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 file

One of the long-time members of the Syracuse Common Council who’s leaving this year has seen a lot of change in the city.  Van Robinson ends 18 years of service as president and a councilor.  His tenure in the city has an interesting spanning-of-generations since he came to Syracuse.

“The mayor was Bill Walsh.  And as I leave my political life, it’s ironic but the mayor-elect is his grandson Ben Walsh.  I wish the incoming administration all the luck in the world.  There’s a new city that has to be built.”

WAER file

One of the faces that will be leaving the Syracuse Common Council as the year ends has been in City Hall over decades.  Joe Nicoletti did not run for his council seat, instead making an unsuccessful bid for mayor.  Over two council stints and other positions in city hall, he spanned five different mayors.  And Nicoletti says he’ll miss most the unsung city employees.

WAER file

As the year ends, so do the Common Council terms of several well-known faces.  Councilor-at-Large Jean Kessner ends an eight-year run.  She hopes she’s remembered more for helping people than for any specific bills or laws she helped pass.

“When you go to ban-the-box or section-8 housing (measures), or any of the other things that we’ve passed, is that we just want to give people opportunity.  We don’t have money to hand out, but we can provide a level playing field.  That’s really, really important to me.” 

landmarktheatre.org

Syracuse’s historic Landmark Theatre didn’t have to go far to hire its new executive director.  The board of trustees promoted general manager Mike Intaglietta after nearly three years without someone in the top post.   He's largely been running the theater for the past two years, and they’re coming off one of the busiest seasons in years.

"Things are going really well.  2017 was a standout year.  We had over 143,000 guests walk through our doors."

Scott Willis / WAER News

Governor Cuomo is proposing early voting in New York as part of his State of the State message, due out January 3rd.  But a top aide to the governor says it might be awhile before the proposals could become law and take effect.

The proposal would require each county to set up at least one early voting poll site during the 12 days leading up to Election Day. The sites would be open for five hours a day on the two weekends leading up to elections, as well as eight hours a day on week days.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Twenty-nine years ago, Central New Yorkers were struggling to come to grips with the news that Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie Scotland, killing 35 Syracuse University students.  SU continued a tradition Thursday of holding an annual remembrance service and ceremony at 2:03 p.m., the time the plane and all 270 people on board were lost.

"On that day, it seemed the future was stolen.  Here at Syracuse University, we lost a generation.  Thirty-five young lives taken.  Taken before their potential and possibility could be realized."

Governor Cuomo's flickr page

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who’s vowed to lead a campaign against the state’s Republican Congressional representatives in the 2018 elections, has spent the final weeks of 2017 feuding with them over their votes on the federal tax overhaul bill.

Cuomo has been saying for weeks that the overhaul would be “devastating” to New York’s finances, and to many of its taxpayers, and he’s called Republican house members who support the plan “traitors” and “Benedict Arnolds”.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse-area congressmember John Katko says he’s very happy with the 10-year, $1.5 trillion dollar tax reform bill approved by Congress, especially with what he was able to persuade leadership to restore. 

"For example, the private activity bonds, which are key to hospitals and others; the historic preservation tax credit; and of course, all the things they were trying to do to tax students, which was crazy to me."

twitter.com/syracusezoo

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is starting the process of designing a $7 million animal hospital to replace its aging and undersized clinic and quarantine space.  Zoo director Ted Fox says it’s one of the first priorities in their master strategic plan to meet the needs of their growing collection, and to maintain accreditation.

file photo / WAER News

Former Green Party common council candidate Frank Cetera continues to pressure sitting council members for a more public process to consider candidates to fill an at-large seat in January.  But it appears councilors aren’t willing to change their appointment practice this time around.

The seat will open up once Helen Hudson takes the oath as the council’s new President.  City charter grants sitting councilors at the time of the vacancy the authority to make the appointment.  But Cetera feels there’s room for more public input..without changing the charter..yet.

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