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

A traveling photo exhibit at Onondaga Community College aims to show the Vietnam War through the uncensored and intimate lens of military photographers.  We caught up with Vietnam Veteran Marion Ervin, who served as chief executive officer of the Army’s 185th Maintenance Battalion  from 1971 to 1972.  He says he was one of many who served in Vietnam in a non-combat role.      


Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is getting behind a program she says could prevent families from becoming homeless.  A state proposal called The Home Stability Support program would provide a new rent supplement for those who are eligible for public assistance.  Miner says the program could expand upon the efforts of the city and county to keep families out of shelters and off the streets.

Marlee Tuskes / WAER News

The career and work of one of Syracuse’s most celebrated artists will be getting extra attention as part of the PBS series A Craftsman’s Legacy.  David MacDonald taught at Syracuse University for 40 years as part of the artist’s legacy that goes back more than 50…when he got his start in art school.

"I started out making ugly little pots like every introductory student does," MacDonald recalled.

But the medium quickly appealed to him.

Scott Willis / WAER News

A lengthy, national search for a new executive director for the Salvation Army turned up a candidate right here in Onondaga County who worked for the organization eight years ago.  Linda Lopez was introduced to the community Tuesday, and brings more than 30 years of experience in the human services field.

Syracuse Common Councilors Monday decided to stick with the company that helps the city with parking enforcement, ticketing, and immobilizing vehicles for another three years.  The agreement with Paylock didn’t come without questions about whether the city’s getting its money’s worth.

The numbers would seem to indicate the city is having success in issuing parking tickets.  but the trouble is getting violators to pay up.  Councilor Nader Maroun says there are about 80,000 outstanding tickets worth about $6 million.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Officials cut the ribbon Friday on a project aimed at bringing affordable housing to distinct neighborhoods on both ends of Salina Street.  The nearly $15 million, 49 unit Salina Crossing project is unique in that it encompasses ten scattered site properties.  The northside anchor is a 20-unit building that occupies the site of the old Otisca building.  Housing Visions Vice President Ben Lockwood says they and their partners took a big risk to tear it down before they even had a plan.

Siena College Research Institute

A study of cyber bullying in Central New York finds nearly one third of teens report being bullied online.  That’s a bit higher than the 26 percent of teens surveyed across Upstate New York.  Siena College Research Institute President Dr. Don Levy says the numbers are probably understated.

37 People Become U.S. Citizens At Syracuse Naturalization Ceremony

Nov 17, 2016
Scott Willis / WAER News

Thirty seven people from 23 different countries completed the final step to become United States citizens Thursday at Onondaga Community College.  They recited the Oath of Allegiance as delivered by Judge Michael Hanuszczak. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

As many as 1,000 Syracuse University and SUNY ESF students and faculty gathered for a rally and march around campus Wednesday out of concern for what might happen under a President Donald Trump.  They wanted to stand in solidarity to preserve dignity and respect for all people.

The call to action was part of a nationwide walkout from college and university classes to speak out about the fears they have.  SU junior Breanna Cooper says many people don’t feel safe.

Scott Willis / WAER News

About three dozen self-described Water Protectors came to Syracuse’s Clinton Square Tuesday as part of a national day of action calling on the federal government to reject The Dakota Access Pipeline.  The group stood outside of the Bank of America to protest the loan issued to build the pipeline.  Many people came to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux, the native population that has been negatively affected by the pipeline’s construction. Water Protector Margaret Birdlebough of Syracuse was among the crowd.