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

Construction and economic development that's going on in the city of Watertown might be leaving arts and culture behind.  But some people are trying to change that.  Garrett McCarthy is an artist in the area and works in historic preservation.  He's noticed areas such as Clayton and Sackets Harbor have invested to increase music venues, galleries, and events.

Scott Willis / WAER News

A Central New York Vietnam veteran who lost his Purple Heart medal years ago had it returned Tuesday. 

 Army Special Forces veteran Daniel Hunnicutt was presented with his original medal at a ceremony today in county legislature chambers.  

He lost the medal in Portland, Oregon, where he returned from Vietnam.  A contractor working on the back porch of a house discovered the medal in the dirt and took it to the local VA center.  After deciphering the name, it made its way back to Hunnicutt here in New York. 

Syracuselandbank.org

At least two Syracuse Common Councilors are starting to take a stand against the almost automatic sale of hundreds of tax delinquent properties to the land bank and not giving others the option to buy.    About 30 properties were on this week's agenda, and Councilor Nader Maroun voted no on all of them.  At the council's previous meeting,  Kathleen Joy  issued a  similar protest "no" vote on land bank properties.

Syracuse’s 428 police officers are working under a new contract for the first time in more than three years.  Common councilors Monday gave their approval to the five year agreement retroactive to 2011.  Police Benevolent Association President Jeffrey Piedmonte says both city and union negotiators put a lot of work into the talks, which culminated in a agreement in mid-June.  He says health insurance was a key sticking point…the deal calls for officer contributions to more than double starting in September.

Scott Willis / WAER News

A popular park in Syracuse’s Valley neighborhood is about to become more accessible to those with disabilities.  Covanta Onondaga, which operates the waste-to-energy plant, has pledged $2,300 to the Anglers Association of Onondaga to construct new bridges and make other improvements to trails at Webster Pond.    Anglers vice president Chad Norton has been a member since 1996, and uses a motorized wheelchair.  He says being able to go all the around the pond will feel like a new door has opened.

bbc.com

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is one of eight co-sponsors of a bipartisan bill aimed at bringing sexual assault on college campuses out of the shadows.  The Campus Accountability and Safety Act aims to create accountability and transparency on campuses by giving aggressively penalizing colleges and universities that don’t properly investigate sexual assaults.  

 Gillibrand says the survivors who come forward to tell their stories are the definition of courage.

Fines for under-reporting include up to 1% of an institution’s operating budget, which could amount to millions of dollars. 

Gillibrand says the confidential advisors can play a key role in getting survivors the services they need and assisting the investigation.

"She is able to know what her options are, what it would like if she did a college campus review, what it would look like if she went through the criminal justice system, and she can have complete control of her case.  Having that first entry point be someone who's well trained, which is not the case on college campuses today, so they actually ask the right questions in the right order so they save information that's needed later and give comfort to that  survivor, that will result in more reporting and more ultimate prosecutions."

The measure also requires a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement so it’s clear who will take the lead on the investigation.  Gillibrand expects support for the legislation to grow in time, and hopes for floor time in September to make the case.  She’s optimistic the measure will pass this year. 

VERA HOUSE REACTS

The Education Director of Vera House thinks the new legislation is a positive step forward. Loren Cunningham says while one piece of legislation can't address all aspects of the issue, it is important that colleges and universities will be held more accountable. 

   Cunningham says some of the local colleges and universities in Syracuse are more receptive than others to training and prevention activities, but adds Vera House has a good working relationship with most of them.
Scott Willis / WAER News

Ground was broken Friday on a facility in a rural area of DeWitt that’s expected to bring more of Hollywood to Onondaga County.  In fact, the Central New York Hub for Emerging Nano Industries already has a tenant.

    During the state of the county address earlier this year, California-based film and TV company “The Film House” announced it will relocate its headquarters, production, post production, and distribution operations to the facility.  President and CEO Ryan Johnson was on hand for the groundbreaking. 

"Not only will we get to work with this first kind of educational institution that will drive production and innovations globally, it will help train and develop our future workforce so  we can continue to grow in Syracuse and  build the film industry in Upstate New York."

Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy was among the officials turning over the first symbolic shovels of dirt.

 

  Justin Steele is director of the upcoming film “The Opium War,” which will be filmed and produced in Central New York using the hub’s resources.  But Onondaga County executive Joanie Mahoney says the hub goes beyond the film industry. 

  15 million dollars in state money will build and equip the facility at the Collamer Business Park, but officials say that should leverage 150 million dollars in private investment over seven years.  The project is expected to create 350 permanent, high-tech jobs and 150 construction jobs.  

WHAT'S NEXT FOR LT. GOV. DUFFY?

npr.org

Syracuse  Mayor Stephanie Miner today sent a letter to President Barack Obama formally extending her offer to use the City of Syracuse as a site for relocating Latin American children who have crossed the Southern border.  In a release, she says the City of Syracuse is known for welcoming new immigrants and it currently is home a large population of refugees from across the globe. Miner says the City of Syracuse has been visited by representatives from federal agencies seeking to review a site for possible placement of migrant children.  She says Federal officials have made it clear that the Department of Health and Human Services will pay for and provide all services for children through its network of grantees. Miner says before the children would be placed in Syracuse, they would undergo a well-child exam, tuberculosis testing, and a mental health screening.  The mayor says children stay an average of 35 days while awaiting a hearing before an immigration magistrate and do not attend local schools.  More information on this can be found on a page on the City’s website,www.syrgov.net/unaccompaniedchildren

Scott Willis / WAER News

Onondaga County officials today announced that the Onondaga County Civic Center will close to the public and most employees today as of 12:30 due to the loss of potable water and sanitary services after being impacted by a nearby water main break. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

A popular craft brewery in Armory Square hopes to bottle its beer for the first time in its 20-year history with an expanded farm and bottling facility in Cazenovia.   Empire Brewing Company owns 22 acres of land off Route 13, and wants to grow the hops and barley there to make more beer in order to meet increasing demand. 

     

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