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

Governor Cuomo’s acting tax commissioner took heat from Democrats and Republicans in the legislature over delays in the STAR rebate program. The hearing was interrupted by protesters who want higher taxes on millionaires.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announced Monday her support for a campaign that aims to give Central New Yorkers driver's licenses regardless of immigration status.  About two dozen activists at the Worker’s Center of Central New York looked on as she signed a document urging the state to approve Green Light New York.  Miner says a license not only allows people to have access to community resources but also makes the roads safer.

Cirque de la Symphonie Returns to Syracuse to Perform with Symphoria

Feb 3, 2017
Scott Willis/WAER News

Fans of music, magic, and acrobatics will once again have a chance to see Cirque de la Symphonie’s performance at the OnCenter this weekend.  After attracting a sold out show last year, the traveling troupe returns to Syracuse for two shows that pair the music of Symphoria with Cirque-Di-Solei-style theatrics. Founding member of Symphoria, Jon Garland says the two art mediums pair nicely.

“It’s a really amazing thing to see and to work with too, because the two art forms together is a wonderful collaboration.”

Capital Correspondent Karen DeWitt recently caught up with Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan on how he’s getting along with the governor, whether he might like to challenge Andrew Cuomo,  how he feels about imposing additional taxes on the rich, and  Cuomo’s proposal to pass a constitutional amendment enshrining the U.S.  Supreme Court’s 1973 abortion decision Roe v Wade into the state’s constitution.  

Jacqueline King, center, was among nearly 300 demonstrators at the federal building Thursday.
Scott Willis / WAER News

Hundreds of Central New Yorkers braved the wind, cold, and snow by the federal building Thursday to call on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to lead the charge to resist President Trump’s cabinet appointments. The rally was part of a statewide day of action  to show support for Schumer.  Despite their efforts, democrats are in a losing battle so far to delay or altogether stop the confirmation process.   



Scott Willis / WAER News

A recent count of those living outdoors in Onondaga County jumped to 22 people this year.  That’s up from 8 in January 2016.  Housing and Homeless Coalition Coordinator Melissa Marrone attributes the increase to more volunteers and milder weather.  Last week, 40 volunteers searched the streets and other places not designed for human habitation, including cars or 24-hour locations.

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

Eight protesters were arrested outside Governor Cuomo's office Tuesday, as they demonstrated for more money for legal aid services for the state's poorest.

Protesters chanted “what do we want? Lawyers”, and blockaded an entrance to Governor Cuomo’s suite of offices at the Capitol.

After years of what critics say was underfunding legal aid for New York’s lowest income people, the Senate and Assembly passed a bill in 2016 to create a state funded system to ensure that indigent criminal defendants receive legal representation, as is their right under the U.S. Constitution. / Syracuse Peace Council

The president of the Islamic Society of Central New York says President Trump’s sudden immigration order is not the right way to keep the country safe.  Mohamed Khater says he was caught off guard by how quickly it took effect.

“I honestly did not think that it was going to happen because it probably would have to go through Congress, whether to approve it or disapprove it," said Khater.  "From my understanding from talking to everybody, Congress will not allow it to happen.”               / Sharon L. Ames, Esq.

The Trump Administration’s travel ban on refugees and others is creating confusion…and heartbreak for families in Central New York and across the nation.  The executive order will impact everyone from new refugees to those who’ve lived in the U.S. on visas for decades.

Long-time Syracuse immigration attorney Sharon Ames says the administration’s “drastic measure” will be felt here in Syracuse.  The resettlement of 220 refugees already approved to move to Syracuse has been halted.  Ames says she spoke with a man who knew of an affected Syrian family.

The peak of the flu season is upon us, and Central New Yorkers are still encouraged to get a flu shot if they haven’t already.  108 flu cases have been reported to the Onondaga County Health Department in the past week.  That compares to just one for the same week last year.   Kinney Drugs Pharmacy services manager Shannon Miller says the flu season this year is slightly out of the ordinary.

"We're seeing higher activity out of New York City and New York State in particular, in addition to about six other states that are seeing higher activity than normal," Miller said.