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

The budgets hammered out by school boards and superintendents in Central New York’s suburban school districts are being put to the voters today after a challenging process this year.  The state budget was a little late, and lawmakers still haven’t reimbursed districts for money owed under the foundation aid formula.  Executive director of the East Syracuse-based Statewide School Finance Consortium Dr. Rick Timbs says districts have had to scramble.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Congressmember John Katko’s previous career as a federal prosecutor appears to have worked its way into a piece of bi-partisan legislation aimed at protecting dog fighting victims.   The measure would also reduce the burden on shelters and taxpayers.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Congressmember John Katko is calling former FBI Director James Comey a man of exceptional integrity who did the best job he could under the circumstances.  Both men worked together when they were federal prosecutors.  

Katko says Comey had an impossible job…he was adored and loathed by both democrats and republicans…for different reasons.    But the congressman says the FBI as an agency is top notch…and will continue to investigate Russian meddling in the presidential election.

The presidents of the state’s private for-profit colleges were in Albany Tuesday pushing lawmakers to support legislation that would extend tuition assistance to their students.  The degree-granting colleges serve nearly 40,000 students statewide.

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

Voters get a chance to decide in the fall whether the state should have a constitutional convention . Both legislative leaders say, though, they are against it.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Leader John Flanagan, appeared together at a forum sponsored by the Albany Times Union’s Hearst Media Center.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse Common Councilors Monday made a series of revisions to the Miner administration’s budget proposal that affect the police and fire departments, as well as the land bank.  Councilors are shifting a total of $2 million from police and fire overtime budgets to their salary lines in order to cover the cost of hiring more officers.  Council majority leader Steve Thompson was on the force for more than three decades, retiring as chief.  He says the department is already down 41 officers from 2014 due to retirements…

Researchers at Syracuse University will soon be looking into whether contaminants from pharmaceuticals and personal care products are in Onondaga Lake and its downstream tributaries.  It's one of several new grant-funded projects looking into potential concerns in and around the Great Lakes.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Central New York veterans who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam have some powerful stories from their time in the military.  We’ve been hearing some of those stories this week after  the recent Honor Flight to Washington D.C. to visit to the memorials in their honor.  WAER's Scott Willis and Katie zilcosky tagged along.  In this final report in our series, they share some of the more moving stories they heard from veterans.

Here's who you'll meet:

Some of New York’s leaders are expressing outrage over the Republican House of Representatives vote to undo the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Governor Cuomo has warned for months that the proposed repeal of the ACA would blow a multi-billion dollar hole in the state budget, and potentially cost state and local governments and New York’s hospitals $4.5 billion.  Those who get their health care through the New York Exchange, set up under Obamacare, could lose $400 million in tax credits. And 1 million New Yorkers could lose their health care.

Scott Willis/WAER News

Central New York veterans well into their 80’s and 90’s seem to have no trouble recalling their service during World War Two, Korea, and Vietnam.  Dozens of them were on a final mission recently, the Syracuse Honor Flight to Washington to see the memorials and monuments in their honor that stirred those memories.