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

After months of consideration, Syracuse-area state senator John DeFrancisco made it official Tuesday evening in a crowded room of more than 100 supporters at a hotel in Salina.

"There's just too much at stake to sit on the sidelines.  New Yorkers need a leader that they can trust.  That's why, with your support, I humbly announce my candidacy for governor of The State of New York," DeFrancisco said to cheers and applause.

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

The head of Governor Cuomo’s economic development programs says he doesn’t think federal corruption trials now taking place will have any effect on the projects.

Governor Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, is on trial in federal district court in Manhattan, charged with engineering two bribery schemes. One of the companies accused of participating in the crimes received funding through the state’s economic development programs. The two top leaders of COR development are co defendants in the trial.

Scott Willis / WAER News

A crowd of about 100 Central New Yorkers marched along Syracuse City streets Monday to oppose Trump administration immigration policies.  Demonstrators chose this specific day to send a direct message, chanting "immigrants are welcome here." 

Scott Willis / WAER News

Some Community Health Centers in Syracuse and across the state could be forced to close if Congress doesn’t approve federal funding in the next round of budget talks.  Senator Chuck Schumer stopped by the Syracuse Community Health Center Monday to pledge he’ll do all he can as Minority Leader to push through long-term funding by the February 8th deadline.  Schumer and SCHC President and CEO Leola Rodgers explain $3.8 million and 75 employees are on the line.

For many of us, getting in the car and going to work is something we take for granted.  But for others struggling to get by, that trip to work can be a barrier between a decent paying job that could lift them out of poverty.    WAER’s Scott Willis takes a look at one solution that seems to be working for a handful of residents.

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Sunny Balkin / WAER News

Six finalist companies participating in the GENIUS NY program in Syracuse are receiving their share of more than $3 million dollars in investments from Empire State Development Corporation.  They’re creating new innovations at the Tech Garden to advance UAS or Unmanned Aerial Systems that supports the many applications of drones. 

Some of the innovations range from helping grow agriculture to solutions for urban planning.  Co-founders of Dropcopter Adam Fine and Mike Wench created their company to pick-up where declining bee populations left-off.

Scott Willis / WAER News

It’s not unusual for firefighters to visit Central New York schools to teach children about fire safety.  But Wednesday’s visit by Syracuse Firefighters at Doctor King Elementary school took on added importance.  Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention Elton Davis had the undivided attention of about two dozen second graders. 

"What we came here to talk about today is a serious subject.  But we want you to be excited about it.  Learning is exciting, right? We want to give you the same type of lesson today in fire safety."

John Smith / WAER News

A local agency is changing how much of the overdose-reversal drug Narcan it distributes. The State is now offering a Nacan Co-Payment Program that aims to get more kits into the hands of families, friends and opioid drug users.  ACR Health distributed 750 kits from the state last year, which the agency says resulted in saving at least 52 people.  Overdose Prevention Coordinator Kevin Donovan says most pharmacy chains participate in the state’s program.

Scott Willis / WAER News

In somewhat of a surprise move, Syracuse Common Councilors Monday unanimously appointed a candidate whose name had not been publicly mentioned to fill President Helen Hudson’s former at-large seat.   Democrat Michael Greene’s resume rose to the top of the stack.

New 5th district councilor Joe Driscoll made the motion to appoint Greene after discussions revealed he’d have strong support.

file photo / WAER News

The first of a series of federal corruption trials begins Monday for several former associates of Governor Cuomo. The proceedings in the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan will focus on bribery and other charges against Governor Cuomo’s former closest aide, Joseph Percoco.