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

@bobinglis /

There’s a faction of conservatives reaching out in Central New York and across the country to engage fellow conservatives with a different angle on climate change.

Former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis is Executive Director of republicEn. 

 “We’re different than the Environmental Left. The Environmental Left ask, ‘Do you believe in climate change?’ We ask a very different question. We say, ‘Can free enterprise solve climate change?’ We think it starts a very different conversation that Conservatives can feel comfortable with.”

Scott Willis / WAER News

Attendees of the World Canals Conference starting Sunday in Syracuse will take a number of study tours of the Erie Canal system, including the Camillus Erie Canal Park.  The seven mile stretch of canal likely wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for a husband and wife who saw its potential.

WAER's Scott Willis met up with Liz Beebe at the restored aqueduct…the centerpiece of the park and a crowning achievement in 2009.

"Since our conception of this park 45 years ago, it was always one of our goals."

NYNOW screenshot

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is considering a possible challenge to Governor Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary for the 2018 governor’s race.  Miner says if she does run for governor, it won’t be a conventional campaign.

Gov. Cuomo Takes on National Issues

Sep 21, 2017
Melissa DeRosa / Gov. Cuomo's office

Governor Andrew Cuomo is again wading into national issues this week. He’s had a press conference against the latest attempt in the U.S. Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. And he met with the governors of California and Washington State to discuss steps to slow climate change.In both cases, the governor says he’s addressing the matters because the actions or, in the case of climate change, inactions, in Washington have a harmful impact on New York.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Local developers want to turn two of downtown Syracuse’s oldest…and most blighted buildings into apartments and a restaurant.  But developer Ryan Benz and his partners are having a hard time securing key federal historic tax credits.

“These buildings along with the block at-large were added to the national registry of historic places in 2009, opening up specific historic tax credits that allow redevelopment possible at all.  They have largely contributed to the revitalization of downtown over the last decade.”                                               

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse and the Erie Canal will be in the international spotlight starting Sunday when the World Canals Conference gets underway.  This year marks the bicentennial of the start of construction of  the canal, and WAER News is kicking off a series this week exploring three key locations along the canal route.  We start with the Erie Canal Museum downtown.

Initial tests show the dangerous blue-green algae blooms in Skaneateles Lake have not affected the city’s water supply.  Testing done by the city water department and health department officials this weekend shows the blooms do contain elevated levels of toxin, but have not turned up in tap water.  Still, it might make some residents a bit uneasy.  Professor of Biochemistry at SUNY ESF and Director of the Great Lakes Research Consortium Greg Boyer acknowledges the blooms are quite rare for this particular lake.

Scott Willis / WAER News

The republican candidate for Syracuse mayor is coming out swinging against her opponents now that the ballot is set for November.  She’s calling out the democrat and independent candidates for their former roles in the Miner administration.

Jillian Honn / Symphoria's facebook page

Symphoria’s fifth season begins Friday evening after a full summer of performances, including a second fourth of July concert a the Lakeview Amphitheater.  The orchestra remains convinced that diversity in programming and venues is critical to their success.

Taylor Epps / WAER News

Getting children to think about recess is easy, but getting them to start thinking about college may not be as simple. Onondaga Community College and the Syracuse City School District are working together to plant a seed in students’ minds early. Superintendent Jaime Alicea and O-C-C President Casey Crabill say the partnership will give kids more opportunities.

"One of our goals in the Syracuse City School District is to graduate our students to be college and career ready.  Exposing the students to college at an early age will provide them with opportunities."