Roberts in a district that traditionally favors democrats.  Even though voters have elected Roberts twice, Sharon says it’s clear that Roberts isn’t known to many constituents…“As I campaigned then and now, I would do an informal poll and ask ‘Do you know who your Assemblyman is now?’ and the unofficial answer is nobody knows who it is. That tells me that there’s an opportunity. If I can get my message out there, get my name out there, I have a very good chance of winning.”

(c) Brad Spelich, WAER.

Syracuse’s successful program to remove lead from city homes will be shut down by year's end after being denied federal funding.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development did not approve the city's latest grant request. It is the first time they have denied such a request in almost 20 years.  Syracuse had received about $28 million in HUD grants, since 1995, to remove lead from more than 2,500 homes and apartments.  Mayor Stephanie Miner says the cut in funding means lead will not be removed from approximately 135 homes in Syracuse next year.

WAER

A leading expert in urban design and infrastructure planning will bring his experience to Syracuse on Wednesday, September 24th as the next speaker in the I-81 Speaker Series. Harvard Design critic, Peter Park, says there are many lessons to be learned from building highways through US cities, and it's a good starting point to understand what worked and what didn't.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Senator Charles Schumer stopped by the Ultra Dairy plant in East Syracuse Monday to promote an initiative he hopes will teach new skills needed to land advanced  manufacturing jobs in Central New York.   The State University of New York has applied for a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to support a career training program.  If approved, the funding would go to Onondaga Community College and nearly 30 other SUNY schools, in addition to local businesses like Byrne Dairy. Schumer says that jobs in mechatronics are more advanced than traditional manufacturing jobs because they require skills in engineering, mechanics and electronics.  He gives an example of how it might work:

Scott Willis / WAER News

Nearly two dozen people from Syracuse were among 41 people  indicted Thursday on charges of operating two drug pipelines that ran through the city.  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says a heroin ring stretched across four cities to Syracuse, and another ring used the U.S. Postal Service to ship cocaine from Puerto Rico.  

(c) Scott Willis, WAER

The two Saint Lawrence County residents already charged with kidnapping two Amish girls now face child sexual exploitation and child pornography charges.  Stephen Howells, 39, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, of Hermon were indicted today in Syracuse. 

Richard Hartunian, the US Attorney for the Northern District of New York, says Howells and Vaisey could each receive between 15 and 30 years in prison if convicted of any of the four charges they both face in the indictment. Howells could also receive up to 20 years in prison if he is found guilty of producing child pornography.

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