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

Central New York bargain hunters were out and about Friday trying to land those limited black Friday specials.  But Syracuse University professor of retail practice Amanda Nicholson says there’s no reason to rush for most items.

gasbuddy.com

Central New Yorkers heading out on the road this Thanksgiving Holiday are being greeted by gas prices a full 50 cents–a-gallon less than a year ago.  Gas-Buddy-dot-com Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski says in some respects, the drop  in prices isn't all that uncommon for this time of year.

Scott Willis / WAER news

More than 50 people of many backgrounds gathered in front of the federal building in Syracuse today to express their disappointment that no criminal charges will be brought against a Ferguson Missouri police officer.  Darren Wilson is accused of shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown.  While most at the rally didn’t condone the violence that followed the grand jury’s decision, some like David Dunbar of Syracuse understand where the anger comes from.

a snow-covered sidewalk with footprints marking how many people have struggled to walk along the path
Scott Willis / WAER News

Another attempt to fine Syracuse property owners who don’t clear the snow from their sidewalks has failed in the Common Council.  The vote was 7 to 2 against beefing up a snow removal ordinance to include a warning, followed by a $50 fine for those who don’t comply.  

The measure would have applied only to primary routes and those near schools, and might have included some discretion for the elderly or those with disabilities.  Councilor Bob Dougherty understands the concern, and had hoped to work with community and school groups to arrange volunteers to help:

Scott willis / WAER News

A Syracuse-based immigration attorney says President Obama’s executive order to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation is a good first step…but could have gone farther. Jose Perez says even though the action is based on family unity, it doesn’t help everyone.  

Under the president’s executive order, undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and have children born in the U.S. would get a reprieve from deportation and be eligible to apply for work permits.  Perez says he’s already getting calls from clients asking if they qualify.  

Immigrant farmworkers are among those who say they appreciate the president's efforts, but the executive order won't help many of them.  

Naturally, republicans in congress are furious, and say the president’s action all but kills any future chances for comprehensive immigration reform.  Immigration attorney Jose Perez wonders wants to ask them why.

(c) Scott Willis, WAER

The Great American Smoke Out, which urged smokers Thursday to kick the habit, coincides with the recently released expansion of Syracuse University’s “Smoke-Free” Policy. Starting next July, use of tobacco products and vaporizers will be prohibited outdoors on campus. Temporary exceptions will be made, however, for the Carrier Dome, Sheraton Hotel, Syracuse Stage, and Drumlins.

students sit working on laptops
syr.edu

With the year coming to a close, college application deadlines are nearing and Central New York’s high school seniors are starting to apply. The New York State Higher Education Services Program is promoting College Application Week.

Assistant Director for Grants and Scholarship Programs Jennifer Dwire says the focus of the program is helping students who may be the first in their family to go beyond a high school diploma:

www.ganondagan.org / Ganondagan

Leaders and citizens of the Onondaga Nation were among members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in Canandaigua Tuesday to commemorate the 220th anniversary of the signing of the Canandaigua Treaty. The pact, signed in 1794, brought peace between the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora nations and the United States. It also recognized the sovereignty of the six nations to govern and set their own laws. But Onondaga Nation Counsel Joe Heath says over the centuries, it’s been ignored by state and federal governments with the taking of nation lands and other injustices.

Scott Willis / WAER News

It’s Veteran’s Day, and Senator Chuck Schumer is pushing a bill that would support military veterans with expanded mental health services in an effort to stem the growing suicide rate.  At a stop in Syracuse Monday, Schumer said 1,500 veterans in New York State have committed suicide in the past 10 years.  He says the measure is geared toward “state side” veterans…those who are not deployed and not eligible for some psychological support benefits.

Schumer also says the trauma suffered by veteran who are not deployed should not be underestimated.

A New Face Soon to Become Onondaga County's New Sheriff

Oct 28, 2014
conwayforsheriff.com

The Onondaga County Sheriff position is up for grabs for the first time since 1994. Longtime Sheriff Kevin Walsh is stepping down after twenty years. DeWitt Police Chief and Republican candidate Gene Conway will run against Democrat and veteran of the Onondaga Sheriff's office Toby Shelley. The department has recently dealt with a number of issues including over-time costs and allegations of officers filling out false time sheets. First-time candidate Conway is not happy with the negative image the local police and Sheriff's office has developed over the past few years.

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