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

New York State Begins its $10.4 Billion Commitment to Combat Homelessness

Jun 9, 2016
Housing and Homeless Coalition of Syracuse and Onondaga County
https://twitter.com/hhcofcny

  What would it take to eliminate homelessness in Syracuse and across New York State? That’s the question Governor Cuomo hopes to answer with the launch of his Homelessness Action Plan. He pledged $10.4 billion during the State of the State address to fight homelessness over the next five years. Organizations in Syracuse will soon be submitting proposals for a share of those funds.

Christian Unkenholz / WAER News

The summer travel season is just around the corner and Syracuse TSA officials want airline travelers to be prepared.  Federal Security Director of Upstate New York Bart Johnson shares some tips for a faster screening process.

Scott Willis / WAER News

  A World War Two navy veteran in Syracuse who lost his son in Vietnam is closer than he’s ever been to getting his son’s name on the Vietnam memorial wall.  Senator Chuck Schumer has been doing his part, and paid a visit Monday to 91-year-old Larry Reilly at his home on Meadowbrook Drive. 

"Are you Larry?"  Schumer asked as he entered the house.

"Yes I am!"  Larry Reilly replied enthusiastically.

"It's an honor to meet you, an honor," Schumer said.

"Welcome to Syracuse," Reilly said.

Jason Chen / WAER News

  

Dozens of 5th and 6th graders from Syracuse City Schools took a break from the classroom Friday to practice their swing, run bases and also bump into the Major League Baseball Commissioner at Burnet Park.  Robert Manfred visited Syracuse today to celebrate the city's partnership with the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Program (RBI) to promote wider participation in baseball and softball programs.  RBI provides programmatic support from uniforms to coaches to training.    

John Smith/WAER News

The impact of gun violence in is seen and heard on a regular basis in Syracuse.  Parents Rita and John Fredette know this firsthand.  Their son Joshua was killed in 2005.

"A monster stole the breath away from my son," Rita Fredette said.   "No matter what we all do to stop  and impact violence, that cannot heal my heart.  

"How do you get well?  I don't know," John Fredette said.  "Every day is yesterday, July 2, 2005."

Scott Willis / WAER News

Heavy trucks and construction equipment didn’t stop a few dozen Syracuse university staff and faculty from holding a protest of the pedestrian promenade project that got underway Tuesday.  Renderings show the project will eliminate the roadway in favor of a more accessible plaza along University Place between S. Crouse Ave. and College Place, with seating, improved landscaping, and lighting.  Newhouse professor Tula Goenka  says it won’t help students.

Provided photo/Scott Willis / WAER News

Central New Yorkers know the meaning behind Memorial Day…honoring those who died in combat.  But most families probably haven’t experienced that devastation firsthand. twice.  Not like the Bolen family.  First Lieutenant Edward J. Bolen was a student at Columbia University when he joined the Army Air Corps in February 1943.  After training and being stationed in the U.S., he flew his first overseas mission in January 1944.  His niece and family historian Mary Ellen Bolen Coon says he piloted a P-47 Thunderbolt, which served as a bomber and gunner.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Much of the $50 million  transformation of the state fairgrounds is beginning to wrap up, and Governor Andrew Cuomo stopped by Wednesday to take a look.  The governor also announced the launch of an effort to look into privatizing fairgrounds operations.

Cuomo says for decades, the fairgrounds has been a metaphor for Upstate New York.  It just wasn’t getting the investment it deserved.  Now, that’s changing.

uanews.arizona.edu

Opponents of nuclear power are asking Central New Yorkers to register their opinions at hearings Wednesday as the state prepares to include nuclear energy as part of its “clean energy standard.”  Some are worried too many exceptions are being made for a struggling industry that should not be defined as “clean.”

Perry-Castaneda library / lib.utexas.edu

The Director of National Security Studies at Syracuse University says the full lifting of the arms embargo against Vietnam is long overdue.   WAER brings the unique perspective of a retired army colonel who served in South Vietnam.

Bill Smullen hopes the diplomatic overture is the first of many steps that could also lead to a stronger economic and defense relationship with the country.

"Having had two tours in Vietnam,  when I returned from my second tour, I never anticipated that any time soon we would have any kind of a relationship with Vietnam."

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