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

Second Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens in Syracuse

Feb 2, 2016
Scott Willis / WAER News

  Syracuse’s second medical marijuana dispensary is ready to open on Wednesday.  Etain Health has set up shop on Erie Boulevard East, and will grant eligible patients access to oil-based cannabis products such as a topical oil, a spray, capsules, and a liquid for use in a vaporizing pen.

Consensus facebook page

The first public engagement meetings will be held Monday to discuss the preliminary recommendations of the Consensus commission on local government modernization.  Public opinion could play a large role in determining just how government will serve residents in the future.

Scott Willis / WAER News

  Long-time advocates of Syracuse’s south side are clearly welcoming the news about plans to finally open a full service supermarket in the impoverished neighborhood. PriceRite will begin construction this spring on a 35,000 foot store at the corner of South and Bellevue avenues.

Pan American Health Organization / panho.org

A Syracuse infectious disease expert believes that four Central American nations are justified in warning their citizens to delay pregnancy as a precaution against the recent outbreak of the Zika virus.  The virus has made its way to the southern United States, prompting some alarmist rhetoric from citizens. Chief of Infectious Disease at Upstate Medical University Timothy Endy believes their worries aren’t unwarranted.

"We knew it was an emerging virus, but honestly, the current outbreak in Brazil and the types of birth defects that are occurring was unexpected."

Scott Willis / WAER News

Most people who live and work outside the Syracuse University area might not know there’s a new housing subdivision going up not far from Manley Fieldhouse.  After a slow start a year ago, Xavier Woods off Comstock Avenue is getting some traction.

  Transgender Central New Yorkers now have the legal backing to file any complaints of discrimination or harassment.  New regulations took effect this week under the state’s human rights law.  The regulations prohibit discrimination against anyone because of their gender identification or how they present their gender.  That could now be considered discrimination on the basis of sex or disability.  Director of the Syracuse/Onondaga County Human Rights Commission Barrie Gewanter says this change is critical.

Liverpool Central School District Facebook

  Central New York school districts are preparing for a potentially difficult budget year after new numbers came out Wednesday that would severely limit a district’s ability to raise money from their local communities.  Some say it might be an unintended consequence of the New York State real property tax cap law enacted in 2012.

Chris Bolt / WAER News

  Onondaga County’s Sheriff has a few ideas about how to reduce what he’s calling an epidemic in heroin abuse.  He’s trying to help addicts in the community as well as those behind bars. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

  Law enforcement officials  and gun safety advocates say the key to reducing the gun violence in Syracuse is to stop the flood of guns trafficked here from other states.  Mayor Stephanie Miner and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand convened a roundtable discussion Friday at the Southwest Community Center to discuss proposed federal legislation that would make gun trafficking across state lines a crime. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

You might say it was the first day of school Thursday for SUNY Upstate Medical University’s new president.  Dr. Danielle Laraque-Arena has spent the past three months or so getting to know the university and the community it serves.  She calls the transition between her appointment in September and today "marvelous."

"I've been anticipating the first day, and I'm thrilled."          

She says one of her themes is to connect science and education to the work they need to do at Upstate.  She says there has to be a focus on tackling Syracuse’s high rate of poverty. 

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