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

From Earl Colvin's Facebook Page

  A pioneer of gay rights in Central New York in the 1970’s is being remembered for his persistence at a time when the LGBT community was virtually ostracized, or at least ignored.  Earl Colvin died May 24th at age 82, and will be honored with a ceremony Wednesday evening at city hall. 

Long-time activist Bonnie Strunk worked with Colvin on many early gay pride events.  She recalls when one media outlet learned of one gathering, and young kids began throwing stones.

Long-time Syracuse New Times reporter Walt Shepperd recalls Colvin as someone who had a way of putting people at ease during a time when the larger community was very clearly divided about gay rights .  Bonne Strunk says Colvin was never shy about sharing his opinion, and forging ahead.

Chris Bolt/WAER News

  Central New York Congressmember John Katko is optimistic that the Senate will ultimately approve legislation that restores surveillance authority of domestic phone records.  The provision of the USA Patriot Act expired Monday after Senator Rand Paul blocked an extension.  Katko says the USA Freedom Act already approved by the house is basically a renewal, but includes safeguards to prevent abuses of the data collected. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

About 100 law enforcement officials from a dozen different agencies wore the same uniform Thursday as they ran or walked from Camillus to the eastern end of Syracuse.  The 13-mile Torch Run raised $10,000  for New York’s Special Olympics athletes.

State Police Troop D spokesperson Jack Keller says it’s a fun event for a good cause.

New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services / New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services

  Syracuse and Onondaga County will share nearly $1.2 million in grant money on what experts say are programs proven to reduce gun violence and homicides. It’s the fourth highest award in the state among the 17 counties reporting 87 percent of the violent crime outside of New York City.  Mike Green heads the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, which administers the grants.  He says jurisdictions have wide leeway in how they use the funding, with the caveat that any spending on additional officers or overtime goes to support specific, evidence-based strategies.

Unlike 2011, Onondaga County voters will actually have someone other than Joanie Mahoney to choose from for county executive on the ballot this November.  The county democratic committee Thursday evening designated two-time sheriff candidate Toby Shelley to challenge two-term incumbent Republican Mahoney.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Of all the conflicts facing soldiers overseas, the Secretary of the Army says the budget is perhaps their biggest threat.  John McHugh stopped by Syracuse University Thursday to learn more about its innovative veteran and military-connected programs.  He says how the military responds to emerging issues such as ISIS’s growing control of Iraq, Russia’s activity in Eastern Europe, and others is dictated and affected by funding. 

   McHugh says the army can barely meet its current missions with 450,000 troops.

Rob Romano/WAER News

  The Green Party is prepared to run three candidates in this November’s elections for various local offices. Local Businessman Frank Cetera  will try to win the 2nd district seat on the Common Council.

Scott Willis / WAER News

A new name and face entered Onondaga County Politics Tuesday.

  The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has weighed in on the fracking question and is raising concerns about the adverse environmental impact of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State. While the DEC statement doesn’t explicitly state that fracking cannot be done safely, they do agree with the Health Department’s recommendation issued in December against fracking due to the uncertain risks to public health and the environment.

The impact statement released Wednesday has been in the works for over 5 years. The DEC was tasked to determine whether or not fracking could be done safely in New York State. The study incorporated community input and various academic research across the country and state, including scientific studies from Pennsylvania, where fracking is permitted and shares apart of the Marcellus shale region with New York State.

Many New York State Anti-Fracking Organizations are celebrating in support of the DEC’s findings. Water and Natural Resource Associate Liz Moran states, 

USGS / John Smith, WAER News

The weather might finally be warming up in Central New York, but a new exhibit illustrates the damaging effect climate change is having on the world’s coldest features.  “Losing a Legacy” is the name of a photography project on display at the Museum of Science and Technology revealing the dramatic decline of glaciers over the past century, especially at Glacier National Park. Exhibits project manager at the MOST Peter Plumley says the photos from the U.S. Geological Survey portend a grim future.