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

WAER

A leading expert in urban design and infrastructure planning will bring his experience to Syracuse on Wednesday, September 24th as the next speaker in the I-81 Speaker Series. Harvard Design critic, Peter Park, says there are many lessons to be learned from building highways through US cities, and it's a good starting point to understand what worked and what didn't.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Senator Charles Schumer stopped by the Ultra Dairy plant in East Syracuse Monday to promote an initiative he hopes will teach new skills needed to land advanced  manufacturing jobs in Central New York.   The State University of New York has applied for a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to support a career training program.  If approved, the funding would go to Onondaga Community College and nearly 30 other SUNY schools, in addition to local businesses like Byrne Dairy. Schumer says that jobs in mechatronics are more advanced than traditional manufacturing jobs because they require skills in engineering, mechanics and electronics.  He gives an example of how it might work:

Scott Willis / WAER News

Nearly two dozen people from Syracuse were among 41 people  indicted Thursday on charges of operating two drug pipelines that ran through the city.  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says a heroin ring stretched across four cities to Syracuse, and another ring used the U.S. Postal Service to ship cocaine from Puerto Rico.  

(c) Scott Willis, WAER

The two Saint Lawrence County residents already charged with kidnapping two Amish girls now face child sexual exploitation and child pornography charges.  Stephen Howells, 39, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, of Hermon were indicted today in Syracuse. 

Richard Hartunian, the US Attorney for the Northern District of New York, says Howells and Vaisey could each receive between 15 and 30 years in prison if convicted of any of the four charges they both face in the indictment. Howells could also receive up to 20 years in prison if he is found guilty of producing child pornography.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Spending will decrease, taxes rates will fall, and water and sewer rates will go up if Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s budget goes through as is.  She delivered her $1.24 billion spending plan Monday to lawmakers.    Mahoney says the property tax levy will drop by 1.2 percent, to a historic low.  

 The State University of New York - College of Environmental Science and Forestry inaugurated Dr. Quentin D. Wheeler as its fourth president on Friday.

Wheeler was most recently the dean for Arizona State's College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. He also served as a professor at Cornell University and as the Keeper of Entomology at the Natural History Museum in London. Wheeler holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from the Ohio State University. 

Institute for the Understanding of War / http://www.understandingwar.org

  A Syracuse University counter-terrorism expert says President Obama did not have many options when he presented his plan Wednesday night to “dismantle and ultimately destroy” ISIS.  Bill Smullen, Director of National Security Studies at the Maxwell School, says airstrikes are probably the only way the United States can have some impact without putting combat troops on the ground.

  ACR Health’s second annual Red Carpet Extravaganza will have song, dance and drag performances, while also educating the community about HIV and AIDS.  Intervention specialist Daniel Reed says statistics show which people are more likely to contract the disease. 

In 2010, young gay bisexual men accounted for 72 percent of the new HIV infections among all persons aged 13 to 24…even though they represent just two percent of the U.S. population.  Reed says the statistics should inspire the community to get involved in finding solutions. 

  Syracuse-area family members touched by suicide and those who’ve attempted suicide will gather Wednesday evening for a memorial to observe World Suicide Prevention Day.  Organizers say the event is intended to show that resources are available to help survive a crisis, and to offer hope to those at risk.  Program Coordinator for Volunteer Services at Contact Community Services Laurie Best says it’s a myth that talking about suicide will cause vulnerable people to act on it. 

Perhaps the most recent and high-profile suicide was comedian and actor Robin Williams.  Best says his death did more than just raise awareness about suicide and mental illness.

three men in a conference with microphones
Scott Willis / WAER News

The Syracuse community could soon provide more oversight of the Onondaga County Justice Center under a local law introduced Monday to county lawmakers.  

Legislature Chair Ryan McMahon presented a draft of the measure at a public safety committee meeting, framing it as a way to increase communication between local organizations, and also act as another check and balance to avoid making costly mistakes…

McMahon said Monday that the community has been advocating for a measure like this one for three decades, and that it’s time to “bring a sense of confidence to the community,” while addressing any additional concerns different parties and law enforcement may have along the way.  

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