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.

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RAILROAD SAFETY
6:11 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Syracuse City Council Seeks Support for Railcar Safety Legislation

DOT 111 rail cars
Credit dot.gov

Concerns surrounding rail car transport of flammable oils and gases have motivated Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner to push for tighter regulations. This news comes after Senator Chuck Schumer's critique of a recent rail safety initiative, agreed to by the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Association of American Railroads on February 20, 2014. 

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EMERAL ASH BORER
6:25 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

City of Syracuse Begins Treating Ash Trees Against Invasive, Deadly Beetle

Lori Brockelbank with Forcon drills the injection site in an ash tree on Houston Ave.
Scott Willis WAER News

The City of Syracuse is  starting to treat some 1,800 ash trees in its right of way to protect them from fatal emerald ash borer infestations.  Licensed contractors demonstrated the treatment method Tuesday on an otherwise healthy looking tree in front of a house on Houston Avenue in the Meadowbrook neighborhood.    Harris says the 18-inch diameter tree on Houston Ave costs about $86  to treat.  He says it would take about 30 years of treatment to equal the roughly $850  removal and replacement cost of a tree, which is what would happen if left untreated. 

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NATIONAL EMS WEEK
11:24 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Portable Ultrasound Machines Can Help EMS Professionals Diagnose Injuries

Nurse practitioner Carol Lee demonstrates a portable ultrasound machine to EMS professionals Monday at Onondaga Community College.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Most Central New Yorkers probably picture an ultrasound machine as large unit in a dark room at a hospital or doctor's office.  Well, advances in technology have shrunk the devices to about the size of a tablet, and they're small enough to carry in the tight confines of a rescue helicopter.    Director of EMS Education at SUNY Upstate Christian Knutsen says ultrasound machines once relegated to hospitals have come a long way from the large units that radiologists struggled to read not that long ago.    EMS professionals Monday got hands-on training with the portable units on real patients.

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PARKS
12:19 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Loop the Lake Trail Adds 2.5 Mile Extension

A panoramic view of Onondaga Lake from the new portion of the West Shore Trail.
Hannah Warren WAER News

The next time you’re passing by the New York State Fairgrounds on I-690 and you have some time to kill, think about stopping by the new Onondaga Lake Trail Extension.  Officials unveiled the 2.5 mile addition Sunday with an expo and a walk/run.   

WAER's Hannah Warren reports Syracuse-area trail-goers have been looking forward to the new space for quite some time.

The crowd gathering beside the Fairgrounds on Sunday morning was ready to move.  Everyone lined up beside the new trail entrance, which showcases panoramic views of Onondaga Lake, and it was off to the races. 

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HISTORIC PRESERVATION
11:28 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Syracuse Land Bank Could be Key to Saving House Where "Oz" Creator Met His Future Wife

The house at 678 W. Onondaga St. was built in 1880.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

The abandoned, boarded-up Syracuse house where Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum first met his future wife might finally have a brighter future via the land bank.  Syracuse common councilors Monday approved the sale of the tax delinquent house at 678 W. Onondaga Street to the land bank, which then could choose to sell it to the Baum Foundation.  Executive Director Kathleen DiScenna says the couple met in 1881.   She says his late niece Cynthia told her,

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