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

Jason Chen/WAER News

Children at Syracuse’s Delaware elementary school got into the holiday spirit Thursday afternoon.

Music director Vanessa Ryder said it was the first time staff members at the school joined children to create the sense of Delaware family through music. As a music teacher, she wants kids to love music and make it into a life skill.

Scott Willis / WAER News

An attorney with Legal Services of Central New York says the Onondaga County Justice Center continues to place 16 and 17-year olds in solitary confinement three months after they filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the practice.  So, legal services staff attorney and case co-lead counsel Josh Cotter says they’ve requested an expedited order in district court to stop the justice center from isolating teens. 

Jason Chen/WAER News

Senator Chuck Schumer stopped by Central New York Wednesday to call on the U.S. Department of Transportation to finalize a proposed rule that could prevent more than 1,000 fatalities caused by large truck crashes. Schumer said among 10,000 large truck accidents every year in New York, close to 1,000 are caused by driving at an unsafe speed. @navnoor_kang

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is bringing charges against a former portfolio manager in the state’s pension fund, saying he accepted bribes from two hedge fund brokers, that included prostitutes and illegal drugs.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who is not implicated in the case, says in a statement that he’s “outraged” by the “shocking betrayal” of  the former portfolio manager, Navnoor Kang, who was fired in February . And DiNapoli thanked the U.S. Attorney for bringing the charges.

Katie Zilcosky / WAER News

The first of the approvals needed for the symphony tower project came from Syracuse Common Councilors Monday, but not without some dissent.  The $18.3 million dollar plan will turn the tower into a Hyatt extended stay hotel.

The agreement basically forgives more than $550,000 in penalties and fees with a promise by owner/developers Ed Riley and Gary Thurston to hire local and minority workers.  City chief of staff Bill Ryan says it’s a straightforward deal that benefits the city.

Jason Chen

Dozens of people packed the Syracuse Police Department Monday morning to have a look at a hallway that honors police officers who have given their lives protecting and serving Syracuse. The Hall of Honor was the idea of a recently-retired Sgt. John Savage. He said he hopes that young recruits and old retirees can take some time to walk through the history and tradition of the department.

Gov. Cuomo's flickr page

Former President Bill Clinton cast his ballot for his wife, failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, at Monday’s Electoral College meeting in Albany.

He blamed the loss on the Russians and the FBI.

The former president, serving as one of 29 electors in New York state, said it was the “proudest" vote he ever cast. He said his wife was undone by events late in the campaign, even after she successfully overcame what Clinton said were “bogus” charges about her private email server.


For anxious skiers and snowboarders eager to hit the slopes, Central New York’s mountains have good news: they’re officially open…and staying open as of this weekend.  Recent snowfall and frigid temperatures are already proving this year is off to a better than the last, which has Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Greek Peak Mountain Resort Jessica Sloma both thankful and excited.

Scott Willis / WAER News

The race for Syracuse mayor officially got underway Friday with an announcement from the first candidate to publicly declare his intentions.   Alfonso Davis is hoping the third time’s the charm to win the democratic nomination.  He tried unsuccessfully in 2009 and in 2013 to secure his spot in the primaries, losing both times to Stephanie Miner.  With miner out of the picture this time around due to term limits, Davis says he won’t settle for what he calls “business as usual.”

John Smith / WAER News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has made some adjustments to her administrative staff in part to prepare for the uncertainty surrounding a Trump presidency. The appointments will fill out the final year of her tenure.

Most appointments at this point late in a mayoral administration are typically more significant internally than they are to the public.

Miner asked current corporation counsel Bob Stamey to take back his old job as personnel director. She said this shuffling of staff is more strategic.